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Kansas State 29, Nebraska 28

If you would have told any Devaney-fearing member of the Husker Nation before the season that the Almighty Nebraska Cornhuskers would be playing somewhere other than the Orange Bowl at the end of the year, he probably would have said that you were out of your Cotton-pickin' mind. But unfortunately, the warm, Cornhusker-friendly insights of the preseason summer magazines now have given way to the cold, hard Insight.coms of late autumn. Meanwhile, KSU's upset win on Saturday was aided by NU taking a Holiday for about two quarters, which left the Big Red Machine stalled by the side of the road like a rent-a-wreck from Alamo.

A few takes:

FACING (ALTERNATE) REALITY: As Republicans and Democrats prepare to attain the White House through the courtroom, it appears Cornhusker fans also have taken some legal action. Namely, they've retained the law firm of Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda to help in the recount of Saturday's game. In the aftermath of NU's first one-point loss since that Bernie Kosar-induced nightmare way back in 1984, it is only natural to look back to key points in the game and wonder "What if?" As in, What If the surface of Wagner Field was not of the same consistency as the Chicago Blackhawks' home ice? What If Frankie had decided to dance with who brung 'im earlier than the middle of the second half? Or, What If the Blackshirts would've simply broken both of Quincy Morgan's legs so he couldn't almost single-handedly carry KSU to a win? Nah, the only "Sliding Doors" scenario I'm willing to examine lies in the kicking game. Jamie Rheem was perfect on his field-goal attempts, while NU missed a first-half chip-shot that turned out to be the difference in the game. They say football is a game of inches, but in this case it truly turned out to be a game of feet ... and the Wildcats' tootsies were a bit warmer on Saturday.

YOU CAN CALL ON AL: Through much of this season, some Cornhusker fans have yipped more incessantly than a chihuahua on methamphetamine about extracting Dan Alexander from the starting lineup. But after watching Nebraska's clydesdale drag purple-clad defenders all over the field last night while hoofing it for 100-plus yards -- not to mention make all of them miss on his final touchdown gallop of the evening -- I'd have to say "neigh" to that proposition. In fact, it's worth wondering what would have happened if NU, up 14-7 and the beneficiary of Kaiser's interception deep in K-State territory in the second quarter, had kept their 1,000-yard man in the game. Whoops. There's another one of those What Ifs again. Dammit. Still, a slick and frozen game ball goes to No. 38.

VIOLENT VIOLETS: Now I know how Gary Gibbs' Oklahoma Sooners must have felt every time they stumbled in the late '80s and early '90s. They paid for the sins of their predecessors every time they dropped a game on the road. For example -- in 1989, knucklehead Nebraska fans tore down the Memorial Stadium goalposts after beating an OU team that was a shadow of their former selves. Around the Big XII, the same thing seems to be happening to Frankie's contemporary Husker squads, which have seen their days of running roughshod over conference foes fade away like Demi Moore's career. Cornhusking congratulations go to KSU's fans, but methinks it's probably time for the field-storming, goalpost-ripping Wildcat backers to heed the words of Paul "Bear" Bryant in response one of his hot-dogging players: "Son, if you happen to make it into the end zone, try to act like you've been there before." Besides, what's the big deal about besting a crew that's 1-5 vs. ranked opponents on the road over the last three years? Sheeeeeesh!

FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARITY: I realize that the Husker Nation Loyalty Patrol could come to my home, confiscate all of my scarlet and cream clothing and deport me to a double-wide trailer in suburban Norman, Okla., for this next statement, but here goes: Go Oklahoma Sooners! Not only is OU suddenly the surprise flag-bearer for the Big XII, they should be the favorite son of every parity-filled conference outside the Eastern Time Zone and north of the Mason-Dixon line. The meatgrinder gauntlets like the Big XII, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 are a far cry from the junior-college warmups that Florida State and Miami currently use for their pre-BCS scrimmages. Even CNN wouldn't be jumping the gun in projecting that the Seminoles will win the Atlantic Coast Conference through 2025 and that the Big East will continue smelling very much bad during that same timeframe. But until there's a better championship mechanism in place, the "National Championship" game most likely will be nothing more than a series of regional skirmishes between the good ole boys.

THE BOTTOM LINE: With all of the presidential hubbub this week, it may have slipped some folks' minds that Saturday was Veterans Day. Formerly known as Armistice Day, the date coincides with the anniversary of the 1918 agreement that ended the First World War. In all seriousness and solemnity, I hope you will join the Loon in thanking veterans for their selfless service. But it was hard to overlook that the headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is located in Kansas City, Mo., the very town where Nebraska had hoped to fight a Second World War against OU on Dec. 2. By now we all know, of course, that NU's rematch hopes suffered an atomic meltdown thanks to Bill Snyder's Manhattan Project. Still, there's one more battle to wage this year -- and that's the annual Holy War against the godless, outlaw Colorado Buffaloes. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, you can bet the farm that Gary Barnett's 3-7 team will combat Crouch & Co. with the guile of a band of guerrillas. But no matter how shell-shocked NU is, CU still won't be able to get the Nebraska monkey off its back. Nebraska 28, Colorado 17.

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