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R E D    C L A D    L O O N

LOON DROPPINGS, Vol. 12
Nebraska 66, Northwestern 17, Alamo Bowl
12/30/00

Knowledge is power, they always say. And in the days leading up to this year's all-important Alamo Bowl, the Wise Men inside my Sylvania TV set were saying that Northwestern's superior brain trust would formulate a game plan that would defeat the dim-witted Cornhuskers. However, they overlooked one small fact: While the upstart Wildcats may be A-plus students of the game, it was Nebraska who wrote the book on winning. The result? On Saturday, the 'Cats got absolutely schooled.

A few final takes:

SAN ATONEMENT: From the first snap of the game Saturday -- a five-yard reverse to Bobby "Duke" Newcombe -- it was more obvious than Patrick Kabongo in a chartreuse thong that Frank Solich planned to get the ball to his seniors as much as possible. The veterans didn't disappoint, either, as they turned in big play after big play and skewered the champs of the (mighty?) Big Ten for a gaggle of yards and points. It warmed the cockles of my red-clad heart to see Matt Davison close his Husker career with two touchdown catches, one poetically coming on a pretty spiral from one-time quarterback Newcombe himself. Appropriately, Robert De Hero capped his up-and-down Cornhusker career with a Rodgersesque performance that will go down in Husker bowl history. It didn't hurt that there were no holds barred Saturday-- by the time this game was over, Solich's playbook was emptier than an Outback Steakhouse in downtown New Delhi.

DAN DE LION: You couldn't have scripted a better finish for Nebraska's quiet man, Dan Alexander, than this track meet of a finale. Of course, it helped that NU's skill guys were running through holes the size of Soldier Field. But D-Ax's record-setting, 241-yard swan song was an emphatic career-closer that silenced a Husker Nation full of cheese dog-woofing and beer-quaffing critics. A big, bruising game ball, not to mention a thousand thanks for the memories, goes to good old No. 38.

'SHIRTS HAPPEN: Everyone expected Nebraska's high-powered offense to score its share of points. But no one figured the Cornhuskers would carjack the lightning-in-a-bottle Northwestern attack the way they did -- especially those wiseacres on ESPN, who were begging for a repeat of the Cats' comeback vs. Meechicken so that bored viewers wouldn't switch over from the game to reruns of "JAG." Well, sorry, but this ain't the Big Ten, fellas. The AFLAC Trivia Question for this runaway should have been: "What does the mascot of Akron University and Northwestern's scoreline in the second half have in common?" (The answer? Uh ... Zip.) By the time it was 45-17, Kustok & Co. looked like confused tourists who had accidentally wandered into the bad part of town. A pair of Exception-Not-The-Rule runs got NW studboy Damien Anderson his 100 yards, but for most of the night he got stuffed like John Goodman at an all-you-can eat Wendy's salad bar. It all started with bad mutha Kyle Vanden Bosch, who luckily was given short-term leave from Leavenworth in time to suit up for the Scarlet and Cream, and ended with great plays from Craver, Walker, Groce and the rest of NU's secondary. In the D, the glory -- in the years to come, they'll call this one the "Alamo Bohl."

RIVER WALK: OK, so it ain't exactly Miami. But there's something about coming to the lovely burg of San Antone that gets the Huskers all jacked up, that's for sure. In their last three trips to the Alamodome -- vs. the Aggies in '97, the Whorns in '99 and the 'Cats here in 2000 -- the 'Skers have outscored opponents 142-38, or an average of 47-13 each time (blow)out. This trend apparently overrode the Cornhuskers' propensity to play poorly when adorned in the surrender-like road whites, for which I am glad. After Saturday's offensive fireworks -- the most ever scored by a Solich-coached team -- it appears that the only defense in San Antonio that might have a chance at slowing down the Big Red might be one featuring Tim Duncan and Sean Elliott.

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: In 1992's classic 52-7 romp over Colorado, Cornhusker defender John Parrella uttered words of infinite wisdom: "You line up against a guy, and either you beat him or he beats you. Your heart is either pumping blood or Kool-Aid." From the looks of the current bowl season, it appears the Big XII North's tickers are again the only ones pushing the plasma. Like clockwork, the conference's sad-sack southern brethren are 0-2, with A&M and Oklahoma still facing monumental tasks. All told, the South Division's bowl record is a hideous 1-11 since 1996, begging the question: Why again is it that the conference's headquarters is located in Dallas?

THE BOTTOM LINE: As the fourth quarter of Saturday's laugher ticked away and the Husker lineup experienced more changing numbers than the NASDAQ, it was inevitable for the thoughts of Loons everywhere to begin drifting forward approximately nine months to Fall 2001. Aha! Be careful! If the 2000 season has taught us anything, it's not to put too much stock in those puffed-up preseason pontifications. Still, 2000 was an emotional investment to remember: In September, NU got off to a blazing-hot start, though the Blackshirts were embarrassed more than (De)once. The South Bender padded the team's character, not to mention a few Irish fans' wallets, and the Huskers sat snugly atop the polls until late October. A pair of late-season heartbreakers ended the Big Red Machine's drive, forcing some fans to look for a soft spot in which to land after flying from the bandwagon. But while some will say that the 2000 season was an exercise in disappointment, this Loon declares it very, very good. See you next season. Nebraska 10, Opponents 2.

==STEVE==
Red. White. Loon. Play Infuriating Husker Trivia this off-season in THE POND,
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