Welcome to the Husker Monday Marinade. Each week we will take a unique look at the week that was, the week that will be and the opinions that will drive the debate about Nebraska Football. Please feel free to add to the conversation below, share on Facebook and Tweet it!
Was that fun for you?
Personally I have never liked roller coasters. I feel anxiety and anticipation as that cart creeps to the apex. The sound of the click-clack of steel and the view from the top gives me that familiar lump in my throat and I question why I did this to myself. And worse, I know whats coming next — the downward spiral that will bring pure terror and panic, and twist my insides.
Yep, that’s what it was like watching the first half of the Nebraska game against Wisconsin. Ameer only getting to the 10-yard line after Nebraska elected to receive the kickoff. Click. Taylor fumbling the first play from scrimmage. Clack. The three and out. Click. The Badger 2nd play hail Mary for 54 yards. Clack. The first Montee Ball touchdown . . . and the 150-foot drop was still to come.
The next thing we knew, we were in the valley of the double dip. After a fumble and another Ball TD, then the most bone-headed roughing the kicker penalty in history, and it’s 20-3 Wisconsin.
Panic. Terror. Twisted insides. But as we enter turn two of this ride, let’s reflect a bit.
You want to feel better, huh? You want me to tell you that Wisconsin is actually a good team that has struggled so far. You want me to justify the mindset. I’m not going to do that. The Badgers aren’t good. Nebraska did it to themselves.
Two of Wisconsin’s touchdowns were on drives less than 25 yards. They only had 56 total rushing yards all game. Their QB, Joel Stave threw for just 214 yards, 109 of which were three completions to Jared Abbrederis. He simply snagged jump balls.
Never once did I think they were the better team. They capitalized on turnovers, they played the game we gave them, and they were focused in that first 30 minutes.
Not Nebraska. Nebraska was distracted by a circus of their own making, putting themselves on this roller coaster. Adidas came bearing gifts. The new lids were black and slick and crude as oil. The uniforms reflected the blood-rage revenge the ‘Skers desired. The shoes were, well, “flashy.” It was a prime time, nationally televised, Big Ten opener. And most diverting of all, we learned the Ring Master, Tom Osborne was retiring. It was all a part of short attention span theater and it was all leading to the big top over the Old Gray Lady collapsing in on itself.
But then something wonderful happened. Intermission. It was joked on Twitter that Tom Osborne himself simply walked into the locker room at halftime, and in his calm, deliberate demeanor, simply said “Really?”
The second half of the ride started a bit shaky, also. Martinez lost a fumble, Ball eventually stumbled in for another two-yard touchdown, and Nebraska was down 17 again. But they did something I’ve never seen before. They didn’t panic, they didn’t abandon course. They didn’t ask to get off the ride.
The immediate response was four plays, 77 yards capped by Martinez running for a 38-yard TD. Then came, what I define as the shift from terror and anxiety to a road of relief, and eventual joy. On the next Badger possession, mid-way through the third quarter, on 3rd and one, Ball was stuffed for a loss, and the crowd erupted. They knew what was coming. A Husker assault on the heart of Wisconsin.
The next drive started with a couple Abdullah slices, followed by a Martinez stone to the forehead. Abdullah with another dig, then Braylon Heard off the sharp diamond formation. Abdullah punctured on 3rd and one. Then Martinez drove a dagger to Kyler Reed, and through the heart of the Badgers. And although Nebraska was still down 24-27, and the ride still had a couple turns to go, you knew it was over. Two field goals and 18 minutes later, relief. Huskers 30-27 .
So all the talk of Taylor skipping rocks led to him throwing two touchdown passes, and opening Nebraska to rack up 259 rushing yards. And in the end, it was Husker fans, safely off the roller coaster, celebrating, sipping Wisky . . . on the rocks.
I do have to ask Husker fans, though: can we please stop hating on Brett Maher? Yeah, Maher missed a 52-yarder in the first quarter, but he probably never should have been put in that position. That was a big momentum moment in the game and Bo should have either sacked up and gone for it, or punted and pinned Wisconsin. But Maher was flawless the rest of the game. Field goals of 26, 38 (to tie) and 41 (to win), not to mention touchback after touchback, kept the momentum with the Huskers late. Maher was both clutch and reliable.
One last thought. We established that this game wasn’t about Wisconsin being good, it was about Nebraska making mistakes, which they eventually overcame through superior talent and execution. Thus, we should take it personally that Vegas thinks Ohio State is a better team, and has them favored going into next week. Ohio State is Braxton Miller, period. That and they are at home. Are you scared to take another ride?
***Cover image courtesy of HuskerMax.com and Wickedwallz.blogspot.com.