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It’s been almost two full days, and I still don’t have words for the Huskers debacle.
Shellshocked, stunned, mind blown … and not in the good way. In our wildest nightmares I could not have imagined a scoreline like that. The English language has yet to develop a word that expresses the train wreck that was Saturday night. And while many fans I know flipped away at halftime, I kept rubber-necking. I could not turn away from it, the wide-eyed disbelief of utter disaster. This wasn’t my team.
I have read and heard all the arguments, that this team wasn’t prepared and that the game plan wasn’t good enough. But I think there was something else going on here. Nebraska came to Indy to play Big Ten football. They came to play a slobberknocker. They came to play Wisconsin circa September.
What they got was a 7-5 Wisconsin team with nothing to lose, nothing to prove, throwing caution to the wind. They played like this game was a gift, a lottery ticket, and it was going to end in Badger disaster or Husker embarrassment with no between.
I fully believe the Wisconsin game planned this one starting three weeks ago, not caring if they played Michigan or Nebraska, they would have come out the same.
What Nebraska expected was 3-yards in a cloud of tire rubber, what they got was Team iLuminate. They got kamikaze-ed by The Barge, The Six-Man and the Wildcat. They got fooled into expecting a heavy dose of Montee Ball (202 yards) and got slight-of-hand tricks by Melvin Gordon (216 yards) and James White (109 yards, four TD’s). They saw the Badgers throw just 10 passes, one by a wide receiver and another by White (a TD pass, mind you). Wisconsin was creative, whimsical, and practically dared the Huskers to stop the show.
By the time the Huskers mentally got past the flashing lights and bag of tricks, it was too late. You could throw the game plan out the window, which I’m sure they did. Game prep mattered not at that point.
I had one fan, who is consistently a Husker optimist, tell me that Taylor Martinez did everything that was expected of him in this game. And I couldn’t agree more. That 76-yard run was nothing short of spectacular, it was legen … dary. It could have been the catalyst to shrugging off the 14 Nebraska spotted them. It will be forever remembered in Husker lore. He threw for 184, he ran for 140 and he scored two touchdowns.
But what we also come to expect of Taylor are the turnovers.
So the first interception might not have been his fault. Kenny Bell should have had the ball, and if he doesn’t slip, that pick-6 doesn’t exists. However, even down 35-10 one could have a glimmer of hope that Nebraska could come back again, until the fumble. And even at that, maybe, just maybe they had one more ounce of fight left going into the second half, then the second interception … game over.
After that there was no fight left. Anything that happened after 49-10 was just window dressing. The conversations on message boards and Twitter immediately turned to booking flights to Orlando or Tampa and a match-up with Georgia or LSU, not that either mattered at that point. Nobody believed we should be on the field with UNO, let alone any SEC team that came five-yards from playing for a national championship.
So, what do we do now?
I love that that phrase is in print and you can interpret it how you like. The question could mean so many things based on which word is emphasized or the inflection of your mental tone of voice. But if you ask Dirk Chatelain, Husker writer for the Omaha-World Herald, we do nothing.
Bo isn’t good enough to get over the hump. He isn’t bad enough to fire. Nebraska is stuck in purgatory. – Dirk Chatelain
I don’t believe that Bo isn’t good enough to get over the hump anymore than I believe this performance changed the overall opinion of him within the walls of the university. I agree that Bo isn’t going anywhere right now, but not for the same reasons Dirk says. I believe the administration, regardless of your personal opinion, has faith in Bo.
What I do believe is that the time frame for Bo to get “over the hump” shortened with that loss, because of the way they lost. A 28-27 loss would have, at the least, felt different.
What I know is that this isn’t Ohio State, where we had two weeks to marinade (no pun intended). We don’t have just a month either, because no matter the result against Georgia, this is the game that will burn in Husker fan’s head, myself included, until we get back to it and actually win the damn thing.
If you ask Husker nation, a lot of you would probably trade 10-2 for the season Wisconsin had to this moment. A Big Ten Championship with a chance at winning a BCS game. Don’t get it twisted, Wisconsin didn’t win their division, they didn’t earn their way into this game … Nebraska did. This Big Ten title comes with an asterisk.
We’re all at an extreme low right now, and this will linger all off-season, no doubt. But do not deny how the team grew and overcame such adversity to get there.
I’m not saying that getting there is enough. I’m urging you, and perhaps trying to convince myself, to get off the emotional roller-coaster that this season has put us all on, and don’t let this tear down the expectation that we should all have going into next year. If Martinez and Co. can clean things up a bit, he’ll be a Top 5 Heisman candidate, and the Huskers have the potential to go back to Indy and atone.
First, we need to exercise some demons on the Dawgs. That would go a long way in the healing process.
2013 begins January 1, in more ways than one.