Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game 6: Texas Tech 37, Nebraska 31, Overtime

Now that we don't have Billy C to kick around and blame for all of society's woes, the finger pointing on why Nebraska lost it's last two home games -- or more importantly, let Missouri come into Lincoln and turn a nationally televised night game into the equivalent of a spring game -- became the flavor of the week going into today's Texas Tech game. The Corn were 22 point underdogs, and like last week, nobody expected them to win or even play the Top 10 rated Red Raiders close. The general mood had everyone hoping that Nebraska just wouldn't get embarrassed, you know, like they did the last time they went to play in Lubbock. Ladies and Gentleman, your improving 2008 Nebraska Cornhuskers, now officially 3-3 and win less in conference games. Before we dissect what might have been today, let's recap the two big rumors that fans suggested had Nebraska trending down. What we're hearing, and separating what could be real from what's just horseshit (or as TO would say, horse pucky).

Shawn Watson and Bo Pelini Are Not Seeing Eye To Eye: Watson's big problem is that Husker fan doesn't like him, has never liked him (after all, he's the one responsible for THIS mess from 2001) and never will. Because he flirted with Nick Saban, that silly bastard. Because too many people still can't get past the fact that he's a CALLAHAN guy. He'll never win Husker Nation over, and most of these folks think/wish Watson's gone at the end of this year no matter how things turn out. Watson is still a great football coach, a great offensive mind. And let's not forget, after everything that went wrong last year, Nebraska certainly had quite an offensive display going for them, at least during the second half of the season.

In the Husker home opener, Quarterback Joe Ganz picked up right from where he left off last year (now again, this is, or was, a GOOD thing). Ever since (well, until this afternoon at least), Ganz looked as uncomfortable running the offense as Joe Dailey was during year one of the Billy C experiment. In games 2 and 3, against much weaker opponents than Western Michigan was in week 1, the Huskers offense lost it's identity. They tried the option a few times. They looked for anything that could resemble any sort of running game that just wasn't going to happen. The whispers around Lincoln have suggested that Pelini was nixing a lot of what Watson wanted to do. We always figured that with Watson on board, Bo would put his major emphasis on the defense and let Shawn figure out what to do offensively. Whatever the hell it is, just figure out whatever plays would work for the players they have now and go with that. It looks like that finally happened with today's game. Could be just a coincidence that the Huskers looked awkward during their last four games (at HOME no less), only to hear this suggested rumor and have Ganz throw for over 300 yards today and almost beat a team ranked 7th in the nation on the road. Did we mention Ganz was 36 of 44 throwing?

Pelini Isn't As Tough With His Players As He Is With The Media: One of the best parts of the season so far have been the Tuesday Bo Pelini Press Conferences. So far, they've been the slow burn to what a frightened pack of media members assumes will lead to a Mike Gundy-like Meltdown. God these are fun to watch, only to hear somebody shitting their pants while asking Pelini a question. Bo has these guys on eggshells. Anyone who covers that weekly press conference goes in with only one goal in mind: To NOT be the one who makes Pelini go batshit crazy and create a youtube/Sportscenter moment. The better way to go about this at this point is to actually try to be that guy who asks the question that makes Pelini snap. But you can't go in too confident, because Bo can smell fear, which means he'll jump on some poor soul from the Hastings television station who's on his first year at the job. Should be you, Travis Justice. But Justice would use the moment to spin his way into the limelight. Don't worry, we'll save "Travis Justice is Nebraska's Jay Marriotti" comments for another post, but you can't blame a guy for wishing a ravaged Pelini scream, "I'M A MAN, I'M FORTY" in Trav's face, and then curb stomp him.

But back to the rumor at hand. It was suggested that Pelini hasn't taken full control of this team shaped in his attitude because some of the players are "too sensitive" and he's waiting until he has all of his "own" kids to do that. Sorry, not buying it. Pelini's been all about changing the atmosphere since day one. Sure this is his first head coaching gig, and maybe he hasn't come in with the crazed intensity of when Jimmy Johnson took over the Dallas Cowboys. We've already seen Pelini give it to an official (in a move that cost his team a possible win against Virginia Tech). And if he's thisclose to boil at the local media every week, you know it's gotta come out somewhere. Hell, the kids are at least practicing in PADS this season, something they didn't do over the past four years.

Pelini's problem today, as it has been all season, has been the costly penalties. Nebraska had eight today, Tech only had two. Of course die hard Husker fan is blaming the refs on this trend (and really, it's good to hear these guys again, isn't it? We haven't had fans blaming the officiating from Husker Fan in quite some time, I was beginning to miss it). Somebody needs to really press Pelini about those holding penalties at this week's press conference. I vote for Sean Callahan.

Everyone sure feels better today than they did during the week. But let's not forget that Nebraska is now officially just a .500 team. If today is that first real step in the right direction, is everyone still confident this team can find those three more wins to, you know, get invited to a Bowl Game? As good as the Corn looked in the 4th quarter today, that doesn't mean they'll win in Ames next week, or even when they come back home to host Baylor. You want momentum, how about an actual win. That would really have shook shit up.

Mike Leach and Bo Pelini have the exact same nose. But Leach looks more like the overweight guy in accounting from your office who wears a short sleeve shirt with a bad tie. Yes, we're aware that Leach has his own fits with the media, but if you had to pick which nose you'd want with you in a knife fight, you have to pick Bo. As crazy as it was when Leach tried to draw the Huskers offside on that 4th and 5 play from their own 36, you had to be impressed with with Pelini's later call on that fake field goal.

Yes, this really was the first ever overtime loss for the Huskers. They were 5-0 before today. Just when you thought Callahan killed every streak, here comes Pelini to ruin just one more.

Last week, Chase Daniel and company looked like they were going to waltz all the way to Kansas City to face Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship. Then crazy Mike Gundy of all people has to go and shatter that plan. Considering Texas has to play Missouri, Oklahoma State and then Leach in the next three weeks, they're not the safe pick to win the South. One has to wonder what Mark Mangino thinks of all of this?

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