The Travails of a Bad Luck Cornhusker Fan
Are you superstitious about your favorite team? Do you wear a certain shirt, hat, jersey, or socks during every game? Do you burn said hat or shirt when your team loses?
I have a superstition as well. It was given to me by other Huskers fans. In short, it's this: Nathan, stop going to games, especially away games. You're killing us, man.
Here's my bad luck story. If you think you have worse luck than me, feel free to chime in.
2002: Nebraska at Penn State
"Operation Visine: Keep the Red Out."
Does anybody remember that? Penn State had that whole movement going on to keep Nebraska fans from, oh, I don't know, turning their stadium into a Cornhusker home game like they did to Notre Dame in 2000.
You remember when anywhere between thirty and forty thousand Husker fans turning the House that Rockne built into Memorial Stadium, right? It was quite the sight.
It didn't quite work in Happy Valley. Sure there were plenty of us there, but 98 percent of the 110,753 fans wore Penn State colors.
Nebraska showed up as the No. 8 team in the nation with a 3-0 record, outscoring their opponents by an average of 41-13. Penn State was 1-0 and trying to overcome being 2-7 against ranked opponents from 2000-2002.
Yeah, it wasn't close. Penn State was juiced for the game, Nebraska looked confused, and the addition of my bad luck added up to a horrendous 40-7 throttling that was worse than the score indicated. Oh, and who can forget those awful white-on-white uniforms? Ugh.
My record: 0-1
On a side note, the Penn State fans were horrible to us when we were there. When I say horrible, I mean my older brother (who I flew from Texas to Virginia Beach so we could watch the game) and I were at times scared for our lives.
I was hit in the back of the leg with a horseshoe, people were yelling obscenities in our faces, and nobody seemed to care. It got so bad that we left the game early. It wasn't (entirely) because Nebraska was getting pounded. We were scared somebody was going to do something to us.
2004: Colorado at Nebraska
Who remembers that guy? That's right, Bill Callahan.
I honestly can't name one person in the Cornhusker State that likes him. To be fair, this isn't a picture from the 2004 game against Colorado. That's a picture of him in 2005. I couldn't find a picture I can use. That might actually be a good thing.
There is so much horror when discussing this game. It was my first Husker home game. It was Memorial Stadium, the Tunnel Walk, Senior Day and an opportunity to continue the NCAA record of winning seasons and bowl games.
But yeah, great job in going to the game and getting in the way with all your bad luck, Nathan.
Joe Dailey was picked off four times, Colorado racked up 420 total yards, and the Huskers couldn't complete a 19-point comeback in a 26-20 defeat to end the season 5-6.
The loss ended the Huskers’ NCAA-record consecutive bowl streak at 36. The loss also marked the end of the Huskers’ 43-year streak of winning regular seasons that began in 1962.
My record: 0-2
2005: Nebraska at Baylor
Hey, my first win! 'Lil Red will celebrate with me! Who cares if it came against Baylor, a team that would finish the season 5-6? Not me!
I convinced my girlfriend at the time, Amanda, to make the drive with me from Beaumont, Texas to Waco. It's roughly a four-hour drive, not counting traffic in Houston. It was a night game, and it was a lot of fun. We got to hang out with the cheerleaders, which is awesome. Seriously, we got to lead the "Husker Power" chant. Who doesn't want to do that?
Oh, and did I mention that Nebraska won the game? That's right. The Nebraska defense held the Bears to just 253 total yards and only one offensive touchdown in a 23-14 victory for the good guys.
My record: 1-2
2006: Nebraska at Southern Cal
I got in some trouble for going to this game (Memo to self, don't tell your pregnant girlfriend it's a business trip. She'll probably see you on national television because she's actually watching the game for some odd reason), but it was a lot of fun.
I attended the Husker tailgate before the game and met up with some Cornhusker greats like Johnny "The Jet" Rodgers. He's the guy in the photo with me and his (heavy) Heisman Trophy.
Alas, though, a victory was not to be. Lee Corso picked against the Huskers earlier in the morning on College GameDay live from the Coliseum, and the Huskers were fairly well routed by the Trojans, 28-10.
It could have been worse than that. Former Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll called off the dogs late in the fourth quarter.
My record: 1-3
This was another great opportunity to meet great people, and I did. I met Aaron Johnson and his family, who treated me to the first sushi I had ever eaten. Let me tell you, it's a lot better than I thought it would be. We have kept in contact to this day.
2007 Cotton Bowl vs Auburn
I have to say I was excited for the Cotton Bowl after Nebraska lost 21-7 to Oklahoma in the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game. After all, they had more yards and more chances to score than the Sooners. They simply couldn't capitalize.
I was sure they would be able to do the same with the Tigers except, you know, score more points.
I was kind of right. Nebraska outgained the Tigers 230-178 and had multiple opportunities to score, including one botched fake punt that, if executed properly, would have been an easy score for Nebraska fullback Dane Todd.
As it was, though, Auburn capitalized on Cornhusker mistakes and came out with a 17-14 victory.
It was the first game for my son. Sure he was still in his mother's womb, but you know he enjoyed the fun. We sat in the first-row corner of the end zone, Nebraska side. Brandon Jackson ran up to us when he scored his touchdown. It was awesome. I got a great picture—which I can't seem to find—of Auburn backed up to their 1-yard line. It was a great time.
My record: 1-4.
I met a couple great Auburn fans at the game. Ricky "Rooster" St. John and his family were great. We all went and had lunch together the day before the game. Unfortunately the pregnant woman with me got sick during lunch. I'm happy to say I still keep in contact with Ricky.
2007: Texas A&M
This was the first game with Tom Osborne back at Nebraska in any capacity.
He had returned to the Cornhuskers as interim athletic director, replacing the fired Steve Pederson. I was excited because I was finally able to bring Amber (the pregnant girlfriend in previous posts) to a Nebraska home game. I honestly really, really, really hoped the Huskers would pull one out for me.
Maybe I shouldn't have gone.
Nebraska allowed 359 rushing yards on 66 attempts, allowed the Aggies to score on every one of their red zone opportunities and all but put the nail in Bill Callahan's coffin in a 36-14 home loss. We had great seats to a humiliating defeat. We didn't leave those seats, either.
My record: 1-5
2009 Gator Bowl
Hello, Bo Pelini.
After the disaster that was the Dark Ages with Bill Callahan at the helm of the Big Red Machine, Pelini inherited a team in need of a leader and got nine wins out of them, including this Gator Bowl win.
Amber and I took Leyton (our amazing son) to his first real game. He had attended the Husker spring game with us in April of 2008, and he was in her womb for the Cotton Bowl. Either way, I know he enjoyed himself. He was, after all, almost two years old.
Down 21-10 midway through the third quarter, Joe Ganz found Todd Peterson for a 19-yard touchdown pass that gave the Huskers life and sent Big Red Nation into hysterics (including me).
Husker hero, Alex Henery, nailed three field goals, all from within 28 yards, and Nebraska ended the 2008 season with a 26-21 victory over Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers.
My record: 2-5
2009: Nebraska at Baylor
Ah yes, Baylor. Welcome back to the fold, Bears. You guys are easily my favorite opponents. Oh, and Happy Halloween! You know, because the game was played on October 31, 2009.
By and large, this was a really, really boring game. Seriously, Nebraska scored 20 first-half points and then never scored again. They didn't allow an offensive touchdown, and the game was never really in doubt. The Husker fans there made more noise than the Bears fans.
And I got a sunburn on half of my face.
My record: 3-5
2009 Big 12 Championship Game vs Texas
I could really chalk this one up as a win, but the record books seriously say Texas beat Nebraska after an incomplete pass thrown almost to the third level of the stands was reviewed and gave Texas an extra second to kick a game-winning field goal and emerge with a 13-12 "victory" over Nebraska.
If there was any consolation for this game, it's that Ndamukong Suh stole the Heisman Trophy from Colt McCoy and showed the nation it should have been his from the beginning. I mean seriously, was everybody from Texas scared to block him? Check out his YouTube videos from that game: hilarious.
Would Nebraska have won had I not attended the game? Quite possibly. Or maybe they would have at least scored a touchdown. Who knows.
My record: 3-6
I should point out that I had tickets to the 2009 Holiday Bowl. Yes, the Holiday Bowl where Nebraska slaughtered Arizona 33-0. If I had gone, would the game have been closer? I can only guess, yes.
My record: 3-6
2011: Nebraska at Wisconsin
"10/1/2011: Big Ten Begins"
That's seriously what the shirt I wore for the Nebraska game at Wisconsin said. Actually, no. October 1, 2011: Nebraska gets a nice big piece of humble pie for dinner, served by the Wisconsin Badgers.
I took Rachel and our amazing Corgi Paisley (pictured) from our little town of Norfolk, Neb. to Madison. We had to drive literally all the way through Iowa to witness the slaughter. Seriously, who wants to drive through Iowa anyway? Of course, we also had to drive all the way back through Iowa the day after the horrid performance the Huskers put on.
Hey, at least College GameDay was nice. Paisley got her picture in the Omaha World-Herald, Lee Corso (for some reason) picked Nebraska, and we all got to see how tasteless and lacking of college football knowledge most of the Wisconsin fan base is.
That all happened before Nebraska was lambasted 48-17. Great job with those three interceptions in a row, Taylor Martinez.
I met nobody cool from the entire state. We did go to a pretty sweet little zoo, though. Of course, you knew it would be an unpleasant visit when the first animal we saw was the American Badger.
My record: 3-7
2012 Capital One Bowl
Wasn't this just a disaster? Well I guess not so much if you're a South Carolina fan.
Nebraska came into the game as an underdog and left feeling as though they could have competed more than they had.
It was 16-13 South Carolina at the end of the first half, thanks largely in part to an Alshon Jeffery 51-yard touchdown reception as time expired. Nebraska never seemed to be in the game after that.
The Huskers, potent offensively at times throughout the season, were held to 253 total yards and just 137 rushing in the 30-13 blowout.
My record: 3-8
2012: Southern Miss
- Nebraska had a nation-leading 26 season-opening wins in a row.
- Nebraska had not lost at home to a nonconference opponent since Virginia Tech in 2008.
- Southern Miss had a new coach and, largely, a new team.
- My older brother Jeremy (pictured) was there with me. Surely he would offset my bad luck.
- My tickets were free. Awesome, right?
Finally a cream puff. Seriously, I kind of hedged my bets they would win this game for a number of reasons.
Yes, Jeremy and I enjoyed a career day from Taylor Martinez and a stellar overall performance by the Cornhuskers as they dominated the Golden Eagles 49-20. Who cares that they wouldn't win a single game all season? At least the Huskers weren't the one team they could have beaten.
My record: 4-8
2013 Capital One Bowl
I really really really hoped the "game" against Wisconsin was a fluke. After all, Nebraska had played pretty darn good football for most of the season.
I was wrong.
My buddy Drew and I drove from Orange, Texas to Orlando for what we originally thought would be Nebraska and Texas A&M.
Yeah, that whole tactic by the SEC and Big Ten to get the losers of the Conference Championship Games into the Holiday Bowl actually made things a little less interesting. Seriously, who thought Nebraska stood a chance against the team that was literally three yards from the national championship game?
Well, I did, Bad Luck Nathan.
After leading Georgia by a touchdown (I have the picture to prove it) and nearly going up two scores on the Bulldogs, Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah fumbled inside the Dawg twenty. Georgia came storming back. Nebraska didn't score again. Georgia fans were barking at me (literally). The score looked a lot worse than the game actually was, but how do you really justify giving up 45 points and 589 total yards? There is really no way.
My overall record: 4-9.
Two of the wins are over Baylor. One is over a winless Southern Miss team. Honestly, could it really get any worse? Well, I added a bonus slide just to answer that question.
Bonus: 2012 Nebraska Spring Game
April 14, 2012. Great day for a spring football game.
Unless, you know, you have my bad luck. My luck is so bad that, while they were announcing the cancellation of the 2012 Nebraska Spring Game because of severe weather, my house and car in Norfolk, Neb., were getting pelted with hail for 15 minutes straight. Seriously, look it up. YouTube that stuff.
Check out my seats for the game. They were amazing: club level, looking down on the field. My goodness, I could not have dreamt of better seats. And sure enough, Mother Nature decides to come in and steal all our fun.
I'm going to chalk that one up as a loss.
My record: 4-10.
Oh and watch out, Husker fans. I put my donation in for season tickets to Nebraska football, and I have tickets to this year's spring game. The good news: early weather predictions are calling for 63 and sunny at kickoff.