A Fumble for a Fumble: Nebraska Atop the Big 12 North
It's fitting I think.
That Nebraska's offensive woes this season really started with a fumble in the red zone against the Texas Tech Red Raiders early in the season and may have ended with a fumble this last Saturday in the first quarter against the Jayhawks.
Some may point to a less-than-stellar effort against Virginia Tech, even though the ball was actually moving well in that game, a few less offensive penalties and a non-dropped pass by Menelik Holt and that game is seen as a big win instead of a disappointing loss.
Maybe you point to the Missouri game, but in a torrential downpour, Zac Lee led this Husker offense down the field four times in the fourth quarter for a heck of a come from behind win.
But no, I point to a single play in a single game that started this downward spiral. A botched screen play to Niles Paul that was an obvious lateral. The ball careened to the ground and Texas Tech picked it up and scampered 82 yards to the end zone.
Since that play Nebraska had mustered no touchdown drives of over 50 yards in over 40 opportunities.
Until Saturday afternoon on Nov. 15.
The opening play was good maybe even great with a 30-yard-plus play-action pass to Niles Paul.
An option play and run later and Nebraska was on the one yard line about to get an opening drive score for the first time in a long time.
That's when it happened. The play that hopefully removed the curse of the Paul fumble.
Zac Lee ran an option left, saw a hole, cut, and drove his shoulder into a defender and stretched the ball towards the goal. Much to every Husker player and fans' dismay the ball popped loose and fell harmfully to the turf.
Darrel Stuckey looked primed to pounce on the football and claim a touch-back for the much maligned Jayhawk defense, but out of seemingly nowhere came a determined Roy Helu Junior.
Helu jumped on the ball and preserved the offensive threat. Not only that, he made good on that threat by jumping on the ball in the end zone to record the first of his three touch downs in the evening.
It was this first one though that seemed to redeem, at least for a little while that play against Texas Tech.
After that play Nebraska posted another 24 points in the evening seemingly breaking out of their offensive slump just in time.
Are all the questions answered? No. Have some of them been? Yes.
Shawn Watson has finally conceded. He has finally made good on his promise to stick to the run and play action as best he can. With the help of Tom Osborne, this offense could turn into a weapon yet this season.
A fumble for seven for the wrong team started this slump, let's hope that a fumble for seven for the right team ends it and becomes the catalyst for a rise to offensive competence.
The Huskers have a chance to take the North this weekend and to get another nine win season the Friday after that.
I have a feeling this wasn't an aberration. I have a feeling this team is going somewhere.
And that somewhere just might be Texas for the Big 12 championship game.
No more fumbles, no more spread. It's time to hit 'em in the mouth and run it down their throats.
Watch out nation this Husker team may have just found an identity and not a moment too soon.
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