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00:01: A Number That Defines Nebraska's Season

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00:01: A Number That Defines Nebraska's Season

They said it couldn't be done. In fact, almost everyone, except for Husker fans, said that it was impossible, that Colt McCoy was too strong, that the offensive line and wide receivers would expose a defense that hadn't played "anyone" yet this season.

Todd McShay gave Nebraska a one percent chance of winning the Big 12 championship, and Texas fans didn't even give the Husker's that, saying that Nebraska was the "whipping boy" of the Big 12 South. Some even said Nebraska was at the bottom of the Big 12 South.

For 59 minutes and 59 seconds, those fans and McShay looked pretty ignorant.

It was Nebraska's D-line that exposed Texas' offensive line.

It was the Huskers' secondary that ate up the receiving corps of the Longhorns.

And it was the kick-returning of Niles Paul—not Jordan Shipley—that almost made the difference in a game.

Then, we come to that last second, that last fateful play that proved Nebraska still wasn't able to overcome years of losing football. 

Forget about the fact that changing clock time isn't reviewable by rule.

Forget about the fact that even Herbstreit and Musberger questioned call after call made by the Big 12 officials.

And forget about the fact that no pass-interference penalties were called on Texas' defensive backs for doing basically the same thing Nebraska's did all game.

This came down to one second. 

One play that would define a season, and Husker fans knew which way that play would go even before Bo called the time out to ice the kicker. 

That's right, it would go Texas' way.

Why?

Because, that's just the way things went for Nebraska in close games this year—one play, one second, and one turnover away from being a 12-1 team and Big 12 champions. 

Ironically, it's the number one that defines this season. 

A one-point loss to Virginia Tech, one fumble inside the five against Iowa State, and one point against Texas that separated this team's good season from being a great one.

But in football you have to play above the officials; you can't let a blown call or biased (whoops, that slipped) call get in the way of winning a game. 

You have to take it out of the officials' hands, and Nebraska didn't do that.

You could pick a myriad of plays to separate Nebraska in this game.

One foot out of bounds by Brandon Kinnie forced a field goal instead of a touchdown.

One more move by Niles Paul could have burst him into the end zone for his second punt return for a touchdown in two games. 

And one less interception in Texas' territory could have given Nebraska the one win they needed to put themselves back on the map.

One.

It's the number I will always remember this season. It's the number that will float around in Husker circles until the spring game. Then again until the season opener against Western Kentucky in September of 2010.

One.

Forever, fans will remember the plays that got away this season—instead of the plays that made a difference. 

People will forget about the miracle of a fourth quarter against Missouri, or the Gomes' forced fumble in the red zone against Kansas. 

Instead, they will focus on the one play in the Virginia Tech game, one of the eight turnovers in the Iowa State game, and, last but not least, that one second left on the clock in the Big 12 Championship game.

Before we go on blaming refs for the loss, though, an important note must be addressed—Adi Kunalic.

Kunalic is probably the worst-feeling Husker this morning. 

He's probably the one who will relive that moment over and over again until it turns his mind to liquid. 

That kickoff, instead of going through the end zone, took a freak of a bounce and landed out of bounds. 

It was something he hadn't ever done before, something he'd never had a problem doing, but he did it.

My heart sank, and my head got hot.

Angry to the core, I began to realize that, once again, a game like this against a top-10 team would be taken away from us by someone's inability to perform.

Then, the next play happened, and Asante, in true Larry form, made the worst tackle a guy can make: the horse collar. That's really where it ended. 

Even as Colt McCoy lazily rolled out to the right and threw the ball out of bounds, I knew that those two mistakes wouldn't go unpunished.

Indeed they didn't. And Texas won.

Had Nebraska won, there would undoubtedly be an influx of Texas and BCS fans screaming "foul"  because of the lopsided statistics in the game. 

Texas fans would be up in arms, screaming about losing, despite putting up nearly twice as many yards as the Nebraska offense. 

The reality of the remaining second on that clock still eats away at Husker fans. 

Whether it was the right call or not will be debated forever—as long as college football is still around. 

That's really not the point I'm trying to make here, though.

The point is that this season is defined by three plays: one play, one fumble, and one second.

It's not often that a season is encompassed in an instant. 

There are plenty of sports that define themselves on last seconds. Basketball and hockey are the two that come to mind.

But even then the season doesn't seem to be defined by these last-second miracles—just the one game.

For Nebraska, it's the definition of a season, of a program scratching and clawing its way back into the national spotlight. 

It's a season that still has the fans in a tunnel but finally able to see the light. 

It's a season of almost-but-not-quites and a season of unforgettably forgettable moments.

Nebraska has one game left to end on a positive note—one more game, one more chance to right some wrongs, one more opportunity to get a 10th victory and momentum into next season.

There is one more game for one more man trying to make his last mark on the football level. 

For Ndamukong Suh and the defense to continue their dominance and for the offense to right some wrongs.

If this season is defined by the number one, then there is no better time to rise up than now.

With one game to go in a season that could be defined by one second.

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