Nebraska-Texas A&M: Huskers Battle Two Opponents in 9-6 Loss

Kraig LundbergAnalyst IIINovember 21, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: A penalty flag lays on the ground during a preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Bears 14-9. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Who was the 12th man on Kyle Field Saturday night?

The referees.

Oh great, more complaining about officiating from Husker fans.

Well guess what, folks?  Whether you choose to believe it or not, it's justified.

Before I get to anything else, I want to point out why that is true.  In a 6-6 tie in the fourth quarter, the Blackshirts, who were brilliant all night, had the Aggies in a 3rd and long situation.  The coaches dialed up a safety blitz from Courtney Osborne, who shot in and laid the wood on Ryan Tannehill as he released the ball.

The ball fell incomplete and the Husker offense, which had finally started clicking, was in position to get the ball back with some nice momentum.  But a flag was called.

Roughing the passer, No. 12, defense. Fifteen yards.  First down.

At this point, I was beside myself.  Osborne was literally in the air as Tannehill threw the ball, and there was absolutely no way he could have avoided contact.  The Aggies subsequently drove into field goal range and kicked what ended up being the game winning field goal.

Talk about a back breaking call.

And when a back breaking call is unwarranted, it's pretty safe to say anybody would be outraged.  Compound that with the last few weeks of horrible officiating, and you have yourself one upset fan base in Lincoln.

What's more, the Aggies had come into this game as the most penalized team in the Big 12.  They were penalized twice for 10 yards, compared to 16 on Nebraska for 140 yards.  Interesting that one of A&M's least penalized performances was against Nebraska.  In post game, Bo Pelini refused to make a single comment on the officiating.  It was pretty obvious what he thought about it.

Before I continue, I want to congratulate the Texas A&M Aggies for playing a great defensive game and playing their hearts out.  They did what they had to do and got the win.  This team has surged under Tannehill, and they are a much better team now than they were for much of the season.  I have no hard feelings towards the boys in College Station.

When you think about it, it's really quite amazing Nebraska was in this game at all.  Martinez didn't play a large portion of the first half, and Cody Green didn't do a very good job as a replacement.  He just isn't ready for the big time yet. 

While Martinez was able to gut out the second half after severely re-injuring his ankle, he clearly had very little explosiveness, and it also affected his footwork in the pocket.  Everything was against Nebraska in this game, and they played their hearts out.

The defense looked phenomenal again this evening.  While the Aggies did get a few big plays from running back Cyrus Gray and receiver Ryan Swope, overall the defense was the reason the Huskers almost won this game. 

Star receiver Jeff Fuller, a man with a very bright NFL future, was locked down for most of the night by Nebraska's stud cornerbacks.  The only catch he had was a long pass down the sideline against Alfonzo Dennard, who had good defensive position but could do little to prevent the hook-up as a result of a perfect pass from Tannehill.

The Husker secondary is clearly the best in the nation, and the defensive line looks to be hitting its stride.  Linebacker Lavonte David continues to play at a very high level.

Given the injury to Martinez and what he means to the offense, the Huskers outplayed the Aggies in most aspects of the game.  But it's pretty tough to win when you give the other team 140 yards in penalties. 

While most of those penalties were good calls, some of them should not have been thrown, primarily some of those that were most devastating.  And while the holding penalties called against Nebraska were correct, there wasn't a single hold against A&M.  There were several instances that probably should have been called.

This has now crossed over from questionable to ridiculous, and while I've never been one to blame a loss on the referees, this is a loss that should be partly attributed to that dreadful call on Courtney Osborne.  Heck, even Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit agreed that it was bad.

Now, I want to officially call out the Nebraska fan base.

Next week against Colorado is suddenly very important and becomes interesting with Colorado playing for a bowl berth.  The Buffs have found a new fire under their interim head coach, and they will come out ready to fight against the Huskers.

Nebraska will clearly have anger from this game, and what they need to do is channel it all towards the Colorado game.  I want to see the Blackshirts dominate; I want to see the offensive line drive the defense off the ball and pound the rock.

And what I want to be a part of next Friday is a crowd that is more fired up than we have been all season.

Husker fans, we still control our own destiny.  Put aside the fumbles, the injuries, the officiating. 

Let's go out there, let loose, and yell so loud that the executives and officials of the Big 12 hear us all the way down in Irving, Texas.