Will the Huskers bounce back this Saturday from what I believe was their worst loss in school history? Stay with me on that; I’ll explain before I leave the bright lights on this stage.
The stage was set before a national television audience and their own boisterous fans at Camp Randall Stadium, but the Huskers played second fiddle to the stars of the tragic comedy in Madison, Wis. last Saturday night.
Nebraska acted like the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" from the original shows of classic Saturday Night Live featuring Chevy Chase, Jon Belushi, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Laraine Newman, Dan Aykroyd, Al Franken and Jane Curtain.
The big, bad, bold but humble Badgers closed the curtain on the show with a goal line stance with seconds left to play in a 48-17 conquest. Wisconsin scored 21 points off three wild interceptions.
Nebraska fans realize that when the Huskers turn the ball over like that they usually lose. If any team turns the ball over like that and doesn’t force turnovers from the other team in a game, then they normally lose and sometimes by a huge margin.
The shoe has been on the other foot for Nebraska. Last year they romped over the Washington Huskies in September only to lose to them in the last game of the season.
Nebraska saw Washington bounce back against them in the Holiday Bowl after the Huskies had gotten shellacked in Seattle by the Huskers. Now, Nebraska will need to build off that experience and do something about the bullying Wisconsin Badgers.
Everyone thought the beasts of the NL East—the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves— had padlocks on the NL pennant chase until the St. Louis Cardinals woke up and swept the Braves out of playoff contention.
The Huskers were wide awake against Wisconsin, but Nebraska fell asleep at the wheel in the second half when champions put their bright and shining crowns on.
Big Red Nation can look on the bright side; the Wisconsin loss was only by a 31-point margin. That’s almost half of the latest worst margin Nebraska has ever been beaten by.
The 60-point can of Texas whipping that Mike Leach’s Texas Tech team punched Nebraska in the mouth with at Lubbock during Bill Callahan’s first year (2004) ranks at the very top of the worst Husker road game losses since the very lightweight years of the 1940s.
The game last Saturday night against Wisconsin was considered the heavyweight championship of the Big Ten. It was the first game of both team’s conference schedule. The Huskers still have time to bounce back, but they aren’t even the best team in their division right now.
The Michigan Wolverines claim that honor, and I’m sure they don’t want to give it up. Michigan State and Iowa are also ahead of the Huskers in the Legends Division. Only Northwestern and Minnesota are below Nebraska in the Big Ten division race.
Through the first five weeks of the season, a lot of media types were projecting the Huskers to compete for a national championship. I was one of them, but I don’t see or hear anyone speaking about a national championship for NU in these last few days.
I don’t believe it’s over for the Huskers. They can still win the inaugural Big Ten championship game, but with a caveat.
My familiar criticism of the Huskers has stemmed from the passing game. Like the NFL has become a passing league, college football is evolving in that aspect of the game.
Nebraska has to find a way to have a legitimate passing game. That’s the only way they can get back in the national championship picture.
The true No. 1 team in the nation, Oklahoma, made the switch to the professional style passing game and produced the No. 1 draft pick two years ago (Sam Bradford).
Cam Newton won the national championship last year with Auburn and is tearing the NFL rookie passing record book up. I saw the potential in Newton to be an outstanding professional passer because of the touch he has on deep and intermediate routes—mainstays in the NFL.
I can’t say the same about the Nebraska passing attack.
The big difference between the passing game in the NFL and in college is the use of tight ends. All of the good NFL quarterbacks—Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning—make excellent use of their tight ends.
The Cornhuskers should use theirs.
Because of the national stage and the hullabaloo surrounding Nebraska while leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten and the utter domination in NU’s first BTC game, I rank it as the worst whipping Nebraska has ever experienced.
I expect the Huskers to bounce back stronger, but I'm not sure if it'll be strong enough. On Wednesday, watch out for my prediction about the Buckeyes vs. Cornhuskers game to be played Saturday in Lincoln.
I haven’t been wrong in my predictions about the Huskers this season. My next one could shock you.
Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net