If the first thing you did when you woke up this morning was check the box score from the Foster Farms Bowl, don’t worry.
You weren’t the only one who did that.
It wasn’t a dream. Nebraska really did run wild against UCLA and came away with a 37-29 victory that was equal parts fun and gut-wrenching anguish.
Even when the Big Red was trailing 21-7 midway through the second quarter, Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf stuck to their game plan* and continued to pound UCLA like Rocky slugging a side of beef. It was a glorious sight to behold as the Huskers chipped away at the Bruin defense a few yards at a time and rattled off 30 unanswered points.
UCLA finally replied early in the fourth quarter with a quick and methodical secondary shredding strike to pull within 8 points but that would be it. A missed field goal and absolutely clutch end zone interception by Chris Jones would seal the Bruins’ fate. The Huskers finally ran out of new and cruel ways to blow it at the end.
*Let’s Talk About That Game Plan: No doubt this next week will be full of think pieces and talk radio jibber jabber about how Riley and Langsdorf have finally found the light when it comes to Huskers’ offensive identity. Were these new look Huskers the result of a philosophical sea change or was it something as simple as Coach Riley checking his twitter mentions while enjoying a complimentary omelet at the Embassy Suites? Could an endless stream of eggs imploring him to run the football actually have enough sway to make him throw UCLA a change up for four quarters? It would be amazing if that were the case. If there was one thing message board coaches got right this year it was the need to run the football.
Three Quick Wishes For 2016…
1) The Return of Tommy Legstrong: Tommy ran for 305 fewer yards in 2015 (400 vs 705). Splitting the difference in 2016 would be gravy.
2) A Lockdown Secondary (or at least one that isn’t consistently beaten): UCLA’s 60 yard bomb in the second quarter looked eerily similar to other times the Huskers were repeatedly scorched on the deep ball throughout the season. Then, when the Bruins started to rally in the fourth, they ran the exact same screen pass 4 or 5 times. The only variation was flipping the formation to the opposite side of the field one time.
3) A Nickname For Nate Gerry: Here are a few that come to mind… Jailhouse Rock, The Convict, Penalty Box, Big Boss Man, Lock Up, Early Exit… (good thing there are still 9 months until the season starts)
Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: A solid win over UCLA means Coach gets his balloon back for the off-season.
NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH
17:36: The Huskers’ time-of-possession advantage over UCLA.
62: The number of times the Huskers ran the ball against the Bruins for a total of 326 yards on the ground.
Now let’s compare that effort to the rest of season:
BYU – 37/126
S. Alabama – 37/258
Miami – 34/153
S. Miss – 39/242
Illinois – 34/187
Wisconsin – 37/196
Minnesota – 36/203
Northwestern – 38/82
Purdue – 33/77
Michigan State – 36/179
Rutgers – 35/174
Iowa – 38/137
4: The number of times the 1995 Huskers, aka the greatest team in the history of college football, topped 62 rushes during their entire season. (70 vs Pacific, 63 vs Washington State, 68 vs Iowa State, 68 vs Florida)
And all this leads to Larry the Cable Guy winning the award for “Most Accurate Tweet of the Night.”
Wearing out the defense with power running! I've died on gone to the 90's!
— Larry The Cable Guy (@GitRDoneLarry) December 27, 2015