Cue the triumphant clucking of humanely raised, steroid-free chickens.
The Foster Farms Bowl is finally here.
You’re excited, right?
Like more excited than this chicken, right?
It's game day! Do your happy dance! pic.twitter.com/E2WCC0Yjb9
— Redbox Bowl (@RedboxBowl) December 26, 2015
If you’re finding it hard to nod in agreement like some kind of subservient chicken, it’s OK. It really is. In all honesty, I’ve kind of tuned out the lead up to the Foster Farms Bowl. It’s amazing how the return of Star Wars can make a guy instantly forget about the woes of the Huskers. Still, they have a game today and I’m back on the Big Red train in full force.
Here’s our preview…
If you can remember all the way back to September, UCLA went in to the season at #13 in the AP Poll. If I recall correctly, the Bruins were a pre-season top 10 on Sam McKewon’s ballot. Luckily, for the sake of its voters, the AP doesn’t keep an archive of week-by-week ballots so that can’t be confirmed.
UCLA had a hot 4-0 start, including a one point squeaker against BYU thanks to Tanner Mangum’s last second magic finally running out. From there, the Bruins hit the skids hard against Arizona State and at Stanford where Christian McCaffrey had a record setting day en route to the Cardinal winning by three touchdowns. Still, the Bruins won the yardage battle by a healthy margin.
That sort of statistical anomaly has been a hallmark of UCLA’s season. Against Colorado they were out gained 554-400 and had the ball for only 19 minutes, yet they won 35-31.
After crunching all of UCLA’s games, the key to beating the Bruins looks to be the ability for a team to one thing well. Go through the air like Washington State or do a ground and pound like USC, the Bruins can be shredded by a team that sticks to its guns.
And could very well be the Huskers’ problem.
Have Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf used the bowl practices to finally forge an identity into their offense? Or is it going to be another case of another game, a whole new look?
Here’s hoping they took a page or two from USC’s methodical pummeling and feed the Bruins a steady diet of seniors Imani Cross and Andy Janovich, assuming they remember they are still on the roster. Add in a dash of Jordan Westerkamp and some non-horrible decisions by Tommy Armstrong and the Huskers could leave Levi’s Stadium with the win.
No matter how it shakes out for the Huskers, the Foster Farms Bowl is going to be one odd duck of the game.
If the Huskers lose, they’ll notch their eighth loss in a season for the first time since the 1951 squad went 2-8. At least the 1-9 record of the 1957 Huskers will be “safe” for at least one more year.
If the Huskers win tonight, especially if it’s by a convincing margin, they’ll head into the off-season with a nice boost for 2016 but there will still be that unshakable aftertaste of a team that clearly didn’t live up to its potential.
Even still, sleeping through class and acing the final exam is a much better way to go out.
Let’s turn this D minus of a season into a D+. GBR.
A stat to impress your friends with: Tommy Armstrong is no longer the FBS interception leader. That honor currently belongs to Virginia’s Matt Johns who has 17 to Tommy’s paltry 16.
UCLA field trip: In case you missed it, I took a field trip to UCLA to see if anyone would notice a Husker fan roaming the campus.
I’m glad to say I didn’t get beat up, except for a few self-inflicted bumps and bruises and I even made some new friends.
While my new little buddy pretended to get eaten by the Bruin Bear, his dad and I had a good chat about Mike Riley. His take is that the guy is a great coach but just flat out cursed with bad luck dating back to his days with Chargers. My new little buddy and his dad were up from San Diego to visit Mattel Children’s Hospital and celebrate the 7th anniversary of the heart transplant he had at age 2. If you haven’t already, become an organ donor and help make a difference.