All posts by Big Red Fury

A Brutally Honest (and Mildly Delusional) Preview from a Northwestern Fan

Editor’s note: Dave Williams, aka White Sox Dave from Barstool Sports, was kind enough to write up a preview of Saturday’s game from the perspective of a Northwestern fan. Along with the White Sox, Dave really is a Northwestern fan (who knew they existed?) so it wasn’t a stretch for him to write from his long-suffering heart. Give him a follow on Twitter for some great sports takes and to see how much it hurts to be a loyal fan of teams like the White Sox and Northwestern. Move to Trash

Take it away Dave…

I’d like to preface everything you’re about to read by first addressing the big elephant in the room: Yes, Northwestern has casual fans. My ACT score wouldn’t have been good enough to get into NU if you doubled it, (thought it would have been about twice as good as the average UNL student HA!) and I have a pretty poor grasp of the English language, yet here I am, donning Purple every Saturday representing Chicago’s Big Ten Team. Yes, we do exist. Being a White Sox, Bears and Wildcats fan, I live an awful life as a sports fan. That’s neither here nor there though…

Anyways, though Nebby has only been in the conference for a short time, I feel like the two schools are developing a decent little rivalry right now. Each game has been a complete and total nail biter, save for a 21point victory for Nebraska in 2014. In the other 4 contests, the average margin of victory was a miniscule 2.25 ppg. Like I said, nail biters.

For the sake of keeping this preview short and sweet, I won’t break down each previous contest, just outline the scores showing exactly how close these two teams have played each other the last 5 years:

2011: Northwestern tops 10th ranked Nebby 28-25 in the B1G first meeting between the two.

2012: Nebby tops NU 29-28 in Evanston

2013: Nebby tops NU 27-24 on a Hail Mary with 4 seconds left. I legitimately thought about tying myself to cinder blocks and jumping into the Lake Michigan

Because I’m a masochist and I’m writing a guest preview, here’s the video for you pricks.

2014: Nebby stomps NU 38-17

2015: NU beats UNL 30-28 in Lincoln

Anyways, here’s what UNL fans need to know about Northwestern.

What to watch for when NU has the ball:

Best players: RB Justin Jackson, WR Austin Carr, QB Clayton Thorson

Well, the offense kinda stinks. And by kinda stinks I mean it totally blows and other than Justin Jackson, no one is above average. There isn’t necessarily a lack of “talent” on the offensive side of the ball, either, as there are 4 star, nationally renown recruits at both QB, RB, and TE. But the Northwestern offensive scheme flat out sucks, the offensive line is garbage, and the wide receiving core is probably the worst in the B1G. RB Justin Jackson is a stud, and will wind up as NU’s all time leading rusher should he stay healthy, but if he can’t develop a rhythm behind NU’s porous offensive line, then the Cats will be in extreme amounts of trouble against UNL.

If Jackson can get a ground game going for NU, it should hopefully open up the defensive enough where Thorson can throw the ball down field and move chains.

Keyword there: hopefully. Other than against a brutal Duke team, that hasn’t happened yet.

What to watch for when Nebraska has the ball:

Best players: MLB Anthony Walker, S Godwin Igwebuike, DL Tyler Lancaster

NU defense hasn’t been great so far and it was supposed to be totally lockdown this year. If it weren’t for injuries, there would be multiple draft picks suiting up in every level of the defense against Nebby this week, however only one is: MLB Anthony Walker.

Anthony Walker was 1st team all B1G in 2015, 3rd team All American, and named to every preseason “watch” list for defensive players and a future high round NFL draft pick… but he hasn’t been great so far. It was recently disclosed that he had a knee injury that held him out of preseason camp for 2 weeks and that he wasn’t quite in game shape until last week, so he’s got the benefit of the doubt as of now, but he HAS to be the best player on the field when NU is on D for them to stand a chance this week.

NU’s defensive backfield is riddled with injuries right now, as their 2nd best defensive player and future NFL draft pick DB Matt Harris is out with a concussion, S Kyle Queiro has a shoulder injury and another starting CB, Keith Watkins, was lost for the year with an ACL. They have good depth in the defensive backfield, however, and depth that has legit starting B1G talent, so there’s not toooo much too worry about there. They just need to do a better job of getting off the field on 3rd down.

Special Teams:

Nobody cares about special teams, but Northwestern’s kicker has won like 4 games with last second field goals, he just can’t make them when there isn’t any pressure on him.

Game prediction:

It’s gonna be like a home game for Big Red and the atmosphere in Evanston will be electric, so I think the defense [Editor’s note: That’s really clever that you call that long ass grass “the defense.”] slows down UNL and the NU offense does just enough to win. Oh, and NU will have a pick 6 for a score after that BUM Tommy Frazier throws a ball off his back foot into double coverage. Ultimately, that will be the difference in this game

Cats 24

Huskers 21

Book it.

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Field Trip Report: Calabasas High’s Season Opener

Two simple things will help you go far in life: a positive attitude and a cooler full of snacks.

And it sure doesn’t hurt to be a Husker fan.

All three elements were in full effect last Friday night as those of us who make up the West Coast branch of Big Red Fury took a little road trip from Los Angeles out to the far reaches of the San Fernando Valley to catch Calabasas High’s season opener against their cross freeway rivals Agoura High.

Malibu
The Pacific Coast Highway is no I-80 but it will have to do.

There’s no denying that the Calabraska hype is real and we were curious to see for ourselves just how real it was. We’re pleased to report that it is very real and very well deserved. The players, coaches, parents, and fans who make up the Calabasas High football program have built something very special. This is the kind of school Husker Nation should be proud to have a connection with and the feeling is mutual in Calabasas. Folks are very impressed and optimistic about what is happening in Lincoln.

On that note, we should mention that we went as fans and most certainly weren’t on a mission to dig up any dirt or add a NCAA recruiting violation to our list of achievements, everything about field our trip was on the up and up. We were simply out to watch a game and have a good time under the Friday night lights.

And that good time started like this…

Tailgate

Twenty minutes later, we were taking a selfie with the first of several new friends.

Our new Calabasas friend
Since we’re double teaming this recap, we’re going to audible into an option so you can get two distinct points of view in one post.

Take it away, Leslie.

The most interesting thing about tailgating a high school football game is tailgating a high school football game.

Leslie Tailgate
Leslie gets in some reps before she heads to Lincoln for the season opener.

I’m going to need this to be a thing that people around the country openly accept and embrace. JV games stink and there is no denying it. So why not fire up the grill and watch from what was called the “sky box” overlooking Frank Greminger Stadium at Agoura High. Very exclusive stuff happens here in Southern California. However, not everybody showed up on Friday (hey Husker fans, where were you?), but the important people were there.

And guys, he did come up to us and ask for a picture. I just wanted to tell you that because: 1) I hate asking people for pictures, that’s a rookie move, act like you hang out with celebrities all the time and 2) I just wanted to tell you that Keyshawn Johnson asked for a picture with me.

It was a pretty awesome night. Seeing Tristan Gebbia connect with Keyshawn Jr. for the first touchdown of the season was cool if you like to think about those guys playing in Memorial Stadium. (I do).

Skybox ViewHey football, it’s good to see you again.

There were some other pretty good players, I really liked this guy named Darnay Holmes. A WR and CB. I think he might have a bright future ahead of him. Hell, Nebraska might even start to recruit him. That could be fun.

Anyway, after a ton of penalties, two interceptions, and shaking off some first game rust, Calabasas ran away with the game 46-28. It wasn’t even close. None of the starters even played the 4th quarter which gave me time to enjoy a couple more wings and ask around about this new Darnay kid.

Watching with Keyshawn
Leslie enjoys the game from the “sky box” with her new bestie Keyshawn.

OK, Todd. Now it’s your turn to impress everyone.

Well, Leslie,  since it’s going to be hard to top your sarcasm I’ll lead with this photo I took of that “Darnay kid” sharing a laugh with Tristan on the sidelines in the fourth quarter.

Tristan Gebbia and Darnay Holmes
Tristan Gebbia’s final stat line after three quarters of work: 23 for 31 and 320 yards. Meanwhile, Darnay Holmes scored touchdowns on three of his seven catches, totaling 119 yards, and was voted the game’s MVP.

What you don’t see in this photo is me standing in the eye of the hurricane that was the Calabasas student section. Those kids brought the energy for four quarters and still were polite enough to not heckle the old guy who wandered into their turf. A good bunch of kids they were.

The same held true for the parents in attendance. Watching the game with a couple of retired NFL stars was a treat. Getting a glimpse of how differently they see a football game was mind blowing. As soon as the players lined up over the ball, they knew exactly how things were going to play out. And on top of that, they were some of the chillest sports parents I’ve ever seen. Keyshawn Sr. and Darick Holmes could post up at a youth soccer complex and charge good money for lessons in how to remain calm and relaxed while your kid is on the field. It was really nice to see.

As far as the Calabasas squad goes, they’re going to be a tough team to beat. Once Gebbia worked out the first quarter kinks, he was money. He’s going to have a lot of fun this year throwing to Keyshawn Jr. and Darnay. Defenses are going to be bummed trying to cover those two.

From start to finish, this was a great experience. The Calabasas fans showed the same enthusiasm and gracious hospitality that Husker fans are known for. Seriously, it was like walking into an alternate dimension of awesome. If you get a chance, you should definitely check out a game. You can see the full Calabasas schedule here.

We’ll definitely be back for some more Coyote Football. That’s for sure.


 

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The Big Red Fury Season Preview: Our Most Optimistic Post of the Year

As the calendar lurches towards the start of the season, each passing day brings fans new reasons for hope or dread as college football prognosticators trot out their previews.

Well, we’ve got nothing but good news and better news for you, dear reader. All three of us here at Big Red Fury summoned the ghosts of football future and came away with a consensus opinion.

The Huskers are going to kick a lot of ass this season.

The only question mark is exactly how much ass will be kicked.

Pour yourself a glass of Kool-aid. You’re going to enjoy this preview.

Game 1: Fresno State – September 3

FRESNO STATE FAN
At least one guy is pumped to be living in the Grand Island of California.

KUBRICKIAN GLEE: Tim DeRuyter got off to an auspicious start as Fresno State’s head coach when he landed in the raisin belt capital back in 2012. He won two straight Mountain West Conference titles while amassing a solid 20-6 record. Since then, Tim’s luck has gone to shit. The Bulldogs are just 9-17 over the last two seasons. You may remember Nebraska terrorizing these bastards on their home turf back in 2014 in a 55-19 waxing. Things aren’t going to get much better for the Bulldogs when FSU hits Lincoln for the season opener. Nebraska 49 Fresno State 10.

TODD MUNSON: It’s not BYU so I’m happy. Does the dad from Orange County Choppers still coach the Bulldogs? Huskers roll 42-17 and give fans visions of somewhere between 1995-1997.

LESLIE MICEK: I think it’s going to be a bigger blowout than 35-14 but I’ll stick with with something more realistic. This is the part of the season where anything is possible. I would have said BYU would have been a blowout last year but then I watched them throw a Hail Mary.

Game 2: Wyoming – September 10

WYOMING FANS
Pull your pants up, son. You’re wearing a bucket, old man.

KG: Right about now Craig Bohl might wonder why he exchanged the dynastic FCS bounty of Fargo, North Dakota for the massive headache of trying to run a Division 1 program out of Laramie, Wyoming. Sure, the scenery beats the hell out of Fargo, but former Husker Bohl had become the Tom Osborne of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, forging a run not dissimilar to Nebraska in the mid 1990s. But now? Bohl is the owner of a 6-18 record playing in the God-forsaken Mountain West. Relish those 2015 victories over Nevada and UNLV, Craig, because you and your Cowboys aren’t waking up from your prolonged nightmare any time soon. Nebraska 45 Wyoming 14.

TODD: It’s a rude return to Lincoln for Craig Bohl. Nebraska wins 52-21 in such a convincing fashion that fans will momentarily forget that Oregon is coming to Lincoln the following week.

LESLIE: Wyoming stinks. Huskers win 45-7.

Game 3: Oregon – September 17

Sad Ducks Fans
When your Tinder date turns out to be a juggalo

KG: It’s Duck season! Nebraska fans have this date circled on their calendars the day these two teams were scheduled. Some of the luster may have fallen off, though, after the recently mighty Ducks fell back to Earth a little in 2015 with a disappointing (for them) 9-4 campaign. Offensive coordinator Scott Frost’s departure to UCF also saps a little of the intrigue this game had going for it just a year ago. But seeing Mike Riley get a crack at his old in-state nemesis with an arsenal like he’s never had in Corvalis— there’s still plenty to get excited about.

The Ducks, as usual, will be able to put up some points on the Blackshirts. But Oregon’s own defense is a definite liability. Opponents scored an average of 44 points against Oregon in 2015. And most of that personnel returns in 2016. Throw in a questionable quarterback situation (that has former Husker commit Terry Wilson in the mix), and conditions seem favorable for Mike Riley getting a little payback against the old neighborhood bully. Nebraska 42 Oregon 38.

TODD: This game is the only question mark on the Huskers’ home schedule and there’s no middle ground. A win for the Huskers will mean the sky’s the limit for the season (at least until October 29). A loss, no matter how close, will mark the return of  the dark cloud of doom (at least until October 29.) Best case scenario for this game is that Coach Riley channels his inner John Kreese and sweeps the leg for a full 60 minutes. Huskers win 28-24.

LESLIE: I’m glad they don’t have  Vernon Adams or Scott Frost anymore. Easy to root against them again. Huskers. 28-21.

Game 4: at Northwestern – September 24

NORTHWESTERN FANS
A moment of silence for these poor kids who were rejected by Ivy League schools.

KG: Let’s be honest, before Nebraska joined the Big Ten, what would you have predicted Nebraska’s record would be against Northwestern five seasons in if you’d have bothered to even think about it? 5-0? 4-1, allowing for some strange fiasco of an upset somewhere along the way?

Well, Nebraska is now 3-2 in conference vs. Northwestern. And all but one of those games has turned out to be a nail-biter. Last season’s match was one of a gamut of frustrating, heartbreaking losses within the final minute of play, despite Nebraska outmatching the Wildcats in virtually all facets of the game. The difference in that contest (as with most in 2015) was turnovers. Nebraska had just one against Northwestern, but it was a big one — a 72-yard pick-six with just over seven minutes left in the half. Nebraska was marching on that drive and, had Armstrong’s pass gone the other way, it would’ve meant a 17-7 lead that probably wouldn’t have been relinquished. Instead, the Wildcats took a 14-10 advantage, giving them just enough to stave off Nebraska’s control of the game in the second half.

If Armstrong is new and improved in the turnover department, as some observers have said, things probably won’t be quite as rosy for Northwestern this year. Even with the game in Evanston which, let’s be honest, isn’t a particular advantage for the home team. Nebraska 31 Northwestern 21.

TODD: The good thing about playing Northwestern on the road is you don’t have to worry about the Wildcats coming into Lincoln and finding a new way to humiliate the Huskers. Nebraska hasn’t lost at Evanston since 1931 and they won’t do it again this year. Huskers win 31-17.

LESLIE: Not only am I planning on sneaking onto the sidelines again at that embarrassment that they call Ryan Field, I’m planning on dancing after a bunch of touchdowns. Huskers 34-does it even matter? Northwestern is losing.

Game 5: Illinois – October 1

ILLINOIS FANS
Sorry, Chief. Lovie Smith won’t save your Illini from another horrible season.

KG: Prior to the Purdue debacle, Illinois was the absolute nadir of Nebraska’s season in 2015. I still boil with anger when I recall the manner in which Nebraska squandered a 13-0 4th quarter lead only to lose in the final ten damn seconds. It was like watching the scene in Austin Powers when the security guard screamed for a solid 60 seconds as Powers’ steamroller inched toward him. All he had to do. All Nebraska had to do. Was step out of the way.

When the Illini come to Lincoln this year, expect something more akin to the Pelini-era outcomes. Nebraska 49 Illinois 17

TODD: Just to prove that last season was a total aberration, the Huskers should run the ball every time they face a 3rd & 7 and rack up 150+ bonus yards in the process. Chief Illiniwek gets wrecked 42-10.

LESLIE: I’m worried because Illinois will be coming off a bye week and I’m just kidding. Huskers 31-14.

Bye week – October 8

KG: I’ll be driving the choo-choo at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch.

TODD: Do some yard work. Reintroduce yourself to your family.

LESLIE: I predict Nebraska will win.

Game 6: at Indiana – October 15

INDIANA
A capacity crowd was on-hand for Indiana’s season opener last year.

KG: One of the most intriguing matches of 2016 is Nebraska’s trip to Bloomington. The Hoosiers have the most statistically dominant offense in the Big Ten — although, talent-wise, that title probably should go to Ohio State. Nonetheless, Indiana can put up some points and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just ask the 2014 SEC East champions, Missouri. The Tigers fell to Indiana 31-27. On the heels of an Indiana loss to Bowling Green, too. 

The Hoosiers will be game for a basketball-type score (what else would you expect), but Nebraska should have no trouble tearing through Indiana’s defense. This one is going to be a track meet (and a little too close for comfort) but I see Nebraska pulling it out. Nebraska 41 Indiana 34. 

TODD: This is Nebraska’s sixth season as a member of the Big Ten and it’s their first time squaring off against Indiana as a conference opponent. Your days of dodging the Big Red are over, Indiana. Huskers win 55-21.

LESLIE: A battle to the death of two teams coming off 6-7 records. Only difference is that Nebraska is a lot better than their record shows. Also, Indiana plays Ohio St. the week before and Nebraska comes off a bye. Sorry, Indiana. Huskers 45-17.

Game 7: Purdue – October 22

PURDUEPhotos of Purdue fans do not exist on the internet so here are some Indiana fans insulting the ladies of Purdue.

KG: Revenge will be at hand. Purdue is the worst team in the Big Ten and they will come to Lincoln having poked the gorilla with its ridiculous 55-45 win last year. Look for Nebraska to eliminate the five turnovers that turned last season’s match into an embarrassment. Nebraska 49 Purdue 17.

TODD: The Huskers should save the Boliermakers the trouble of a road trip and just schedule an Indiana/Purdue double header the week before. Or, they could give Tommy the week off and let Ryker start so he can get chance at cold-blooded revenge. Huskers win 38-24.

LESLIE: Goals for the Purdue game this year: under 4 interceptions, rush more than 77 yards, and win. Simple. Huskers 37-14.

Game 8: at Wisconsin – October 29

badgersfansWisconsin fans are creeps.

KG: Quick trivia question: What is Nebraska’s combined record vs. Big Ten juggernauts Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State?

Is it a) 4-10 or b) 10-4?

If you said “b” 10-4, give yourself a cigar! This cherry-picked bit of knowledge belies the notion that Nebraska has struggled in its time in the Big Ten. Nebraska has, in fact, posted the 4th best league record since joining the conference in 2011. While it hasn’t quite hit the mark that most Husker fans anticipated heading in to the Big Ten, Nebraska has held its own in virtually every category. Except one.

Playing Wisconsin.

Oy. I wonder if Barry Alvarez has any mixed emotions seeing the Monster of Madison he created bat his alma mater around like Lennie Small petting a scared bunny. While Mike Riley’s Huskers did a great job of not allowing the Badgers to embarrass Nebraska (in a way Pelini rarely could), the last second loss was still among the hardest to stomach in 2015. Andy Janovich’s 55-yard burst up the middle in the waning minutes of the game had Husker fans believing the Wisconsin demon had been exorcised. But no, the Cheesehead Linda Blair had one more gullet of projectile vomit to spew in our collective faces.

It will be tough. But I think Nebraska goes to Madison and takes care of business. It helps that Wisconsin, I believe, is on a slow downtick from its respectable run of the last decade. Nebraska 28 Wisconsin 24.

TODD: Welcome to the first installment of the most terrifying two weeks of the season. Since joining the Big Ten, the Huskers’ average margin of defeat when playing at Madison has been a robust 33 points. For the sake of it being August and all, I’ll go out on a limb and say Mike Riley delivers an eat shit and FU of his own to the troglodytes who call themselves Badger fans. Huskers 24 Badgers 21.

LESLIE: Don’t be scared, Todd. The Blackshirts won’t be. Huskers 24-17.

Game 9: at Ohio State – November 5

columbusriot1
This is what happens when Columbus runs out of Cincinnati Chili.

KG: Ohio State. What’s there to say, really? Urban Meyer scares the shit out of me. And so does the talent level in Columbus. Still, in this age of parity, no team is absolutely invincible. Nebraska will get beat in The Horseshoe. But make no mistake, Riley and his squad will make a game of it. Nebraska 28 Ohio State 34.

TODD: If you’re traveling to this game, here are two things to know: 1) It’s only 175 miles from Columbus to Youngstown and 2) Bo Pelini and his Penguins will be playing on the road at North Dakota St. If you regret not egging his house when he lived in Lincoln, this is your big chance to make amends and give yourself at least one thing you’ll want to remember because I don’t see how the Huskers can escape that burning couch of a state with a win. Ohio State 35 Nebraska 21.

LESLIE: Todd doesn’t seem to understand that it’s August and this is the time right after depression and right before reality. The perfect time for optimism. The Huskers are going to walk right into that dump called Ohio Stadium and make that WR coach Zach Smith want to delete his twitter account. I hope they pass the ball 100% of the time and win so we can all tag him with the #Shhh hashtag that he loves so much. Westerkamp, DPE, Reilly, and Stan the Man are gonna get savage all up in Coach Smith’s face. Honest to god, I hate that guy. Shut him the hell up. Huskers 28-21.

Game 10: Minnesota – November 12

sel 4078Minnesota Nebraska
If you don’t have enough fans who are willing to spell out your team’s name, you don’t deserve to have a team.

KG: Jerry Kill had a remarkable run at Minnesota, moving the Gophers from an after-thought to a solid middle-of-the-conference program. I genuinely feel bad for Jerry and his health issues. But I’m not sorry to see him absent from the opposite sideline of Nebraska. The Husker dominance of Minnesota resumed in 2015. Onward. Nebraska 45 Minnesota 21.

TODD: A week of many hack Caddyshack jokes being made by this site culminates with the Huskers starting a new win streak at the expense of the Gophers who will find themselves hiding near the bottom of the Big Ten West standings. Huskers win 31-17.

LESLIE: If the Huskers could beat you last year, they can definitely beat you this year. Huskers 55-21.

Game 11: Maryland – November 19

MARYLAND FANS
Supposedly this is what Maryland fans look like.

KG: Maryland and Nebraska meet for the first time ever in Memorial Stadium. Since the two teams are unfamiliar with each other, it’s good news for Nebraska that the Terps are about as intimidating as a squad of actual turtles. Nebraska 51 Maryland 24

TODD: You might remember Maryland as the team who had those atrocious uniforms a couple seasons back, or for their most famous alumni (Shawne Merriman) dating Tila Tequila. If you need to use this weekend to prep for Thanksgiving you’re in luck. This game won’t be close. Huskers 42 Maryland 20.

LESLIE: Three wins last year? Good lord. Stick to basketball, Maryland. Huskers win by a billion.

Game 12: at Iowa – November 25

IOWA FANS
When Iowa fans realize their welfare checks aren’t big enough to cover Powerball tickets or an oil vaporizer pen and the Vape juice.

KG: The worst 12-0 regular season program I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing take the gridiron. As snake-bit as Nebraska was in 2015, Iowa was itself holding aces all season. But both teams showed their true colors in bowl games — a solid 37-29 victory over UCLA by Nebraska (a healthy margin that, quite frankly could’ve been even healthier) and a 45-16 ass shellacking of Iowa by Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Iowa made rings to mark their 12-0 regular season accomplishment. Good for them. Fucking losers. Nebraska 45 Iowa 10.

TODD: Mike Riley puts the exclamation point on #IOWAHATEWEEK by stealing the keys to Herky Hawkey’s El Camino and burning some donuts on the 50 yard line of Kinnick Stadium following a Huskers blowout victory.  Huskers win 38-14.

LESLIE: If I was running things, Iowa would have to sit out a year for that Rose Bowl performance. But since it doesn’t look like that is going to happen, Nebraska is going to have to play them. Unlike last season, Iowa actually has to play some real teams before Nebraska, so there is no chance they go into this undefeated again. As you can tell, I actually have the opposite. Nebraska is going in there undefeated this year and kicking some Iowa ass. Leave me alone. A person can dream. Huskers 21-17.

(But for real, watching Iowa collapse at the Rose Bowl was the highlight of last season.)

Final regular season tally:

KG: Huskers go 11-1 with a loss to Ohio State.
TODD: Same.
LESLIE: Huskers run the table and go 12-0.

Remember, what you just read is published on the internet, so you know it’s true. GBR.

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