Tag Archives: alabama

Diminishing Returns: The state of Nebraska’s National Prestige.

You may have noticed something curious with the latest AP poll in regard to Nebraska.

Since dropping a heartbreaker to BYU two weeks ago and looking quite polished against South Alabama (in a week in which many schools up and down the AP Top 25 struggled mightily against lesser competition) Nebraska has failed to collect a single vote from any AP voter. In the meantime, the Comeback Cougars have climbed steadily up the AP ladder with dramatic wins over both Nebraska and Boise State.

BYU currently sits at #19. And, as well they should. Both victories were hard-fought and gutsy.

But when you add up the number of teams ranked below BYU along with those unranked schools receiving votes, you find a whopping 26 football teams.

Zoinks!

Like, where's NebraskaGranted, it’s merely Week 2. There are plenty of undefeated teams out there for voters to consider before factoring in the 1-loss teams. But when a team has another team dead to rights for the win and only gives up the victory on a last second miracle, shouldn’t that losing team at least get a look from the voters as being in the same general ball park as the winner?

Instead of wedging 26 friggin’ teams between them? Maybe it’s just me… Call me crazy.

It’s a disheartening lack of respect in general for a program that, from 1969 to 2002 was ranked in 397 out of 400 consecutive AP polls. (And never, over that time, did the Huskers fail to at least receive votes.)

It was such an amazing run of national relevance and esteem for Nebraska that, when the Huskers’ remarkable high-level consistency came crashing down with the 7-7 season of 2002, the Los Angeles Times sports page ran an article with the following gist: There was no surprise that Nebraska suffered a slump that year. The surprise was — why did it take so long?

The article went on to detail the amazing level of performance sustained by Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne and then, briefly, by Frank Solich. It was a nice bit of Chicken-Soup-For-the-Soul for a Nebraska kid living in LA and suffering through what I’d hoped would only be a temporary downturn for the Huskers.

[Editor’s note: The article in question is seemingly impossible to find but this one from October of 2002 will give you a nice flashback to just how dire things were for the Big Red.]

Twelve seasons later, we’re all still waiting for a full recovery. While only two subsequent seasons have been worse than 2002, Nebraska has failed to reach the 11-win mark even once since then. By comparison, Nebraska racked up twelve such 11-win seasons in the 31-year span from 1970 to 2001. And those were mostly done in years in which Nebraska played just 12 games in total. Not up to 14 like they do now.

Nebraska’s string of success during the Devaney/Osborne/Solich years was a remarkable feat contributed to by an array of ingredients — great coaching; high-level recruiting; low coaching staff turnover; a pioneering strength and conditioning program; and a passion-fueled walk-on program like no school has seen before or since.

But one has to wonder how much of “getting the benefit of the doubt” by the national sports media also contributed to Nebraska’s success.

Looking back over Nebraska’s rankings compared to teams with similar records reveals just how far Nebraska has dropped in national prestige over the last 13 years.

Entering the 1970s with back-to-back National Titles, Nebraska saw teams with equal-or-worse records ranked ahead of them eight times in the final AP polls. On the flip side, the Huskers themselves were ranked higher than 51 other teams with the same or better records over the course of that decade.

In the 1980s, that trend continued with Nebraska finishing the seasons of 1980 through 1987 behind only seven teams with identical or worse records, while finishing ahead of 28 with identical or better records.

Then the late-1980s/early-1990s hit the Tom Osborne era. This was that brief tumultuous period in Osborne’s career when the Huskers suffered a string of seven consecutive bowl losses and were regularly torched by the speed demons at Florida State and Miami and saw Colorado leap ahead as the Big 8’s heavy just as Oklahoma had started to slip.

The national perception of Nebraska football from around 1988 through 1992 was that it had become a paper tiger under Osborne. That his teams would always be good for nine to ten wins thanks to a conference slate that wasn’t exactly a murderer’s row of competition.

From 1988 to 1992, Nebraska saw its final AP ranking higher than teams with equal or better records ten times. Not too shabby, right? Fairly respectable, sure. Until you realize that 27 teams over that same five-season span with the same or worse records finished ranked above Nebraska.

The Huskers were no longer getting the benefit of the doubt.

To encapsulate all this data, the eighteen seasons from 1970 through 1987 saw the national media rank the Huskers ahead of all teams with equal or as good of resumes 84% of the time. During Osborne’s “dark period,” that percentage dropped to just 27%.

Let me tell you, an 84% benefit of the doubt ratio is as good as what the SEC Conference enjoys in the same category even today. And, as we all know, that ratio is pretty ridiculous.

The success of the Huskers from 1993 to 2001 catapulted Nebraska’s prestige ratio back up for a good decade run. But, since then, it’s gotten pretty grim.

If you thought 27% was bad…

So far this decade, Nebraska has finished in the AP poll higher than a team with an equal or better record just once. Meanwhile, 17 teams with equal or worse records have landed higher on the final tally than Nebraska. That’s about a 5% benefit of the doubt ratio.

Over Bo Pelini’s entire run in Lincoln, his teams have finished better than five teams with equal or better records while landing lower than 25 teams with equal or worse resumes. A 17% ratio, that bump up from 5% is entirely attributable to Ndamukong Suh.

Now, one might argue, “So what?” You win, people give you the benefit of the doubt. You lose, people don’t. So winning takes care of the problem, right?

The short answer is, yes. But there’s more to it than just that. Let’s take a look at the SEC’s string of seven consecutive BCS Titles.

Before Florida State and Ohio State came along to put a cork in it, SEC Conference honks were wondering out loud — and in all seriousness — whether or not a non-SEC team would ever win a National Title ever again. Outside of a return by Pete Carroll to USC, these blowhards could not imagine a scenario in which the SEC’s BCS Championship streak ended.

As they saw it, every year the SEC Champion was a defacto place-holder for at least one spot in the BCS Championship Game. And, whomever landed in the other spot simply could never be good enough to defeat the SEC Champion (unless that team is another SEC team, ala the 2011 season). Therefore, the string of BCS Champions from the SEC would continue again and again in the same way, forever. Ad infinitum.

Jameis Winston and Florida State became the St. George who slew that dragon. But even then, the SEC supremacists rationalized that it took a program which essentially exits in the heart of SEC territory and amid the fertile SEC recruiting ground to do it. In other words, only a defacto SEC team like Florida State was capable of stealing a title from the SEC trophy corral.

But how did the SEC’s streak happen?

From 2006 to 2012, four different SEC schools produced seven consecutive National Titles. To do that, those schools had to win all seven of the final match-ups, which they did. And the rest of the world should salute that feat.

But the question is, should every single one of those BCS championship games even have had an SEC team playing in them?

In some cases, the answer is yes. In 2010, 2011* and 2012, no non-SEC school had equal or better records than the SEC schools who made the cut. The one caveat for 2011, is that there were two SEC schools in the BCS Championship. 13-0 LSU was the only undefeated team in the country and the only obvious participant that year. But the other SEC team, 11-1 Alabama, had an equal record to three other teams from outside the SEC — Oklahoma State, Stanford and Boise State.

Was Alabama the best team of 2011? Probably. The Crimson Tide soundly defeated LSU in a rematch. The question is, was it fair to block from the BCS Title game three other teams with identical records to Alabama based solely on assumptions? After all, Alabama already had their shot at LSU during the regular season and they lost. Rematches between two evenly matched opponents rarely go well for the team that won the first round. The BCS committee essentially handed Alabama a trophy, despite the Tide’s lack of even a divisional conference crown.

But there’s no guarantee that one of the other 11-1 teams couldn’t have also defeated LSU. Alabama got the benefit of the doubt, much to the distaste of most every fan outside the SEC. And so did most of the other SEC representatives in BCS Title of the last eight years.

Consider the pool from which those teams were selected.

Adding in the 2013 season — when Auburn played in the BCS title game, but lost — a total of 35 football teams had resumes worthy of consideration for a championship berth going back to 2006. Only nine SEC schools were in the mix. But, when it came time for selection, all nine SEC schools were taken along with only seven non-SEC schools, leaving 19 non-SEC football teams on the outside looking in.

That’s nine SEC teams in eight BCS Title games compared to just two for the Big 10, two for the Big 12, one for the Pac 12, one for the ACC and one independent.

Enter the College Football Playoff and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The new playoff system had SEC honks salivating. How many all-SEC championship games would they get to see in the coming years? Could the SEC land three teams in the four-team playoff, instead of what would surely be their usual two? What about all four spots? Could that also be on the menu?

If you think I’m exaggerating, go into the archives of any national college football message board from about two years ago and you will see these scenarios suggested and debated. And without any reticence.

But the launching of the 4-team playoff produced, without question, a national champion that would not have existed were it not for the change in the system. Had the BCS Series method still been in play in 2014, we would have seen a match between 12-1 Alabama and 13-0 Florida State. Based on the results shown in the actual 4-team Playoff, the most likely outcome is that Alabama would have beaten the Seminoles — and re-tracked the SEC National Title-winning locomotive by defeating the very team that derailed it the year before.

Meanwhile, Ohio State, which tore through its three post-season matches like the Mongol Horde ransacking Anatolia, would’ve shown up in some unmemorable BCS Bowl consolation game. Probably against Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Which, if I’m not mistaken, would’ve been something like a 42-20 win for the Buckeyes. Good enough for maybe a third place finish in the final polls.

The Playoffs clearly now make it harder for teams to win Championships with the aid of mere assumptions. That aspect will still come in to play when figuring out who should fill the four playoff spots each year. Without Ohio State’s 59-0 demolition of Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game, the eventual 2014 National Champions would’ve been left out of the tournament in favor of either Baylor or TCU.

Seeing ten SEC schools land in the AP Top 25 for the second poll of the 2015 season clearly illustrates that the Southeastern Conference remains the darlings of the media. Gray area still exits. And that’s why Mike Riley needs to repair Nebraska’s national reputation as soon as possible. A 12-1 season might not be good enough to land Nebraska a playoff spot in this day in age. We’ve seen two dozen teams over the last decade who can attest to what that feels like.

But, beyond worrying about the pinnacle (which Nebraska is in no current contention for), rankings matter. Having a number next to your school’s name determines how much national press the football team gets. How much exposure to potential recruits your program receives. ESPN’s pumping up of SEC schools (never mind the conflict of interest with its TV contract) inflates the value of those teams, who are then ranked higher by the national media, who then receive more attention, who then reel in better recruits, who then win more games, who then get more and more benefit of the doubt.

It must be nice, huh?

Well, once upon a time, that was Nebraska’s luxury, too.

Quick trivia question: Name the only two college football teams to win National Titles in the AP era with two losses on their records.

If you said 1960 Minnesota and 2007 LSU, give yourself a cigar.

But did you know there was almost a third such team?

Indeed. On January 1, 1982, #1 and undefeated Clemson arrived at the Orange Bowl to take on the Big 8 Champion — 9-2 Nebraska, who held a #4 AP ranking. Between them sat #2 Georgia and #3 Alabama. Soon after the Huskers and Tigers kicked off, Bama and the Bulldogs took turns losing in the Cotton and Sugar Bowls, setting the stage for an outright National Title match in Miami.

Clemson jumped out to a 22-7 lead by the end of the third quarter, thanks to a pair of costly Husker fumbles. But, on the legs of Husker legend, Roger Craig, Nebraska mounted a comeback, picking up a 26-yard touchdown run midway through the final period. A two-point conversion put the Huskers within seven with almost eight minutes left on the clock.

Nebraska got two more shots after stuffing Clemson’s subsequent drives, only to see its comeback fall short with a final desperation heave toward the end zone in the waning seconds.

Orange_030_largeBut, had Nebraska completed the comeback, the Huskers would have collected their third National Title with a 10-2 record. A claim Nebraska would’ve had while sitting above a whopping nine teams with equal or better records. Including a would-be 11-1 Clemson.

Yep, getting the benefit of the doubt in college football is no easy task. Especially in today’s SEC-loving world. But, if Riley and crew can build some sustained success over the last half of this decade, well — it’s clearly a benefit worth pursuing.

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Get pumped up Husker Nation — We’re playing Alabama Tonight!

For those of you who like omens when it comes to predicting the outcomes of future football games — how’s this for Nebraska’s impending epic showdown with Alabama on Saturday:

The last time the Crimson Tide came to Lincoln, it was a crisp September day, the second game of the season, Nebraska was 0-1 and unranked in the polls — and it was a year in which a Star Wars movie premiered in theaters.

September 17, 1977.

BAMAbernsRick Berns racked up 128 yards on 23 carries the last time Alabama rolled into Lincoln.

Low and behold, what’s in store for this year’s match up with Bama?

Crisp September day — check! Second game of the season — check! Nebraska is 0-1 and unranked in the polls — check! And Star Wars, Episode Abrams hits theaters this December — check!

What happened when the same ingredients were thrown into the mix back in 1977?

The hapless Huskers took down the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide 31-24 in what was then described as the “most colorful and emotional effort of the Tom Osborne era.” It would be the only time Bear Bryant would be beaten that season.

So, fasten your seat belts and get ready for a little case of history repeating itself. Bama is going DOWN!

Okay, okay… Enough shenanigans. The boys from Tuscaloosa aren’t heading to Lincoln this year or any year currently scheduled. Instead we’re getting a group of guys from Mobile, most of whom would never make the three deep on their in-state blue-blood to the North’s loaded roster.

But is that any reason not to get fired up all the same?

After the heart-attack inducing final second of the BYU game, maybe the tailgaters in downtown Lincoln could use a bit of a relaxer. A situation in which something resembling a football game takes place, but the outcome of the contest is never in doubt.

Enter, the (South) Alabama Jaguars.

Vegas puts Nebraska as a 27-point favorite. I’m thinking, take the Huskers and the points. Riley and company will look to make a statement Saturday night— the rust is gone. The inconsistencies that allowed BYU to own the second quarter (while Nebraska owned pretty much everything else) have been worked out of the system. And you will see a precision machine ready to combine the remainder of the unharvested schedule.

For casual observers of the game, this sort of match-up tends to be boring. My wife asks, “Who wants to watch a fifty-point blowout, anyway?”

The answer, always, is, “Me.”

Several years ago when the Huskers were still in the Big 12, I was watching Nebraska vs. Colorado at the In-Laws’ house. My wife’s stepbrother, Mike, was there. A rabid Husker fan who, for the fun of it, resides in Boulder just on the principal of keeping your enemies closer.

Nebraska, beating the Buffs by three scores late in the game, drove deep into CU territory when they get stopped on a third and short. My wife’s stepbrother leapt into the air and shouted, “God damn it!”

The Huskers kicked a field goal to pad their lead, but Mike was still fuming. He wouldn’t let go of the idea that Nebraska blew a chance to tack on another touchdown.

My wife looked at me, rolling her eyes. I knew what she was thinking — Nebraska’s got the game won. What’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal was something that Mike and I both knew. Nebraska wasn’t merely playing Colorado (who, by this time had been driven by Dan Hawkins to the conference cellar). Nebraska was competing against the hypothetical performances of other upper-tier football teams were they to also play the Buffs. So beating Colorado by three touchdowns isn’t sufficient if you can imagine Ohio State, Alabama, or Oregon beating them by five or six.

This was a concept well established by the time I started following the Huskers in the 1980s. Hammering Utah State 63-13 the second game into the 1988 season wasn’t a mere act of inhospitality. It was a necessity. Because you just knew that if Oklahoma or Florida State were wailing on the Aggies that day, they’d be doing it by at least as much. Utah State was not so much an opponent, but a gauge. A way to judge whether or not the Huskers looked capable of toppling a big dog.

Bill Bryson, the well known travel-writer/humorist once described attending a Husker game as Nebraska leading their outmatched opponent by six touchdowns, while the obnoxious throng in the stands brayed for more.

Bryson obviously doesn’t get it. He comes from a world in which 17-point wins over the likes of Illinois State are no cause for concern. That world is called Iowa.

But, for fans west of the Missouri River, we know better.

When (South) Alabama falls five or six touchdowns behind the Huskers on Saturday, that’s when the collective nerves at Memorial Stadium will first be soothed. Because Alabama will actually be down on the turf, too. Facing off against the Jaguars, superimposed over the Scarlet and Cream.

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Nebraska Will Most Likely Win the 2015 National Championship

cfpchampWarning: This editorial may include sunshine pumping.

After carefully evaluating the upcoming college football season, the most likely outcome I see for Mike Riley’s maiden voyage out on the high Husker seas — is a National Friggin’ Title.

Burdensome expectations for the newly minted captain of Memorial Stadium, you say? A reckless forecast sure to undermine the confidence of a Corvallis crew all too used to Pac-12 participation trophies?

Yeah, well. Whatever.

If you want to rhetorically hold Riley and company’s hands through the tunnel walk on Saturday, start your own damn blog.

Big Red Fury expects Mike Riley to take the helm like the second-coming of Bob Devaney who saw a 200% increase in wins his first year at Nebraska over the previous season.

Granted, for Mike Riley to do the same, he will need to win 27 games in 2015 — a mathematical impossibility, unfortunately. But he can go another route to match the phenomenal improvement Devaney brought with him in 1962. The BobFather produced four fewer losses in his first season than Bill Jennings produced in his last.

As luck would have it, Bo Pelini left Mike with the exact number of losses he would need to match Bob’s improvement. Only this time, should Coach Riley strike the same lightning, it will mean a 15-0 record.

And a National Damn Title.

But, but, but — I can hear the carping now. Bob Devaney didn’t win a National Title in his first year at Nebraska. Bo Pelini didn’t put the ball on a tee with a 3-6-1 out-going record. And the atmosphere is just plain different now. College football of 2015 is a lifetime removed from college football of 1962.

Ix-nay on the ucking-fay excuses-ay. That’s right, I’m bringing Pig Latin to this here itchbe.

So maybe you wonder when was the last time a Division 1 college football team actually went 15-0? After all, the Buckeyes didn’t even do it when they picked up their 14-1 Championship last year.

The answer is Penn University in 1897.

Oh, some teams have come agonizingly close with 14 wins and no losses. Florida State in 2013. Auburn in 2010. Alabama and Boise State in 2009. Ohio State in 2002.

But come four and a half months from now — unless my crystal ball is in need of some Windex — Nebraska will stand shoulder to shoulder with the mighty 1897 Penn Quakers as the only 15-0 Division 1 football teams in the entire history of the sport.

Tall order? Sure. If you say so.

But what if Mike and his Corvallis mechanics stumble up somewhere while pimping out this Big Red Lamborghini they’ve been bestowed?

Like — and I know this is going to sound ridiculous — what if Michigan State comes to town and pulls out an inspired performance, while SIMULTANEOUSLY Nebraska plays a little bit flat?

It’s conceivable then, yeah sure, Sparty might actually sneak out a win while in Lincoln. Crazier things have happened, right?

So then Nebraska gets back on track, blows out Rutgers and Iowa and heads off to Indianapolis 11-1 to face, probably a 12-0 Ohio State.

No worries. We’re in like Flynn.

Nebraska then manhandles the Buckeyes. While Coach Riley goes to waggle Urban Frank Meyer III’s humiliated little grip at midfield, Mark Banker takes Meyer from behind, chucks him to the ground and puts his boot on his trachea.

Just to let him know the new pecking order.

Nebraska then goes on to the playoffs, tosses off some SEC champ like a gamy bit of ground squirrel, then pounds the hapless PAC-12 champ like a Sharknado slamming into the Santa Monica pier. VOILA! 14-1 National Champs, just like those tallywackers from Columbus last year.

Okay. So let’s say Nebraska bowls through its regular season 12-0 (or, at worst 11-1) and then loses (I’m just asking you to humor me here) to Ohio State and is then LEFT OUT of the playoff. Would that then derail Nebraska’s 2015 National Title run?

Absolutely not. And that’s one of the things I love about college football. Titles are subjective. It’s the only sport that has a long history of letting multiple champs stand together on the same gold medal podium in the same year.

Quick — who won the 1970 National Title? Depends on who you ask. A Nebraska fan will say, “Nebraska, of course.” And out the corner of their mouths, they’ll add, “And Texas, I guess.” If you ask a Texas fan the same question, they’ll say, “Texas! And some other team. Nebraska, maybe? Did we even play them that year?”

And the truth is they’re BOTH right. But ask an Ohio State fan, who won the 1970 National Title, they’ll say, “Buckeyes.”

What? The same Ohio State team that went 9-1 and lost 27-17 to Stanford in the Rose Bowl? National Champs over 11-0-1 Nebraska? And 10-1 Texas?

Indeed. Turns out a little organization called the National Football Foundation got all hair-triggered and awarded Ohio State college football’s 1970 crown in the afterglow of the Buckeye’s 20-9 win over 4th ranked Michigan, without bothering to see how things played out in Pasadena.

Nebraska 1970 National Co-Champs Ohio State, Nebraska, and Texas were all somebody’s National Champion in 1970.

What’s remarkable is that this Championship sits just fine with historically attuned Buckeye fans who unabashedly count that year as a notch in their title belt. Likewise, Texas fans are equally cool with their 1970 Title despite that the Longhorns also lost their bowl game (handily by 13 points to Notre Dame). The Coaches Poll was also prone to premature National Title ejaculation back then.

In fact, college football is so over-run with multiple national champions, there are actually 356 claimed titles despite there having only been 146 total seasons. Other sports aren’t quite so communistic. There have been 110 World Series and 110 Major League champions. There have been 94 NFL seasons. 94 NFL Champions. 76 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball seasons. 76 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Champions. 64 NBA seasons. 64 NBA Champions.

You see where this is headed?

So “open-to-interpretation” are college football title claims, some programs have declared themselves champions of particular seasons decades after the fact. Alabama, Notre Dame, and USC are especially adept at retroactive trophy collecting. And some of their hardware requires assertions so outlandish, they’d make Baron Munchausen stand up and scream — LIAR!

So, back to our 2015 scenario. Nebraska beats everybody on the regular season slate. But then they go to Indianapolis and get beat by the Urbhio State Buckmeyers and the playoff selection committee does not ring up Mike Riley’s phone.

Shit out of luck?

No sir!

We simply need to refer to anything after the regular season as an “exhibition game.” As long as Nebraska survives the regular season with no more than 1 loss, what happens in the exhibition portion of the year is irrelevant. Per college football history.

Outside of the 5 seasons in which Nebraska was declared National Champions, my favorite year of college football was 1960. For no other reason than the leeway its sheer lunacy provides in allowing titles to be doled out to just anybody.

As some of you may already know, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were at one time college football juggernaut. This reputation stems largely from Minnesota’s four AP National Titles — including the very first Associated Press Title handed out in 1936.

AP titles are the longest running order of fully recognized “legit” championships and it is a pretty big deal to be awarded one. Even when you include the results of the 1960 football season.

As it turns out, the Associated Press changed their voting system in 1960 as a response to the embarrassment of the previous season in which 200 AP voters split their first place votes among SEVEN different schools. Syracuse was the overall winner in 1959, but Mississippi, LSU, Texas, Georgia, Wisconsin and Alabama all had enough merit to garner at least one media cheerleader in their corner for the final assessment of the season.

By the way, look how showered the SEC was with media love even back in 1959.

Now, to avoid such future logjams of varying opinions, the Associated Press trimmed their voting block down to the ballots of just 48 sports writers for 1960. And it was the first year in which they implemented the weighted vote of 20 points for first place, 19 points for second place, 18 points for third and so on. But still, the final vote would happen at the end of the regular season.

The result was, balls out, the most ridiculous AP champion of all time. The 8-2 Minnesota Gophers.

Minnesota’s AP trophy came after beating just one team with a better than 5-4 record — Iowa, who ended the year 8-1 and ranked #3 but did not compete in any a bowl game because of a Big 10 rule in which conference teams could only play in the Rose Bowl. And, as head-to-head winners, that trip belonged to Minnesota.

After beating Iowa, Minnesota subsequently lost to 4-4-1 Purdue by 9 points. They then beat a sub .500 Wisconsin, standing at 8-1, they picked up their AP National Title trophy and then headed to Pasadena where they were nearly skunked by PAC-8 Champion, Washington, to the tune of 17-7.

When all “exhibition” games were finished for 1960, these following teams all had better records than the Gophers: 11-0 Missouri (finished #5), 11-0 New Mexico State (finished #17), 10-0-1 Mississippi (finished #2), 10-1 Washington (finished #6), 8-1 Iowa (finished #3), 8-1 Rutgers (finished unranked) 9-2 Florida (finished #18), 9-2 Navy (finished #4) and 9-2 Utah State (finished the year unranked).

If the votes were cast after the Bowl games, it would be hard to see ranking Minnesota better than 4th or 5th for that year. The title would have probably gone to either Washington, Missouri or Mississippi.

And yet, the record book still says “Minnesota: 1960 College Football National Champions.”

This is the kind of racket Nebraska can get in on in 2015.

All we need is for Mike Riley to kick off his baptismal Husker season with an 11-1 or 12-0 run. And then have an organization declare a 2015 champion before the conference championship games.

That’s where Big Red Fury comes in.

I propose a new college football award organization. The Big Red Fury Collegiate Gridiron Association or: BRFCGA. This organization will be a panel of any such people willing to vote in a college football champion at the conclusion of the regular season — and unwilling to consider any team for the top spot not named Nebraska.

The panel will consist of the three members of Big Red Fury plus Jason Peter, Tommy Lee and Larry the Cable Guy.

Peter Lee Cable GuyThe greatest power trio Nebraska has ever known.

Jason and Larry will, no doubt, be in the tank for the Huskers. Heck, we may even get a #1 vote from Larry with three losses. Who knows? Tommy may take some cajoling to avoid throwing his vote away on somebody like San Jose State or Wake Forest. We just need to remind him that Dear Old Nebraska U is his alma mater for the three-week stint he had in Lincoln back in 2005. It’s quite possible that he doesn’t remember that far back, but showing him pictures of himself decked out in drumline gear ought to trigger some kind of cogitation.

As for the three Big Red Fury voters, at least one of us will be on board from the opening kick-off. The rest is up to Mike Riley’s orchestration.

So, sit back. Enjoy Nebraska’s 2015 National Championship run and give a little toast to the 1960 Gophers. Thanks to their precedent, we’ve got this thing in the bag.

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EXCLUSIVE: USC Staffer Hopes Trojans Beat Huskers

Greetings from the Waffle House clogged bowels of SEC country!

While we’re traveling cross-country on Christmas Eve, we stumbled across an incredible scoop. A scoop that none of the mainstream media was even close to sniffing out because: A) it was 8am and B) none of them were posted up at LAX.

Are you ready for it? Make sure you’re sitting down before you read any further because this scoop is bulldozer sized:

On our flight from LAX –> ATL were staff members from USC and Alabama.

Here’s how it played out in real-time two days ago:

In LA, you’d never see anyone dressed head to toe in team gear all the way down to embroidered roller bags unless they were affiliated with said team. Gotta give ‘Bama guy bonus points for going Southern Preppy with a cardigan over this Crimson Tide t-shirt. Outside of the South, Southern Preppy = metro sexual and is a bold choice.

Neither our pals Dirk or Sean offered any tips.

Here’s Tee and Marques along with a stonewashed Peyton Manning.
Peyton Manning Tee Martin Marques Tuiasasopo
If you recall, both Tee and Marques know what it’s like to get shellacked by the Cornhuskers.

Note how intently USC guy is reading his new Sports Illustrated with cover boy Marcus Mariota.

Here’s the transcript of our chat:
BRF: You guys feeling good about the Holiday Bowl?
USC GUY: Yeah.
BRF: Think you can beat Nebraska?
USC GUY: Hope so!
BRF: Good luck!

Also, it’s cute that USC guy and ‘Bama guy got to sit together. While it may seem odd, if you’ve ever seen college coaches in airports, they tend to roam in packs.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for more exclusives and other semi-witty banter and observations.

RANDOM CHRISTMAS DINNER OBSERVATIONS: With in-laws from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia at the dinner table, the consensus was that Nebraska was crazy to a consistent nine win coach even with his history of “transgressions.”

On the flip side, they all thought it was hilarious that Barney Cotton was given the reins for the Holiday Bowl. Of course the hilariousness only kicked in after we explained Barney’s status among the Husker fan base.

They really got a kick out of this video:

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

RANDY GREGORY'S CHRISTMAS CARD
Randy Gregory’s Christmas card.

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Bye Week: Basking in the Doom and Gloom of Other Fans

You know what’s awesome?

I just did a Google Image search for sad Michigan State fans and the Google machine spit back of a treasure trove of sad Michigan fans. Apparently, sad Michigan State fans are nowhere to be found on the internet.

This photo though is priceless.

ku-bigpic-560x546
Was this poor Wolverine’s left eye already bloody or has the pepper spray caused him to cry tears of blood?

With the Huskers enjoying an unprecedented second bye week, today is a great day to sit back, relax and enjoy watching other fans’ seasons come to a screeching and catastrophic halt.

With  our local Husker watch site also being home to an Ohio State alumni group, I’m very tempted to go watch their big showdown with the Spartans just so I can watch a dear Ohio friend possibly have a meltdown. I know it’s not exactly “classy,” but you can rest easy knowing she’d do the same for me.

While Los Angeles is far, far away from being a college football town, all of us idiots who moved here have helped turn every sports bar into a United Nations of college football. Walk into any place on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see groups of fans from at least a dozen different schools huddled around their respective TVs. It really makes for a great scene.

And like Survivor, unexpected allegiances will form.

When Michigan lost their season opener Appalachian State at home way back in 2007, everyone in the bar who wasn’t maize and blue stopped what they were doing to watch Michigan’s last second field goal attempt get blocked.

Never has there been such joy in the anguish of others.

Then again, 2007 was such a dark time for Husker Nation that fans actually stopped watching games in public. On that day against Nevada, there were exactly four of us in red squinting at a 12 inch TV bolted to the ceiling at an bad angle. When your team is Bill Callahan bad, you get banished to the little TV.

By 2009, our in-public attendance had improved but we were still dwarfed by the highly organized LA chapter of the Texas Exes during the Mack wants another second put back on the clock game. Our numbers were bolstered late in the game by Alabama fans who stayed around after their game ended just to help root against fucking Texas.

The all-time best though was the Huskers’ comeback against Wisconsin in 2012. Early in the second half, a dozen or so Ohio State fans sauntered upstairs to our “private” room at our watch site. Without even acknowledging the odd looks they were getting, they grabbed seats wherever they could. A trio sat down at our table and promptly ordered shots of Fireball Whiskey for the table.

“Hi, we’re here to cheer for you guys just so you’ll be ranked higher when we beat you next week. ”

And that was that. For the rest of the game, they cheered on Huskers and marveled at the “Go Big Red” chant.

To their drunken ears, it sounded like Sloth yelling “Heeeey Yooouuu Guuuys” which is exactly what they shouted when a Go Big Red faded out.

Gotta love college football.

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The Magnolia State unleashes an invasive species upon the world of college football.

There they were. One week ago Mississippi State and Ole Miss were the toast of every college football fan outside Tuscaloosa and College Station.countryfied

But now, with this pair of kissing cousin SEC schools sitting atop the national polls — each taking out yet another establishment program in double hoedown throwdowns — college football fandom is now wondering, “How do we get rid of these guys?”

A look at schedules does not bode well for those hoping the Bulldogs and Rebs get tripped up somewhere in the regular season before a showdown between the two of them inevitably ends the undefeated hopes for one.

Ole Miss has Auburn and (maybe) a road trip to LSU to worry about before hosting the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State has Alabama. And that’s it.

Sure, Auburn and Alabama are as good as anybody to pin your hopes on ending this Magnolia State scourge. But Auburn just got hammered by the Bulldogs. They probably won’t fare any better against the Rebs. Alabama, fresh off its loss to Ole Miss, looked like crap against an Arkansas team still in the process of rebuilding.

With just 227 total yards and 14 points against the Razorbacks, Bama fans may be discovering why Lane Kiffin keeps getting fired everywhere he goes.

Could one of the Mississippi schools become the fifth team to bring a national title to the SEC so far this century?

God let’s hope not.

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What games to watch on a Husker-free weekend

The Huskers will be enjoying a weekend off (aka Nebraska’s fall wedding weekend) so that means there’s an absolutely golden opportunity to revel in the misery of others without the risk of having to join all the other losers in to the cesspool of defeat.

Before you spend an entire Saturday on the couch watching strange teams easily making all the plays the Huskers can never seem to make, we can’t stress enough the need to make an appearance with wife and kids (if applicable) and make a noticeable dent (no matter how small) in household duties that have gone neglected since August 30th.

Pick a game or two and enjoy a stress free-weekend.

Georgia at Missouri
11am (all times listed at Runza Time)
CBS

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After their Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley was suspended due to being ratted out by a jilted autograph dealer, the Bulldogs turn to true freshman Nick Chubb (best name for an unproven backup ever) to lead the ground attack. And Missouri has… wait… who really cares about anything Missouri does? Root for Georgia in this one.

Texas vs Oklahoma
11am
ABC/ESPN3

Beat-Texas

The Sooners travel to Dallas for their annual Red River Rivalry showdown with Texas. The game has always been a little off-putting in the sense that it’s like your favorite cousin going to a big invite only blow out party with the half of his family you’re not related to. Once you get over the FOMO, sit back, relax and watch that favorite cousin do the Lord’s work by kicking the crap out of the Longhorns.

Oregon at UCLA
2:30pm
FOX

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OK. This one hurts. It’s like being back in time eight weeks before the events in Sixteen Candles take place. You’re Samantha sitting at the geek table in the cafeteria watching a hunky blond version of Jake Ryan having a sweet and playful tickle fight with his longtime girlfriend Caroline (bet you didn’t know that was her name). For some sects of Husker Nation, the day Oregon goes Ice Princess on Scott Frost can’t come soon enough for Nebraska would welcome him back with open and loving arms. Then again, that’s what was promised for Bo Pelini. And if we remember correctly, Husker Nation didn’t react to kindly to a guy who originally chose Stanford over Nebraska’s finest land grant institution. Even without factoring in what UCLA did to Nebraska the last two seasons, you want Oregon to win this game just to keep Michigan State’s strength of schedule up. All the better if they can do it with Marcus Mariota having a sub par day. And on a final note, any college that plays 25 miles (a two hour drive in LA) off-campus can suck it.

Alabama at Arkansas
5:00pm
ESPN

Alabama-Fan-Tattoo

The only attractive part of this game is Bret Bielema’s wife and she’s bat shit crazy. Cheer for neither team but hope Alabama loses in a gruesome manner so that everyone is happy and little angels get their wings.

Mississippi at Texas A&M
8pm
ESPN

FLAG

You want Ole’ Miss to lose to ensure playoff chaos and I want them to lose because I’m still bitter about wasting two hours of my life watching The Blindside. Note to aspiring actresses: If you ever want to win an Oscar, simply do your best Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich impression. It worked for Sandy. Just don’t invite your cheating-with-a-white-supremacist-stripper biker husband to the ceremony. And seriously, fuck any team that can make Texas A&M’s militarized fraternity scene look almost sane and rational.

USC at Arizona
9pm
ESPN2

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The Wildcats are enjoying their best season since 1994 when they were named Sports Illustrated’s preseason number one and a U of A sweater warmed the terrified shoulders of Sandra Bullock in Speed. Cheer for Arizona in this one. For another Wildcats win will add to the suffering of Michigan fans and add to the dysfunctional chaos that is USC’s football program. And not to worry, Zona will have plenty more chances to derail their so far perfect run.

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