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Ranking All Seven Husker Losses

In a rather stunning turn of events, Mike Riley’s first season season as a Husker was one for the ages, in that he led Nebraska to their worst season since 1961.

Seven soul crushing and mind boggling losses. Each and every one a special and unique snowflake of misery.  Being the gluttons for punishment that we are, we took a whack at ranking the losses from least worst, all the way down to worst, worst.

It was far from an easy task, especially losses 5 through 3, but like a YOLO Bomb to the end zone, we took our best shot.

7) Miami 36 – Nebraska 33: We opened our recap of the game like this- “Holy schnikes. Who would have predicted that Mike Riley era would have spiraled into high drama just three games into his first season?”

Boy, did that ever become a prophetic question. If we only knew just how far down into the abyss the drama would spiral. Of the Huskers’ seven losses, this was the only one that didn’t leave fans feeling like they ate a turd filled Runza (and maybe even a little hopeful about the future). After three quarters of playing like choads on both sides of the ball, the Huskers rallied from being down 23 points in the 4th to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately, a Tommy Armstrong interception and an Alex Lewis personal foul on the Huskers’ very first play all but sealed the win for the Hurricanes.

While some of the luster was taken off this loss as Miami went on to play horrible enough to finally get Al Golden fired, the Hurricanes pulled it together to finish their regular season 8-4. Way to not stop believin’, Caneshades. Enjoy your earned bowl game.

Sad Alex Lewis
Alex Lewis stews on his first headline grabbing bad decision of the season.

6) BYU 33 – Nebraska 28: Hard to believe the Huskers’ most shocking loss of the season could be so far down the list but with the Huskers finding all kinds of insane ways to snatch last second defeat from the jaws of victory, losing on a Hail Mary thrown by a red shirt freshman QB playing in his first game becomes rather trite in the grand scheme of things.

It did help Husker morale that BYU pulled off the same miracle a week later against Boise State.  Plus, with it being Nebraska’s first game of the season with a new coaching staff and new playbooks, this last second loss could be chalked up as a total fluke, right?

BYU HAIL MARY
Hey coach, do you think we should get that Hail Mary defense installed before the season opener? Nah. What are the chances?

5) Northwestern 30 – Nebraska 28:  Fresh off the heels of the Huskers’ convincing win at Minnesota, this loss was just stupefying. The Bankshirts™ were repeatedly scorched on the ground by a QB who ran slower than T-Magic with cinder block shoes and the offense held the ball for nearly 19 minutes longer, yet Northwestern was able to chew the final four minutes off the clock and kneel their way to victory thanks to a last minute unsportsmanlike penalty from Maliek Collins. Of all the Husker losses this season, Northwestern was the most coldly anti-climactic.

Clayton ThorsonNorthwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson rushed 9 times for 126 yards. With one game remaining in his season, his average per game rushing yardage is a robust 33.36.

4) Illinois 14 – Nebraska 13: Up until yesterday’s attempted touchdown pass on 4th and 1, the decision to throw on 3rd and 7 from the Illinois 27 yard line while up 13-7 with under a minute to play was the dumbest play of the Huskers’ season. As many an armchair quarterback pointed out, Tommy could have literally ran out the clock had he taken the snap and started running the wrong way like a Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and taken a safety. Instead, he threw a pass at Devine Ozigbo’s feet. On 4th down, the Huskers tried passing one more time for good measure instead of attempting a field goal that would have put them up by two scores. Then again, finally deciding not to put the ball up into a swirling wind was probably the first good decision of the day. If you haven’t blocked this game from your memory, you may recall Tommy going 10 – 31 from 105 yards through the air.

After getting the ball back, it took Illinois all of two plays to go 65 yards to the Nebraska 7. From there, they proceeded to get five tries to score thanks to a pair of pass interference penalties on the Huskers.

If there’s room in the budget to pay a useless special teams coach nearly half a million dollars, surely enough change can be shook out of the athletic department couches to afford a stat minded egg head to provide an outside-the-box perspective in crucial situations. Heck, you’d probably even find some know-it-all bloggers who’d pay to have such a position.

nebraska illinois 2015Give a team enough chances to score and they will eventually find a way, even Illinois.

3) Wisconsin 23 – Nebraska 21: From Andy Janovich’s career defining 55 yard touchdown run to the north end zone goal post being the best defender on the field, everything finally seemed to be going the Huskers’ way- until Wisconsin got the ball back on their own 30 with 1:03 left to play.

Even with no timeouts, that was plenty of time for Joel “I’ll Never Graduate” Stave to slice through the Bankshirts™ and get the Badgers into field goal range and give Robert “I’ve Never Met a Pizza I Didn’t Like” Gaglianone a shot at redemption.  The amount of game clock that elapsed between his missed field goal and his game winner was 1:22. In that span, the Huskers also ran the ball straight up the gut three times for a grand total of five yards. Getting just a single first down would have salted the game away for Nebraska.

Robert Gaglianone
Wisconsin Kicker Robert Gaglianone breaks the hearts of Husker Nation while day dreaming about sweet, delicious ham. 

2) Iowa 28 – Nebraska 20:  This was by far the Huskers’ most definitive loss of the season. All the elements that plagued the six previous defeats were present and accounted for: erratic quarterback play, a running game that couldn’t make up its mind, key players who seemingly fell off the roster, head scratching play calling, dumb penalties, a defense with a knack for getting lit up at the absolutely worst times, and, despite all that, the game was still perfectly winnable.

While Iowa and their dozen or so fans have every reason to gloat about being 12-0, the Hawkeyes are such an unimpressive undefeated team they make the 2012 Notre Dame squad (remember them getting demolished by Alabama in the BCS Championship game?) look like the second coming of the Four Horsemen. The Huskers will never have an easier opportunity to beat a “top 5” team and they blew it.

Iowa Nebraska 2015
That trophy (whatever it’s called) is going to look awfully nice in the team trailer. Congrats, Iowa.

1)  Purdue 55 – Nebraska 45: Can you believe the Huskers’ ONLY double digit loss of the season came at the hand of a Boilermaker squad that’s currently boasting a 2-9 record heading into their annual showdown against Indiana? Since 2013, Purdue has notched exactly one other win in the Big Ten.

This was one of just four games of the season where Tommy Armstrong didn’t throw a single interception thanks to being injured and watching back home in Lincoln. In his place, Ryker Fyfe honored  him by throwing four picks along with 400 yards passing and a quartet of TDs in his first career start. This was a game where a present day Matt Turman could have showed up at kickoff and led the Huskers to a win. Instead, the Big Red put up their most baffling loss since falling 9-7 against Iowa State in 2009.

nebraska-purdue
Ryker Fyfe is about to get his uniform dirty for the first time in his Husker career.

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Why the Huskers’ Loss Can Be a Good Thing

I love winning. It’s like better than losing. You know what I’m sayin?
– Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh.

Half a week later, the sting of the BYU’s Hail Mary (or Hail Joseph Smith) still reverberates down the spine of any Husker fan. It is a loss that can’t be forgotten soon enough but it’s one that won’t be.

The last time the Huskers dropped a season opener at home, most of the team was still a good ten years away from being born. And if you want to feel even older, many of the player’s parents were still kids themselves  back in 1985.

Exactly 60 minutes into the first game of the Mike Riley era, one of the two last great Husker streaks was broken so quickly that it didn’t seem at all real.

BYU’s final dagger from 42 yards out was like in a Kung Fu movie when someone is killed so quickly they don’t realize they’re dead. It was Hanzo Sword straight through the heart of the Big Red faithful.

At our watch site, hope lasted until the replays confirmed everyone’s most unthinkable fear. Instantly, our spirits plummeted faster than Wile E. Coyote once he looks down and realizes he stepped off a cliff.

After a game that bordered on perfection (as much as a season opener with a new staff and scheme could be perfect ) for 59:59, that final second reality check may be just what the Huskers needed in order to make this season a success.

Don’t consider the gut punch from the football gods a cosmic smiting of all that is considered holy with Husker Nation. Yes, winning 30 consecutive home openers would have been a nice notch in the belt but how many of those victories were anything more than a pack of wolves feasting on lambs?

The role reversal of the hunter becoming the hunted can be a great motivator for the team and staff. While it’d be great to see the Huskers march into Miami with a bounce in their step and a perfect record, a chip on their collective shoulders and gravel in their guts and spit in their eyes can be what carries this team through the entire season.

These guys are all now coldly aware that they can be beaten at any time and how they respond to that will shape how the season plays out.

Make sure you’re buckled up tight. There’s only one game down and at least 11 more to go. It’s going to be a heck of a ride no matter what.

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View from the Boneyard: BYU

I’m always so amazed how waking up on a Husker game day at 8am is almost effortless, especially considering how difficult it is for me to roll out of bed to get to my 12:30 classes half of the time.

Our casual group of five arrived at the stadium just before 11am (after eating copious amounts of french toast made by yours truly), but five soon grew to over 15 as we realized how many seats we needed to save in the front of East Stadium.

After so many years of going to the games early, you start to recognize the reoccurring people who arrive hours before kickoff. Walking up to East Stadium, you’re greeted by students in fun costumes, students playing catch with a football, and The Iron N’s football sport directors telling you to “do the Westerstache.”

westerstache
The Iron N football sport directors (minus Allison Redwine) telling fans to “do the Westerstache.”

Hours of waiting outside of the doors in the unbearable heat were made easier thanks to Zesto’s bringing ice cream for everyone. Seriously—you’re the real MVP.

The cries of “3, 2, 1” echoed outside as students in South Stadium got ready to “walk” up the ramps to their seats. Ever since my freshman year, students have been threatened by security to walk—not run—to their section since students kept running into the large concrete pillars in the past. Personally, I say let natural selection take its course, but that’s just me.

eaststadium
Not even Abraham Lincoln could persuade the powers that be to open the East Stadium doors just a little early. 

There are few things on game day more frustrating than waiting to be let in to East Stadium after South has already been let in, especially since watching the chaos of getting to the front row is one of my favorite parts of game day.

It’s a lot like watching the Hunger Games, honestly. Every man (or woman) for themselves as people push, yell, and weave through other students in the bloodbath to get down to the front rows. May the odds be ever in your favor.

This year was the first year that I hadn’t been worried about getting to our spot in time. It’s kind of comforting knowing that roughly 15 people waiting in line with you are all trying to save spots for the same group.

Hayley Archer Boneyard
Front row seats secured!

The Boneyard was entertained before the game by its new official DJ Phipp Phippa, who was able to get students to go down to the field to dance, as well as get everyone involved in some new Husker chants.

Despite having the DJ, two and a half hours of waiting inside of the stadium can start to drag on. Students passed the time by meeting new students, reuniting with old friends, and even getting Sam Foltz’s attention with a “Foltz 4 Heisman” poster.

The real excitement kicked in once the pregame festivities began. This year was the first year that I was actually a part of the Go Big Red banner in East Stadium. No one warned me how easy it is to get completely engulfed in it as it comes back down, though. Rookie mistake.

tifoStudents in South Stadium bring the Boneyard tifo to life.

Everyone in the section seemed to be showing off the goosebumps as the Tunnel Walk happened, and I stood there shaking like one of those little lap dogs that had just been asked if they wanted to go for a walk.

BYU’s team ran out on the field and was soon greeted by a chorus of boo’s from the South Stadium students. East Stadium was quick to call out the freshmen and sophomores on their etiquette, though. If we’re going to take Minnesota’s motto and make it our own by saying “Nebraska nice,” we better live up to that. Granted, I went the entire week saying “more like BY-Eww am I right?” but I’m pretty sure the only offensive part of that statement is how horribly stupid it is. Much like most of my jokes.

BYUfield
After months of waiting, the Huskers are moments away from return to action.

Can You Feel It blasted through the stadium as The Iron N’s newest project was displayed. I can say from experience that a lot of hard work was put in to that project, especially after spending countless hours painting and trying to tell as many people there about this exact article that I’m writing. So yeah, hey guys. (I told them I’d give them a shout out to get them to read this.) (Editor’s note: This is a brilliant move, always.)

The game began and everything seemed right again in Husker Nation. Shoes were raised during the kick off and I managed to only almost fall off of the bench while dancing twice, so there was definitely progress from previous years. Seriously, those benches are narrow.

It was weird though to be at my first Husker game without my partner-in-crime, my former roommate and now Husker marketing intern best friend. Thankfully that void was filled during the second quarter when she was finally done working.

With the first touchdown of the season scored by Westerkamp (#DoTheWesterstache),  everyone was relieved to finally be able to release their red balloons into the sky without having to worry about accidentally releasing it prematurely and facing the judgement of their peers.
Memorial Stadium Balloons
Balloons were let loose following Jordan Westerkamp’s jaw dropping touchdown catch. What a way to start the season.

There seemed to be a serious disinterest from many fans during the second quarter, in which the Huskers were unable to put any points on the board while BYU got two touchdowns and a field goal.

The attitude changed with an injury to Sam Foltz, causing fans to jump out of their seats screaming at officials. With that occurring during the only time that I had left the student section, I realized that I had probably jinxed everything and that I should never leave the Boneyard during a game again.

The new energy seemed to fuel the Huskers as they kept BYU scoreless in the third, especially after an interception by Nate Gerry. Some of the energy was lost in transition to the fourth quarter, where most people blamed the oddly quiet pump up music being played over the sound system.

Honestly, I was thinking about how the Huskers had the game in the bag during last few minutes of play. But when 15 seconds started ticking down, you could see the looks of fear in Husker fans as the clock stopped with one second remaining. The dreaded one second.

Soon after students were greeted by a celebrating BYU coach making his victory lap around the field. No one left the section for multiple minutes after the end of the game from pure shock. I guess this is how Northwestern felt not too long ago.

In my opinion, we probably jinxed ourselves by not keeping up with the greatest Husker tradition of all time: Valentino’s Slice of Life. But that’s just me.

But as the random passerby said after the game, “if we can make it through Callahan, we can make it through anything.”

Hayley Archer is a senior Broadcasting major at UNL. Follow her on Twitter at @Harchinator.

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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: BYU Edition

Welcome to our first edition of Sunday Morning Hot Takes where we’ll be delivering a fresh, steaming pile of hot takes following every Husker game.

So… how ’bout that BYU game?

If you’re reading this, congratulations on making it through the night to see another sunrise. I haven’t yet ventured outside but I’ll go out on a limb and say that the sun has kept its 4.5 billion year streak of being where it’s supposed to be going for a least one more day.

Granted, that final second of regulation ended with as much shock and horror as seeing an animal shelter get napalmed but we can get through this Husker Nation.

It’s a long season. There will be peaks. There will valleys. And there’s a pretty damn good chance that 90,000 fans will not get their hearts ripped out on the final play of a game at Memorial Stadium for a long, long time. (Or at least a few weeks.)

Mola Ram BYU
Who knew Mola Ram was a BYU fan?

Before we dive into the hot takes, we must first drop the worst humble brag ever. In our interview with former BYU linebacker Austen Jorgensen, there was a little nugget where he absolutely nailed the outcome of the game.

Austen Jorgensen Prediction

ON WITH THE HOT TAKES!

Mike Riley: Two things are clearly apparent: 1) He does not rattle under pressure and he certainly had his fair share on Saturday. One can only imagine he keeps a screaming chamber in his basement.

MeditationChamber-ESB
A visualization of Mike Riley’s top secret screaming chamber.

2) Even at 62-years-old, his heart his clearly in tip top shape. Yes, he slumped over when the refs signaled touchdown but he walked off the field under his own power. Even as cold blooded as he is, Bill Snyder would not have survived that ending.

Coach Riley’s calmness must be contagious because it even carried over to Husker Twitter. These tweets were from when things weren’t exactly going right.

Behold the calmness and rational thoughts!

Tommy Armstrong: Holy crap did he look sharp. Yes, he had a few low points (and one crazy pass that gave Husker Nation a T-Magic flashback) but overall he clearly bought into what Danny Langsdorf is selling. Our DVR mercifully stopped recording with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter but his pass to Brandon Reilly the final time the Huskers had the ball was a sight to behold and his best pass of the game. He put the ball exactly where it needed to go. Tommy just needs to remember he has a pretty fast set of wheels underneath him and be a little quicker when it comes to deciding to tuck the ball and run.

Danny Langsdorf: Hey man, the Huskers are kind of known for running the ball. Maybe you could add some more of those plays next week? And that number 32, he’s kind of a beast. Maybe call his number a few more times. Oh, but it was really cool when you mixed up some of the old stuff following Nate Gerry’s interception. Do more of that and Husker fans will love you long time.

Jordan Westerkamp:  Another season opener. Another jaw dropping catch. Say what you will about Adidas, but they at least know how to make a jersey that stays in one piece.

Jordan Westerkamp Catch
The Huskers got their first points on this season on this nice little stretch play. Please, tip your server.

Mark Banker’s Defense: Every time I started writing a stupid tweet (note to self: you can save drafts) that said Mark Banker was an anagram for Kevin Cosgrove, the Blackshirts adjusted and got a stop. They’ll figure out how to stop a Hail Mary eventually. 

Sam Foltz: Best wishes to Thunder Leg for speedy recovery. It was really great to see the Huskers pay tribute to him by not punting and scoring a bunch of points instead for a while there in the second half but how about Tyson Broekemeier stepping up huge when the Huskers truly needed to punt?

Tanner Mangum Granted, he’s a freshman who graduated high school in 2012 but he’s still a freshman playing in his very first game. On the road. At Nebraska. And he walked off Tom Osborne field swinging the biggest pair of stones of the day. Hopefully the BYU equipment team will get him a helmet that fits now that he’s officially a legendary quarterback and switch the letters on his jersey so that his last name magically becomes Magnum. If you’re gonna have eyebrows that look like a pair of Tom Selleck mustaches you might as well play the part. Plus, how sweet would it be if he took the field to the theme from Magnum?

TANNER MAGNUM
Tanner Mangum is 6’3″ but stands 5’3” with the over-sized helmet.

KEEPING IT CLASSY: Thanks to our handy guide to drinkin’ in Lincoln for BYU fans blowing up on BYU Twitter earlier this week, we sort of became unofficial ambassadors of Husker Nation. We’re thrilled to see that Husker fans were living up to their reputation. Good job, everyone.

BYU TWEETS

FINAL NUMBERS:

17: The number of are you still alive? text messages I received from various family and friends in the minutes and hours that followed the game.

6: Points left off the board by missed field goals. Drew Brown will get it back on track. Maybe it’s not too late to get Alex Henery on-board as a volunteer coach?

0: Number of concerned texts I received from my otherwise lovely wife. When I told her about the heartbreaking outcome, she chuckled before saying, “Wait, I thought they always played a high school team so would always won their first game? Did they lose to a high school team?”  She grew up an LSU fan, btw.

38 – 24: Our score prediction as modeled by one of Hollywood Blvd’s Spider-Men. With the Blackshirts holding and the offense rolling, this prediction was lining up to come true.

Spider-man Hollywood Blvd

STUFF THAT’S NEITHER A NUMBER OR A HOT TAKE:

Unsung Hero of the Day: My KMASHI battery. While it may not be as sleek and slender as a ridiculously overpriced Mophie, it’s built like an offensive lineman and will take your mobile device from zero back up to full power many times over on a single charge. I can’t remember the last I even charged the thing but even with one bar it charged my phone twice yesterday. Plus, it has 2 USB ports so you can help out a friend in need. Best $13.99 you can spend.

Hilarious Twitter account you need to follow (especially if you’re also a soccer fan): Throwball for Brits.

Finally, the award for Most Click-Baity Headline of the Day goes to the otherwise rock solid Hail Varsity crew.

The “featured” tweets belong to Faux Pelini, the Huskers, Hunter Radenslaben, Sam McKewon, the Huskers, Dewayne Wade, Tim Miles, Todd McShane, and Ron Kellogg.

I’m sure they’re all thrilled and flattered to see their tweets in virtual print. Next time, try to feature more people like Hunter. Might help your engagement.

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