Tag Archives: college football

Ten Questions with UCF Fan @AustinHeff

Welcome to the greatest weekend of the season, Husker fans.

It’s bye week!

There’s not even a chance the Huskers are going to lose another game.

And because we all need a second favorite team to root for so we can have a reason to avoid mowing the lawn for another week, I interviewed Austin Heffernan, a die hard UCF fan to get the scoop on the Knights football program and their currently undefeated season thanks in no small part to their upstart coach Scott Frost. (You may have heard of him.)

Speaking of Scott, I met Austin on Twitter the day he was hired away from Oregon. Somehow, we found each other’s tweets and traded some thoughts about Scott. (There’s a good chance I told him to make sure UCF takes good care of Nebraska’s next head coach. )

Anyway, Austin is a huge UCF fan and cheers for his other local teams in Florida. He’s the kind of ride or die sports fan any team would be proud to have. He was nice enough to answer all my dumb questions with some valuable insight about the Knights so you’ll enjoy watching UCF (and Scott Frost) take on Navy Saturday afternoon.

1. Along with being a UCF fan long before the Knights cracked the top 25, you’re a fan of your local teams across the sports spectrum which is something of a rarity these days as sports fans aren’t as tied to geography as they were before. As background, how would you describe your fandom and what it’s like to be such a dedicated fan of Florida teams? (For the record, I was pulling for the Marlins when they went on their late summer run.)

Austin: Growing up in Miami was really fun. In my younger elementary school days, I was blessed with nationally dominant Miami Hurricanes teams that set the city on fire.  [Ed note: Husker fans remember the that 2001 team. Too bad you’re too young to have missed those 80s teams.] Rumor has it that those Hurricanes players from the early 2000s were skipping Dolphins players in the club. We then had the Marlins make their run in 2003 and the Heat in 2006 and also again in 2012/2013. Miami definitely has the most diverse sports fan base in terms of ethnic backgrounds. The best picture I can paint of Miami sports fandom is pots and pans in musical rhythmic unison while celebrating.

Since I moved to Orlando, I’ve been a part of the soccer movement and have attended a handful of Orlando City Soccer games. We have the 2nd highest attendance in the MLS despite not having made the playoffs in the 3 years we’ve been in the MLS. That has been a fun experience and celebrating a scored goal is unlike anything I’ve been a part of as a sports fan.

2. Florida certainly has its share of college football teams. What was it that made you pick UCF, or did the Knights pick you?

Austin: I decided to not attend an American school and I got into a school in Rome, Italy at the last minute. UCF still had open rolling applications and decided to roll with them instead. I was still rooting for the Canes up until the 3rd home game of my freshman year, where we beat Boston College by 40+ points. We ended up winning the C-USA championship that year and that season cemented my passion for the University and all of their sports teams.

3. In 2013, UCF went 12-1 and ended their season by beating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and finishing in the AP Top 10. Then in 2014 they when 9-4 and followed that up with an 0-12 season in 2015. Last year Scott Frost got things turned around and the Knights posted a 6-7 record. Now, they’re 5-0 and ranking in the top 20. What’s this roller coaster ride been like for you and how does it to have been on it the whole time?

Austin: The 12-1 year, or as we call it, “the dream season,” was my senior year at UCF. That year was so incredible and the campus was electric all the time. If you would’ve told me before I went to UCF that we would win a BCS game while I was there, I would’ve recommended you take me to the local mental hospital called Lakeside. The following year we won the AAC again but it took some miraculous plays, including the miracle we needed to clinch a share of the conference championship.

And then we hit rock bottom. Our head football coach at the time, George O’Leary, was acting as the school athletic director at the time. His attention wasn’t fully set on the team, and the team suffered mightily. Following that year, the Lincoln Legend himself, Scott Frost, made his way to UCF. Since we hired Frost, the football team’s confidence appeared to have instantly jumped to the ceiling. Since then, I’ve had no complaints and have been following along for this fantastic ride that I never want to end.

4. Two things Nebraska fans take a lot of pride in are a sellout streak that’s been going since 1962 and having a reputation as being the “greatest fans in college football.” How would you describe the UCF fanbase? Are there a lot of dedicated, hardcore fans like you, or is the bulk of the fanbase more casual?  And how has the the momentum and energy been this season? Is the bandwagon running out of room?

Austin: The fan base is really young. The school opened up in 1963 so our alumni base isn’t as strong as most other schools. Orlando is mostly a Gator town, which makes it tough to get local non-students and non-alumni into the stadium. Last year, following a winless season, I was surprised at how many people were in the stands at all the home games. It made me proud to be a Knight fan to see everyone screaming at the top of their lungs despite the product the team produced the year prior. [Ed note: Just like Nebraska!]

5. 
The UCF program started out as a Division III team in 1979 and steadily worked its way up to Division !. What are some traditions, both for the program and during games, that the rest of the world should know about? 

Austin: My favorite tradition is Spirit Splash. Every Friday of homecoming week, students gather around the fountain called the Reflecting Pond in the middle of campus and there’s a pep rally of sorts. Then a countdown starts, and all the students gathered around the Reflecting Pond run into it. A video will explain it better than I can.

6. What’s a game day like at Spectrum Stadium? How would you describe the atmosphere? And I gotta know, how did Zombie Nation’s song Kernkraft 400 become an anthem?

Austin: Tailgating at UCF is my favorite hobby. The whole campus is wet and you can bring an open container anywhere, so it makes for a great atmosphere.  I actually have no idea how Kernkraft 400  became our pre-kickoff anthem but I just found myself joining in my freshman year back in 2010.

 7. A lot of Nebraska fans will probably be spending their Husker free Saturday watching UCF take on Navy. What should they know about the Knights’ offense and defense in terms of attitude and identity and who are some of the key playmakers they should keep an eye on? 


Austin:
McKenzie Milton, our quarterback, has progressed in a way that I didn’t think was possible. He has brought life to the passing game, so I would definitely keep an eye on him. Tre’Quan Smith is probably our best wide receiver. I would also pay attention to our defense. A couple of players I would pay attention to are Mike Hughes, a cornerback, and Shaquem Griffin, a linebacker. Those two are both playmakers and will be huge factors in stopping Navy’s triple option.

8. Nebraska fans have prior experience with UCF when Dante Culpepper came to Lincoln in 1997 and roasted the Nebraska defense (we call them the Blackshirts) for 318 passing yards in what turned out to be a very close (by Nebraska standards) 24 – 38 loss. (Btw, Scott Frost put up 120 passing yards and ran for another 50.) Who are some of UCF’s other legends that Nebraska fans should be aware of? 

Austin: Blake Bortles led us to a Fiesta Bowl win so he’s probably going to have a statue on campus at some point. [Ed note: OMG.] Coach George O’Leary put us in the national spotlight by winning 4 conference championships during his tenure. Kevin Smith finished the highest in the school’s history in Heisman voting at 8th place. He had insane rushing numbers and is our best running back in school history. Brandon Marshall, the wide receiver who now plays for the New York Giants, is probably the best professional player to come out of UCF. Another great NFL pro was Asante Samuel.


9.
What would you like to say to Nebraska fans (or Florida or Tennessee fans) who have their eye on Scott Frost? Do you think he’ll be temped to jump to a new program or will he stay put and keep building what he started?

Austin: This is a conversation UCF fans have been having frequently lately. It’s impossible to know at this point what the man is thinking. All that I know is that I will be OK with whatever decision he makes. He’s done more for this program than I ever expected him to do. I will always admire Frost, whether it is here or at another institution.

10. Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday? Do you think the Knights will be able to handle Navy’s option attack and a hostile road environment? Oh, and what did you think of Scott Frost playing QB on the scout team?

Austin: I think we have the personnel to stop the triple option and the offensive weapons to put up enough points to win. However, playing on the road is its own animal but Frost has our kids focused. Also, Navy’s Coach Ken Niumatalolo has his team playing as probably the most disciplined team in the country.

I’m predicting a 24-17 win for UCF.


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Welcome to the Groundhog Day of Miserable Saturdays

This time last Saturday morning I was doing the exact same thing that I’m doing right now- sitting on the couch in our TV room, drinking coffee, watching a college football game I don’t care about, and writing a half assed blog about the misery I will be enduring in a few hours.

The Scheduling Gods hate me.  

The only indicator that this is indeed a new Saturday is the palm sweat that breaks out whenever I think about what’s in store for the evening. The stakes for my two favorite teams have been ratcheted up a little higher. The Dodgers are one step closer to the World Series and the Huskers have the potential to pull off an upset against Ohio State, or have their season get even worse.

At least there was a little breathing room between the Huskers and the Dodgers last Saturday night. Thanks to the magic of living in the future I was able to stream most of the first half of the Wisconsin game. For the first four plays the offense was rolling on a gravy train with biscuit wheels and all was right with the world.

Then Tanner Lee had to throw another opening drive pick six that was virtually identical to his first one against Northern Illinois.

Then I screamed “motherf*cker” in a half empty Dodger Stadium.

My reflexive yell scared the bejeesus out of the fella we’ve sat next to for the past four seasons. As a Dodger fan, I’ve been through thick and thin with Don but it always surprises him when Crazy Husker Fan Todd makes an appearance at the ballpark. Adding to my personal hell was the fact that his wife is as big an Iowa fan as he is a Dodger fan so she was having a mighty good time at the Huskers’ expense.

If you’re keeping score at home, the stress eating stopped when the baseball game started. The playoffs make me way too nervous to eat anything other than my rally towel. 

After Stanley Morgan Jr. took a terrific 80 yard reception to the end zone, it was time for Dodger baseball so I tucked my iPad under my seat and felt good about Huskers only being down 10-7 at halftime.

Somehow that halftime score became 17-10 but I was feeling really good when Aaron Williams tied it up with a pick six of his own. The Dodgers were on the board and the Huskers were setting the table for an upset.

Then the Badgers remembered their playbook was full of unstoppable running plays and spent the remainder of the game shoving the ball down the Blackshirts’ throat. Meanwhile, the Dodgers methodically hung up six runs over two innings with a lone double as the biggest hit. If there was a baseball equivalent of three yards and a cloud of dust, the Dodgers were doing it.

I learned last Saturday night that there’s no weirder purgatory of a feeling than screaming your head off for one team while feeling completely miserable about the other.

Will tonight be any different?

Who knows?

It will either be really good, really craptastic, or somewhere in the middle. Whatever I gain by not having to deal with the trash Ohio State fans who overtake our shared watch site, I lose by having to deal with obnoxious Cubs fans who always swarm Dodger Stadium.

At least the Dodgers added a new churro sundae served in a helmet to the menu for this weekend. If I shovel one of these down between kickoff and first pitch I’ll be ready for anything tonight.

I really hope those are pieces of a full size churro.

Go Huskers. Let’s go Dodgers.

One of these years they’ll both win on the same night.


 

 

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It’s going to be the best night ever or the worst night ever. Or somewhere in-between.

In what has been a semi-regular tradition since 2008, the Huskers will be playing at the exact same time the Los Angeles Dodgers are battling in the playoffs.

If you want a portal into what personal hell looks like, this is it. No sports fan should ever have to deal the the anguish and suspense of their two favorite teams playing simultaneously.

After a spending late night at Dodger Stadium, I woke up at the crack of noon today and have been pacing around the house until it’s time to make the four mile drive back to the ballpark.

By this point, my wife and I have the crossing of team streams down to a semi-exact science. We’ll be in our seats in time for kickoff and I’ll proceed to spend the next hour screaming into a rally towel as I watch the game unfold a few plays behind real-time on my iPad. Once the it’s time for Dodger baseball, I do my best to put the Husker game in the hands of the Football Gods but that never works and I devolve into stress eating garlic fries.

Out of all the times my two worlds have collided, neither the Huskers or the Dodgers have managed to both win. Tonight’s as good as a night as any for that to change.

The Dodgers will be going up against Dbacks pitcher Robbie Ray who is 3-0 against the Boys in Blue this season and has posted a 0.92 ERA in his three starts at Dodger Stadium in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Huskers are trying to avoid making it five losses in a row to those goddamn Badgers including back-to-back heartbreakers. Well, here’s the deal nobody is talking about.

Those goddamn Badgers aren’t that good. They had to rely on Northwestern’s screw ups to win last week and their signature victory was against a BYU team that is 1-5 and all kinds of shitty. As long as Tanner Lee doesn’t score more points for the Badgers than his own offense, the Huskers should win tonight.

Final score: Huskers: 27 –  Badgers: 17


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Get excited. Apparently there’s a game today.

Nothing sucks the joy out of a football Saturday like an 11am kickoff, especially when it follows a loss that is still confusing a week later.

While I couldn’t seem to find the time to write about the Oregon game this week, I had time to watch it (the second half at least) three times and still feel like I don’t understand what exactly happened in Eugene.

Last week’s still-drunk-from-the-night-before prediction was that Bob Diaco would go all Rocky on the Duck defense somehow came kinda true except for the part where Bobby D. let the defense get a little too roughed up before flipping the Eye of the Tiger switch.

Pitching a shut out against the Ducks in the final 30 minutes was something nobody saw coming but then again a 42-14 halftime score walked a big chunk of the crowd from our watch site. By the time the Huskers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, there were maybe a dozen of us left and we were surrounded by 200+ Ohio State fans, including this absolute peach of a lady who couldn’t stand it that the Husker game was left to play on a single TV.

Four random thoughts about the Oregon game 

1. Many folks seemed relieved and/or content that the Huskers weren’t embarrassed in Eugene. (I have to admit I’m kind of in that same boat.) With that final drive getting stomped out on the first play, there was no time to build up a glimmer of hope before the rug was pulled out from under the Big Red and almost coming back from being down 42-14 is the kind of effort that doesn’t require you to change out of your Husker shirt in the parking lot before continuing with the rest of your day.

However, is the standard of “at least we weren’t embarrassed” one we want to settle on? That’s the exact same standard my lovely wife has for me when we attend a social function with her friends. When you think about it, that’s a pretty low standard. Chew with your mouth closed, keep your fly up, and don’t tell any obnoxious jokes at the dinner table… basically as long as I’m not Homer Simpson I’m golden. Myself and the Huskers should probably try to do better one of these years.

2. Tanner’s Lee’s final stats: 19/41, 252 yards, 3 TD, 4INT, -19 rushing. With a line like that, Tanner left the field looking an immobile Tommy Armstrong on a bad day. For all the YOLOBombs Tommy chucked, he was only (miraculously) picked off four times just once in his career. With Tanner’s total lack of mobility, the offense basically gives up an extra runner out of the backfield so his passes better be to the right team.

3. Will DPE ever take one to the house again? When Oregon punted the ball away with 2:25 left in the 4th quarter the stage was set for DPE to tie it up. Instead he called for a fair catch when there was nothing but open field in front of him. Here’s hoping he finds a way to get his groove back before he graduates.

4. Why couldn’t have Stanley Morgan Jr. also have been Tommy’s roommate? Heading into the third game of the season he’s nearly at 50% of his final numbers from 2016 and has already eclipsed his touchdown total.

So… about today’s game…


With Les Miles in the booth, we had to make a drinking game. Play along at your own risk. 

Northern Illinois, huh?

Well, one thing the Huskies have in common with the Huskers is the last time both teams were ranked in the two major polls to end a season was 2012. While that was a crowning achievement for the Huskies, the Huskers, meanwhile, haven’t been able to climb back to what was once a tragically low standard.

NIU’s coach, Rod Carey, took the Huskie helm for the 2012 Orange Bowl as their former coach Dave Doeren parlayed that dream season into a dream job (if you want to call it that) at NC State.

Even if the Huskies are good enough to give the Huskers fits today, you can rest easy knowing the Huskers have a secret weapon lurking on the NIU sideline. Senior kicker Christian Hagan is an Omaha native who grew up a Husker fan. If this game comes down to a last second field goal, there’s no way he can drive a stake through the heart of Husker Nation, right?

But it won’t matter because the Huskers are going to win 49 – 17

PS: Can we at least see some proof of life that Devine Ozibo is still alive.


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Welcome to the best day of the year

Congratulations, everyone.

We did it.

We made it to game day.

For a while there this summer, it didn’t seem like we’d make it by the way each day seemed like it was dragging on forever. Well, we’re finally here and I’ve been bouncing off the walls since waking up at 6am.

Unlike Game Day Eves of season’s past, I slept like a rock. There was insomnia induced by a “What’s Santa Bringing?” level of suspense. With the departure so many of the players we’ve cheered on over the last four years, the 2017 edition of the Huskers feels like a brand new team.

When you’re not quite sure of what to expect, it’s hard to get too worked up. But make no mistake, the excitement is there, especially when it comes to finding out what kind of havoc the new look Blackshirts are going to wreak under Bob Diaco.

They say Bob Diaco is a high motor guy.

The returning faces will help lessen the strangeness of seeing Tanner Lee under center (btw, how is DPE already a senior?) but this team is going to need a little seasoning and breaking in like a fresh pair of underpants.

And the Arkansas State Red Wolves are a great place to start. If the Red Wolves aren’t a team that’s been on your radar, they’re the defending Sun Belt champions, going 8-5 last season and finishing the year with a 31 – 20 Cure Bowl (whatever that one is) win over Scott Frost’s UCF Knights.

The last time the Huskers played the Red Wolves was back in 2012,  a day where Taylor Martinez  completed 13 of 14 (!) passes and Ameer Abdullah ran for 167 yards in a 42 – 13 win that came a week after a frustrating loss to UCLA in Pasadena.

Gus Malzahn coached the Red Wolves that day in his lone season at the helm in Jonesboro. He took over for Hugh Freeze who bounced to Ole Miss after his only year as head coach. In 2013, Brian Harsin took the reigns from Gus for a season before replacing Chris Petersen of at Boise State.

In other words, what the Red Wolves have lacked in coaching stability, they’ve more than made up for it coaching talent. Current head coach Blake Anderson enters his fourth season with a 25 – 15 record. Rumor has it he qualifies for a statue if he makes it through year five.

In the only other meeting between the Huskers and Red Wolves in 2009, Zac Lee (remember him?) went 27/35 for 340 in leading the good guys to 38 – 9 victory.

New QB. Who dis?

It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers the new Lee puts up. As long as he’s tossing those “nice balls” that Mike Riley’s been fond of, a pedestrian final line will be just fine.

There’s no need for the Huskers to get flashy. Use the Red Wolves to work out the kinks and save the really good stuff for next week in Eugene.

And that’s when the season can really begin.

Until then, enjoy this the one. Eat too much. Have some laughs. Text those friends you haven’t heard from since the end of last season. Get pumped about Bob Diaco. Start penciling Tanner Lee into your 2018 fantasy team.

HUSKERS: 35
RED WOLVES: 7

The Big Red Fury World HQ has moved out of mom’s basement and into a tree house.

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The best worst parts of Steve Pederson’s Lost in Ambition

Steve Pederson, yes, the same Steve Pederson who crashed the proud legacy of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program into the side of the proverbial mountain, quietly released his debut novel, Lost in Ambition.

Spanning a brisk 197 pages and a stupefying 38 chapters, Lost in Ambition is a first person story of a football coach at a crossroads in both his life and career.  We’re taken on a journey from his humble beginnings as a high school football player in small town Ohio to the sideline where he’s coaching a major college football team in the National Championship game.

When a writer tries to squeeze several decades into fewer than 200 pages, the end result is that there really isn’t much room for character development, story, or any sense of nuance that makes reading a novel an enjoyable endeavor.

To put it another way, Lost in Ambition is a pile of smoldering garbage.

Somehow, someway, Steve Pederson has managed to produce an end product that is worse than the wreckage he left behind as Nebraska’s athletic director.

I’m normally not one to take a big steaming dump on someone’s art but if a person has the delusional audacity to publish a novel that would get them laughed out of a Learning Annex class AND they happen to be the guy responsible for setting the Nebraska Cornhuskers back a solid decade, then the gloves come off. Reading this turd took three hours off my life and I’m going to get every minute back.

What follows is every best worst passage from Lost in Ambition.

Enjoy!

This is how the story begins. Captivating isn’t it?

As the clock ticks closer to kickoff, our coach isn’t worried about the big game but the drunks in the stands. But there isn’t time to dwell because we have to go on a 190 page flashback.

It doesn’t take long for the swipes at Nebraska to begin. Nine games? That’s certainly not a random number. Turns out our fictitious (and unnamed) coach was a college quarterback himself and won nine games in each of his three years at a starter. In his mind, winning nine games is the pinnacle of mediocrity.

A few pages later, our anonymous coach is back to ranting about nine games.

The first profound quote. At least we know Bill Callahan wasn’t cheating.

IS THAT AN HOMAGE TO CARL PELINI!?! Within a few confusing paragraphs, our protagonist has gone from small time graduate assistant to becoming the running backs coach at “Birmingham State.”

It’s not long before our hero discovers the seedy underworld of ‘crootin’.

This is like the whip cream bikini scene in Varsity Blues if it were reenacted by Maude and Ned Flanders. (WARNING: Wherever you are, turn up your A/C because things are going to get even steamier.)

Our second profound quote. Considering it was bad coaching by Billy C. that got Stevie P. fired so I’m not sure how this computes. At this point in the story, three seasons breeze by and our still unnamed coach takes a leap to the Power 11 Conference to become the running game coordinator at “McNally University,” located somewhere in the frozen tundra of Michigan. 

Illicit blow jobs from boosters’ wives are a McNally University specialty.

Actually, I didn’t remember, Steve. When you take a stab at writing your next novel, try to include more details that will make your characters memorable.

#SidePieceSunday is in full effect at McNally University.

Even the head coach is DTF at McNally University!

Ladies and gentlemen, the most dramatic moment in Lost in Ambition!

I think this might be another thinly veiled swipe at Nebraska.

This is the summary of McNally State’s entire regular season but a big twist is lurking in the bushes as the team heads into the Rose Bowl.

Our still unnamed coach is getting an interview to be the head coach at “Florida A&I.” We never find out what the A&I stand for.

After a clandestine first interview in an airplane hangar, our hero sneaks back to the football offices to continue prepping for the Rose Bowl and discovers his head coach is DTF anytime, anywhere.

ABC… Always Be Crootin’. That is how you win a natty.

Mansions and money. What is this? Dynasty?

It’s official! Our mystery coach is now running a program of his own.

And the first order of business is getting the local media on your side.

Vodka with cranberries? WTF? I have a feeling this reporter is a mashup of Steven M. Sipple and Lee Barfknecht.

And the second order of business is meeting your future sidepiece.

It’s about to go down! (If you haven’t noticed, Steve Pederson loves using exclamation points!)

See! He really does!

This is how long our coach with no name dwells on cheating on his wife. Why is he doing it? We never find out. He never answers his own question.

Zeke Bradshaw (one of the better character names if you can believe it) is going to be the arm that will put Florida A&I over the top!

At page 140, our big discovery is finding out that our still nameless coach is only 33-years-old.

If only Hugh Freeze could have read this book…

Zeke’s big campus visit was successful in more ways than one.

But things are rocky on the home front. Someone is one Harley ride away from ruining it all.

Uh oh. Here comes the Lawrence Phillips character to ruin a dream season.

At least some details were changed. At first, Alonzo gets kicked off the team but is hurried back onto the field after Florida A&I loses two games in a row.

But all that drama turns out to be a moot point because a few short pages later, it’s a new season and Alonzo has cleaned up his act and he and Heisman Trophy winner Zeke have led Florida A&I into the National Championship game against Stanford.

This is the most unbelievable part of the entire book.

At this point were 196 pages deep into a 197 page book. Everything has been building towards the National Championship game and these two sparse paragraphs are all we get.


Then one page later comes the most shocking twist of all in the very last sentence. Coach Tim Greene (way to steal the Mr. Big reveal from the Sex and the City series finale) is calling it a career with no remorse, except for the part where he spent the entire book telling us how remorseful he is about all the bad things he’s done as he’s worked his way up the coaching ladder.

And that, friends, is everything you didn’t want to know about Lost in Ambition.


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Tennessee vs Lockdown U: Your Music City Bowl Preview

Sometimes you wonder how you got somewhere. I have a feeling both Tennessee and Nebraska are wondering how they got to the Music City Bowl.

Tennessee was ranked #9 in preseason polls and picked to win the SEC East at SEC Media Days. I think people started to second guess those predictions when Tennessee went into OT in their season opener against App State. They failed to meet those high expectations and finished behind Florida in the SEC East. The Vols finished conference play with a 4-4 record and against top 25 teams they were 2-2.

The Huskers were on the other side of things. Coming off a 2015 season with a record of 6-7, they weren’t ranked or expected to do much at all. At one point this season they were ranked #7 and on a seven game win streak. They played well with the Badgers and lost in OT, which was a heart breaker. The season kind of fell apart due to injuries after that but my point is that they weren’t ever supposed to be ranked #7 at any point. Neither of these teams were supposed to have either of these seasons. Which, I think is why we all love college football.

Now that I have set the scene, let’s let loose and get delusional like only true fans can do.

Nebraska vs. Tennessee is one of those games that I should probably watch at home by myself because I have already talked myself into a Husker win, and talking yourself into that before the game starts usually leads to a bunch of cuss words being yelled at a TV.

Tennessee was pretty banged up earlier in the season but looks to be mostly healed up and their starters are ready to go. The bad news is that the Huskers can’t say the same. Recently the Huskers have lost QB1, an irreplaceable mustached WR, a safety that can’t bother to attend class, a redshirt freshman WR, and a few recruits. I would like to share something with you. You gotta be down to get up. Any seasoned gambler would know this is the part where you say “I’m due.”

And the Huskers are due.

Tennessee is definitely beatable. Everybody thought they were going to bust out some impressive run this year and talked them up until they went into OT with Appetizer State. They were pretty consistent in the first few games with come from behind wins that every gambler will remember, with that Tennessee – Florida game being especially brutal. But, then there is the bad Tennessee who lost to Vanderbilt in their last game. They are kind of like the Huskers in the way that you just don’t know which team is going to show up.

The Tennessee QB, Josh Dobbs, has thrown for 2,655 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. You might think that sounds like trouble when you look at Ryker Fyfe who has thrown for 315 yards and 2 touchdowns. No, no, no. What that tells me is that Ryker is fresh. Josh Dobbs sounds like he is probably tired and worn out. Ryker is just getting going, Dobbs is ready to retire. I like our odds in the QB category.

Jalen Hurd, Tennessee’s best RB got the hell out of there and flat out left the team midway through the season when a game against Nebraska started to look possible. So they don’t even have their best RB. Again, I like that. I would talk about the Tennessee WRs but that would mean that I don’t have any faith in our defense and it’s not called Lockdown U for nothing, folks. So I’m not going to talk about wide receivers that aren’t even going to touch the ball, that would be a waste of my time. I’m also not that concerned about the Tennessee defense considering UK scored 36 on them and then Mizzou scored 37 actual points. And they lost to VANDERBILT. Even Mizzou beat Vanderbilt! That tells me that their defense is actually nonexistent at times.

To be honest, now I’m even more convinced of a 10 win season. Huskers by two touchdowns. #GBR


For real time hot takes from Leslie, follow her on Twitter- @lesmicek

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One Thing Nobody Has Mentioned About That Music City Bowl Tweet

Shortly after it was announced that the Huskers would resume their bowl game dominance over the Tennessee Volunteers in Nashville’s Music City Bowl, the bowl’s official Twitter account revealed which team it’s pulling for in a tweet that boasted not one but four exclamation marks.

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As we all know, this turned out to be a social media boo-boo straight out of 2011. Remember when Chrysler dropped an F-Bomb in a rant about Detroit drivers?

The person behind that one was quickly fired.

Luckily for the thumbs behind @MusicCityBowl, it sounds like their job is spared based on the candid mea culpa that quickly followed.

But let’s go back to the errant tweet for a closer look.

Aside from the fact that there are “social media professionals” who are as bad at using Twitter as your grandma, the tweet itself contains quite the loaded statement.

“At least my team will be in our Bowl game this year!!! go vols!

Based on the capitalization of ‘Bowl’ and ‘vols’ in lowercase, it’s clear this was a rather hastily composed thought that was sent via Facebook. (Seriously, who still connects their accounts like this?)

Then there’s the juicy bitterness of  “At least my team will be in our bowl game…” 

If that doesn’t scream college-football-fan-who-had-his-or-her-season-wrecked then I don’t know what does.

Let’s breakdown the hell the Volunteers have put their fans through this season.

After a 5-0 start that featured back-to-back wins over #19 Florida (a 28 point 4th quarter comeback that cost me a five team parlay) and #25 Georgia (a 20 point 4th quarter comeback that ended with a ridiculous Hail Mary) the wheels completely fell off Tennessee’s wagon. Over the next three Saturdays, the Volunteers tumbled from #9 all the way out of the top 25.

First there was a double-overtime loss to #8 Texas A&M (remember when they were ranked?) followed by a 49-10 dismantling by Alabama. This three week stretch of doom was capped with a 24-21 loss to South Carolina. (Does anyone even know who their coach is these days?)

Tennessee picked themselves up off the mat and crawled back into the top 25 thanks to a nice little win streak with victories over SEC softies Kentucky and Mizzou and pulled out a 55-0 squeaker against FCS juggernaut Tennessee Tech.

Then came their season finale against Vanderbilt. The Commodores sailed away with a 45-34 upset victory,  just their sixth win over the Volunteers since 1965.

And they play each other every year.

There’s not even a way to put a loss like that into context for the Huskers. If you combined the historical ineptitude of Kansas with our growing hatred for Iowa, you’d only be scratching the surface of what the Tennessee – Vanderbilt rivalry is like. It certainly doesn’t help that Vandy has won three out of the last five games either.

If you go to the Music City Bowl and someone asks if they can take your picture for the Twitter, offer them a hug. There’s a good chance their team has put them through much, much worse than how the Huskers have tortured us this season.


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It’s Already Been a Week?

The best part about being your own boss is dictating your own schedule.

A week has passed since the Huskers ended their regular season by getting taken to the woodshed by Iowa and I’m only writing about it now because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to deal with thinking about that damn game.

A season that started with so much hope and promise flat out belly flopped on the Kinnick Stadium turf. (Writing that sentence alone is giving me a serious TUMS craving. Or maybe that’s the box of cereal I had for lunch.)

Out of the Huskers’ three regular season losses, losing to Iowa by far hurt the worst and not just because it was stinkin’ Iowa.

Coming up short in overtime in a winnable game against Wisconsin stung but proved the Huskers were ready to compete with anyone in the Big Ten, for at least a week anyway.

Getting blown out 62-3  by Ohio State seven days later showed there was plenty of room for growth before being able to compete with every Big Ten team but the thing about getting trucked like that is that sometimes it’s just your turn to get eaten by the bear to paraphrase The Stranger from the Big Lebowski.

Losing to Iowa, though, was a whole new level of ugly, like getting farted on during a lap dance in a Council Bluffs strip club kind of ugly.

There was no justifiable reason for the Huskers to have even have been in a situation where that could have happened but everything that could wrong did go wrong, starting with Bad Tommy coming out to play.

Side story time…

My good buddy Marc joined us at our local Husker bar to watch his first ever Nebraska game on purpose.  He’s a die-hard USC fan and for the last three years our Dodger season tickets have been a couple rows behind his and his father’s. Marc’s meltdowns are the stuff legend in our section. He let it be known well in advance that he was looking forward to seeing myself and fellow Big Red Fury writer/Dodger fan, Leslie Micek, get heated like he does when the Dodgers blow an 8th inning lead.

Thanks to the Huskers laying an egg from the get go, our level of outward rage didn’t peaked at “disappointed grandpa,” which, if you’ve ever disappointed your grandpa, you know is the worst kind of rage. That I’m-so-mad-I-can’t-even-talk-to-you kind of rage that makes you question your very place on this Earth.

Our lack of conversation gave Marc plenty of time to observe the Huskers. He fit right in too, even yelling “holding” right on cue with everyone else who noticed penalties that the Big Ten refs are seemingly blind to.

Marc’s big observation involved the lack of creativity the Huskers’ offense.

1st down: Get stuffed with a run up the middle.
2nd down: Swing pass to the sideline that goes nowhere.
3rd down: YOLObomb that lands in a green sea of empty turf.

At one point Marc sincerely asked us if Tommy always played like he did against Iowa and how much worse the Huskers backups had to be if they weren’t getting any PT.

After explaining that Tommy was basically playing on one leg and how the holder was the emergency third string quarterback, he simply shook his head in awe that we’re able to saddle up Huskers week in and week out.

It’s what we Husker fans do. Ride or die, ya know.

On to the usual stuff…


Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch
mike-riley-flaming-pile-of-poo
Oh how we didn’t miss you, flaming poop emoji.

Our Score Prediction

Honestly, I should have known the Huskers were going to be doomed thanks to the random drunk Jedi. I only wanted Chewbacca in the video but he insisted they worked as a team so I gave him $7 thinking they’d split it like a couple of Hollywood Blvd’s Spider-Men do. When we were done filming, which took exactly as long as the video above, he asked for his cut. I told him I only had a buck left and that’s all I could give him so homeboy had the audacity to pull out a Square credit card reader and had the balls to ask for $20 for his performance.

The last costumed weirdo to pull that move was a Captain America before the Miami game last year and we know how that one turned out.

You’re dead to me, Chewie.

What a Husker crowd looks like after Iowa has walked most of the room.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

I don’t even want to look. Enjoy this courtside view of the Husker basketball team instead. They didn’t look to bad against UCLA.


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Sunday Evening Hot Takes: Maryland Edition

As an In-N-Out enthusiast, Mike Riley might be calling the Maryland game his coaching Double Double.

OK, probably not. But get a load of the ways the Huskers doubled up the Terrapins.

Total Yards

Nebraska 401
Maryland 207

Time of Possession
Nebraska 39:00
Maryland 21:00

If this recap is already dripping with all the excitement of an owner’s manual for an alarm clock, it’s because there isn’t much to work with on this one.

Outside of oohing and aahing like it was the 4th of July every time Ryker Fyfe completed one of his 23 passes, this was by far the most non-exciting game of the season. Even the vanilla Fresno State game had the newness of a season opener going for it and a 22 point 4th quarter to make sure everyone paid attention to end.

Not that there’s ever anything wrong with boring when the Huskers leave the field with a win AND hold their opponent to 11 yards rushing. The seniors got a great sendoff, a touching tribute was paid Sam Foltz, and the newest Husker Jack Johnson had the best day ever.

Meanwhile, 15 of Husker Nation’s finest rolled out of bed to make a 9am kickoff.

Before you label us a boring crowd of Husker fans, just know that we were saving our energy for the social event of the season- #IOWAHATEWEEK.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch
mike-riley-happy-balloon9a
Did you know one of HCMR’s nicknames is Ol’ Nine Balloons Riley?

Our Score Prediction

Had we known back in August that Ryker would be starting this one we certainly would have dialed down the offensive output a smidge.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

3: It was a career Senior Day for Terrell Newby as he found the end zone three times, setting a personal single game record. One more and he would have entered Al Bundy territory.

175: The yardage Terrell Newby needs to hit 1,000 on the ground for the season. Still not outside the realm of possibility.

.705: The Huskers are batting over .700 on 4th down, going 12 for 17 on the year so far.

9, 10, 11: As a college coach Mike Riley has hit the 9 win mark four times and got to 10 once back in 2006. He’s never had an 11 win season.

60/40: The run/pass split is currently a dead even 60/40. Last season it was 52/48.  This isn’t by any means a sexy statistic but keep in in your back pocket if Uncle Run the Ball Guy goes on a rant about the Huskers running less this season over Thanksgiving dinner. You’ll show him who’s boss.

6: This one is really going down the rabbit hole of extreme randomness but did you know that six different Huskers attempted a pass back in 2006? Zac Taylor, Joe Ganz, Dan Titchener, Maurice Purify, Marlon Lucky, and Jake Wesch?  Maybe you could win a bet with Uncle Run the Ball Guy with that useless nugget.

Oh the things you find skimming through seasons of stats when you’re trying to avoid writing about a boring game.


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