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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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Four Random Things Before the Huskers Beat Illinois

1) Dry erase marker is no match for the power of Eddie Van Halen. If you can’t decipher it, our score prediction has the Huskers handling Illinois 31 – 14. Who cares what Vegas and the pundits think? Clearly they have overlooked the fact that a highly capable fullback has been found in hiding in a dark, dusty corner of the Huskers’ offensive quiver. With the weather report calling for heavy gusts of wind and other misery, today is the perfect crappy day to finally get the ground game sorted out.

2) Oh, and rumor has it this guy is back. If that’s true, why is Illinois even bothering to take the field?

3) The Westerkamps are in Champaign right now and drinking all the beer.

4) Bo Pelini is six miles from the Nebraska border this very instant as his Youngstown State Penguins are set for a rumble with the South Dakota Coyotes under the roof of the DakotaDome. Please pay no attention to the fact that we jumped to the conclusion that it was impossible for South Dakota to boast not one but TWO colleges and plum mixed up the Jackrabbits with the Coyotes. (See #6.) Finally, not to pour any salt in the open wound that is the Bankshirt™ secondary, but Pelini’s Penguins have given up only 26 yards through the air in their wins over Robert Morris and St. Francis who were a combined 3 – 23 passing.

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Game Day Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Illinois Fighting Illini

Three things we learned in compiling this Nebraska – Illinois preview:

1. The Illinois Fighting Illini must have had one roll of film in their camera during the 1980’s. Case in point, a Google Image Search for Jeff George. There is not a single photo of him and his sweet mustache in an Illinois uniform to be found on the internet which really throws our plans for a sweet stache bash between George and Jordan Westerkamp for a loop.

Jeff George Mustache

2. If photos the most famous/notorious player to ever wear blue and orange barely exist, good luck finding a photo of Jordan Westerkamp’s dad Bob in action for the Fighting Illini.

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3. Jordan Westerkamp’s older brother Matt has an amazing mullet.

matt-westerkamp
Between Jordan’s stache and Matt’s mullet, the Westerkamp bros could give the Franco bros a run for their money.

Now that your mind is blown, here’s what you need to know about tonight’s match up.

Confidence: The Illini travel to Nebraska for the second year in a row (nice scheduling, Big Ten) and the outcome won’t be any different.

Scouting Report: According to Steven M. Sipple, the Illini run Tim Beck’s favorite offense – that multiple one. They come in to Lincoln with a 3-1 record- their lone loss a drubbing at the hands of a rebuilding Washington team. It’s also worth noting that the Illini’s first victory was at the expense of Youngstown State so it will be interesting to see if Bo Pelini goes for a little get back in honor of his hometown. Illinois might burn Nebraska a couple of times but look for the Blackshirts to have things on lock down by halftime.

Ideal Scenario: First and foremost the 8pm(!) kickoff should be late enough to scare away the blue hairs who would otherwise sit on their keisters and complain about the Huskers’ alternate uniforms.

nebraksa alternate uniform
The helmet is killer. The actual uniform is still a little off. The reflective numbers and accents are going to wreak havoc for photographers.

Continue to see Ameer Abdullah go HAM. With Oregon off this week, ESPN will be Marcus Mariotta free so tonight is a great chance for Ameer to be in the spotlight and build his Heisman case, except that dang 8pm kick off (the blue hairs may have a valid point) means the game won’t end unit close to 1am on the East Coast. So here’s to Ameer going off in the first half.

The other storyline to consider is if Jordan Westerkamp will show any mercy to his home state team and his dad’s alma mater. Illinois and every other school recruited Jordan before he ultimately chose Nebraska. Here’s hoping his roommate slings a few big passes his way.

Look for the Husker starters to turn things over to the back ups by the early 4th quarter and start resting up for next week’s showdown at Michigan State. The Husker faithful stay in the stands until the very end unless making it to last call with time to spare becomes an issue.

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 3 with the game on the Big Ten Network and a soft opponent, don’t look for Bo’s rage to be an issue tonight.

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