Tag Archives: mike riley

Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Northern Illinois Edition

Well, it happened. Northern Illinois broke me.

Over the course of 60 minutes, the youthful exuberance and optimism that I’ve had for the Huskers since the age of Game of the Century II was ripped from my body.

It wasn’t a swift, it-will-only-hurt-for-a-second, pulling of the Band-Aid that held what was left of  my spirit together. It was a back alley surgery done by a community college dropout equipped with nothing more than a rusty Garden Weasel and a bottle of expired Robitussin to use as anesthesia.

When I finally regained consciousness following this Medieval procedure, there was no physical evidence of the damage that was inflicted, only a feeling of emptiness where my Husker soul once resided.

Then I looked in the mirror and discovered my hair had been seared into a shade of white, highlighted by a distinct hue.

Congratulations, Huskers.

You did it.

You turned me into a Blue Hair.

Before today, I had a little grey around the ears but I thought for sure I had another decade and a half before the Grumpy Old Man Achievement was unlocked. But nope, today was the fateful day. I didn’t even get to make a pit stop at the Run the Ball Guy level. The Northern Illinois game transported me right to the end.

At least my youth went out with a bang. I watched the game alone in the fort that sits at the top of our backyard and fixed myself a hearty breakfast of Lucky Charms and a few beermosas. I  was living that best life that Ben Sasse hates all too well. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

Then Tanner Lee threw a pick six and then another one for good measure and then I switched to drinking straight beer.

When that shit show mercifully ended, I holed up in the fort long after the final whistle, laying on the floor, using an inflatable beach chair as a pillow, and doing my best to avoid my lovely wife, who would no doubt ask if the Huskers won. We’ve been together for 12 years and outside that glimmer of hope in 2009, she’s never known the Huskers as a good team. It’s been a long running joke in her family about how every season is going to be the year until it isn’t. Sunday afternoon she’ll have a few laughs with her Georgia Tech alum father about my misery and she’ll pass along the cleverly underhanded condolences from her mother. (I swear the lady does research in order to craft the perfectly cruel thing to say.)

The most biting part of losing to Northern Illinois is that it doesn’t sting. It’s a new, undiscovered level of embarrassment.

From 1987-2001, the Huskers lost 26 games and every single one was a devastating loss. Since 2002, the once mighty Big Red has put up 73 losses and when a fresh one gets added to the scorebook, fans either become more numb or, even worse, indifferent. The crop of fans that was born during the dynasty of the 90s are pushing 25 these days and none of them know a time when the Huskers were a consistent juggernaut. Sure, there were a few good seasons but there’s legacy to hang your Cornhead on.

And that’s a big problem.

At the path they’re currently on, the Huskers are going to be known to future generations as a team that doesn’t win them all but might be able to run with the B1G dogs for 55 minutes and maybe even knock one off every season or two.

Meanwhile, those of us who are old enough to have been there will keep muttering to anyone who will listen that the Huskers went 60-3 once.

Enough moping. Here’s the shit that sticks in my craw.

SHAWH EICHORST: At least he got the memo quick that Black Fridays are for Husker football. Now he just needs to remember that the next time he’s on the cusp of making another mealy mouthed decision for the good of the Big Ten at the expense of the Huskers. Shawn, put your foot down and stand up for the school that pays you, not suck up to the one you wish would hire you.

MIKE RILEY: There has to be a point where even the World’s Nicest Coach gets pissed off enough to flip a table and shows some real emotion and fire. Half the time he roams the sidelines like he’s either Walter Mitty or a grizzled coach who was probably going to retire until he won a lottery he didn’t know he entered and ended up with a job in coaching heaven.

Pretend for a moment that you’re a 17-year-old being recruited to play at Nebraska. Would you see the opportunity as a chance to help a once storied program return to glory or as a chance to take the easy way out?

Think about it.

You’d be playing for a coach who doesn’t yell at you AND would hook you up with Kendrick Lamar tickets. He’s basically a super chill grandpa. He won’t even suspend you for weed. Your locker room is so nice it makes the facilities on a Saudi Prince’s yacht look pedestrian. You’d get all the adidas gear you could handle (maybe even a pair of Yeezys). Then there are the fans who always show up NO MATTER WHAT and will cheer you on to the bitter end or until your lackluster play sends them to the exits but they’ll all be back next week because that’s what Nebraska fans do. If you can handle the relaxed pace and schizophrenic weather of Lincoln, you’d live like a football god and get all the thrills of playing at a marquee program without any of the annoying pressure to accomplish something. If that sounds far fetched, there’s a key recruit who didn’t even make it to fall practice before being shipped back to Calabraska.

THE HUSKER BRAND: It’s time to get back to the good ol’ days when it was the football team that won all the trophies instead of its in-house advertising agency. Look, I know all the Chatsnap and Instantgram videos and other #onbrand #content that fans love is really to lure potential recruits but maybe it’s time to dial it back. If the architects of the Husker Brand are so concerned with its image that Fox Sports is asked to stop running a promotional video that shows the goddamn Nebraska Cornhuskers standing in a goddamn cornfield, you might as well change the team name to the Silicon Prairie Dogs and put helmet cams on every player and stream the games live on Twitch.

During the summer, the Huskers digital department posted a video of Tristan Gebbia and a few other young players exploring all of downtown’s attractions like Raising Canes (whatever the hell that is) and Chipotle (Taco John’s for life) and other fast casual restaurants. I know kids these days are special and unique snowflakes but if their decision to come to Lincoln hinges on mediocre dining options then maybe they’re not the right players.

Back in my day if you ever saw a football player stroll into a downtown restaurant, you gave them a wide berth and didn’t make eye contact just like gazelles do when a lion saunters up to the watering hole.

And here’s the important thing. None of those guys gave two shits about living in a college town that was considered cool to people outside Nebraska. The only media exposure they got was a yearly black and white picture in the Husker Media Guide and they were happy. If any of them were asked to take over the Huskers Instagram account for day, the first thing posted would be a video of the Husker digital intern who bothered them with that dumb question getting his spine ripped out because those guys came to Lincoln to do two things: play football and kick ass.

TANNER LEE: I’m not going to go back and see which interception it was but there was a moment during the game where Tanner was on the bench getting some words of encouragement from Joshua Kalu. Dude, you’re the quarterback and a captain and the Huskers are your team. Get off the bench and fire up your teammates, unless throwing a “nice ball” to other teams is literally your only skill.

THE OFFENSIVE LINE: There was once a unit that went an entire season without giving up a single sack. It’d be nice if these guys could stop giving up a sack every series.

THE BLACKSHIRTS: Handing out 16 Blackshirts before the season begins is like handing out 16 participation trophies before a game starts. But Bob Diaco’s defense has quietly given up only one touchdown in the last six quarters despite the lack of a total badass to anchor the defense and send fear into the hearts into the team on the other side of the ball. Was Randy Gregory the last one? Sure feels like it. Oh wait. There was Nate Gerry, when he could bother to not be suspended.

THE SOCKS: During the pre-game show before the Oregon game, Matt Davison went on a little rant about how the Huskers no longer wear matching socks and it ruins the look of the uniform. At the time it seemed like a minor quibble but while watching the Huskers play like shit, I noticed they look like shit. That socks thing is kind of a big deal. You see white socks, red socks, black socks, high socks, and low socks. They look like a Pop Warner team where everything was included except the socks and the coach told the players to wear whatever they like. To bring it back to the 90s glory days one more time, I had a classmate in Sports Broadcasting class who was dating a football player. During warmups she pointed him out from up in the booth and told us that he was intentionally wearing his socks low so that he would stand out on the field (this was during the time of the red knee highs that Davison loved). When he went in to make his first punt return of day, the ref halted the game and ordered him to fix his socks so he matched his teammates.

Being on the same page with the little shit turns into being on the same page with the big shit… like not getting beat at home by Northern Illinois.

Alright. I’ve ranted enough. The early bird special starts in six hours at IHOP. I better go get in line.

MIKE RILEY’S BALLOON WATCH

We’ve reached football armageddon, people. And it’s only week four.


 

Share

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.


Share

Tuesday Afternoon Hot Takes: Arkansas State Edition

Well, that Arkansas State game was one way to accelerate the season from 0 – Chaos and Despair in the span of 60 minutes that felt like four hours.

Oh wait, that game was four hours long.

After a slightly shaky start, the Huskers got on a roll and Mike Riley was pumped.


But near the end of the fourth quarter he was suddenly too old for this shit.

By now, Husker Nation should be used to season openers that are full of stomach churning drama but it never gets any easier seeing the season flash before our collective eyes before it even has a chance to get started.

As dramatic as Arkansas State’s final push was on the field, the real drama of the night happened in the press room when new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco declined to talk about his defense that gave up 497 yards, most of which came on 46 completed passes that felt like one paper cut after another.

 

The butt hurt media got their wish and finally heard from Coach D. yesterday and boy did they ever. It’s safe to say he won’t be treating the World-Herald staff to lunch anytime soon.

So, to go back to the game, here are some random thoughts in a semi-particular order:

Hasta Luego YOLObomb: Laser Guided Bomb isn’t quite as catchy as YOLObomb but holy shit does Tanner Lee know how to throw a football. Along with a 44 yard precision strike to notch his first TD pass as a Husker, he showed deft touch on swing passes that often fell incomplete in previous seasons.

Tre BryantIn one night he eclipsed his 2016 rushing total with 192 yards on 31 carries and was the biggest surprise of the night in a night full of surprises on the offensive side of the ball.

The Jet Sweep: After two years fruitless of watching DPE get stuffed at the line of scrimmage, it finally worked. And it would have been a touchdown too if it weren’t for that meddling sideline.

JD Speilman and Tyjon LindseyThese guys are going to be fun to watch.

We’re already in mid-season form: Ryan from the Big Red Cobcast hosted a BBQ to kickoff the season and by the final play we all hit our stride as fans.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

225: The Huskers’ rushing total.

238: The Huskers’ yardage through the air.

Can you say balanced offense?

MIKE RILEY’S BALLOON WATCH

No game recap that comes three days after the fact is complete without checking in on the state of Mike Riley.

This is Coach Riley when all is well with the Huskers.

And here’s the mood heading into Saturday’s showdown with Oregon.


Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild season.


Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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.


Share

Guess there’s a game today, huh?

Get excited. There’s a Husker game tonight.

What? You’re not pumped by the fact there’s a reasonable chance that the kid who currently plays holder could end up under center this evening?

Look people, there are two important things to know about this game.

1. No matter what happened this week, it is still gameday. We don’t get many of these a year and after this one there are only three of them left, barring any awful miracle that could lead to the Huskers playing Ohio State again.

2. Minnesota is not to be confused with Wisconsin or Ohio State. Granted, potential disaster is always on the table but there’s no way the Golden Gophers will hang 62 points on the Huskers, so that’s a good thing.

Minnesota comes to Lincoln with an identical 7-2 record, with their losses coming against Penn State (26-29 in OT) and Iowa (7-14, yes, they played all four quarters in that one).

The Gophers notched their big wins of the season against… um… wait a second… uh… nope… they really haven’t beaten a team that’s marginally good.

Then again, their numbers in wins against common opponents with the Huskers are similar enough to raise concern. Try these on for size.

Illinois
Huskers 31-16
Gophers 40-17

Purdue
Huskers 27-14
Gophers 44-31

Whatever though. This is Minnesota we’re talking about. It’s important to note that both Illinois and Purdue were softened up by the Huskers first. It’s not hard to beat a team when it has already been flogged into demoralizing submission by the Big Red.

While the Big Ten scheduling gods have been mostly nice to Minnesota, this game is where the Gophers start a gauntlet to end their regular season. After Nebraska, Wisconsin and Northwestern are on deck.

Even with Ryker or Zack at the wheel, the Huskers should be able to handle this one. If there was ever a time to turn the running backs loose, it’s tonight. A steady diet of Newby, Ozigbo, and Wilbon plus a touchdown by the Blackshirts should get the Huskers all the points they need to keep the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy in Lincoln for another year. As much of a gamer as he is, there’s no reason for Tommy to risk taking another shot to the head so soon.

Huskers 44
Gophers 20
(Don’t laugh. We made this prediction back in August and we’re sticking to it. YOLO.)

mike-riley-carl-spackler
Mike Riley. Master football strategist. Caddy to the Dali Lama.


Share

Sunday Afternoon Hot Takes: Ohio State Edition

In case you were lucky enough to miss last night’s debacle, here’s a recap of all you need to know.

Where do we even begin? This was such a vicious, unbridled ass kicking it should have come with a trigger warning.

Without subjecting myself to the digital paper cuts of verifying exactly where this loss ranks among historical beat downs, these are the first pummelings that come to mind that no amount of therapy has been able to erase.

Texas Tech, 2004 – Remember how we were tricked into thinking  this game could be chalked up to the growing pains of installing the West Coast Offense and not the harbinger of doom that Bill Callahan was a lousy coach?

Colorado, 2001 – The go-to game when it’s time to point to the one that ruined it all.

Miami, 2002 – Proved the previous game wasn’t a fluke.

Miami, 1992 – The shutout that led to a dynasty.

Arizona State, 1996 – The shutout that ended a dynasty.

Missouri, 2008 – Remember how we were tricked into believing that these meltdowns would stop when Bo Pelini had “his” players and not the harbinger of doom that Pelini was a lousy coach?

Wisconsin, 2014 – OK we get it now. Please make it stop.

Laser Tag, 1987 – Out of all the savage and merciless beat downs I’ve ever endured, this one hits the closest to home and is the most analogous to what transpired last night in Columbus. This one bubbled up while listening to Big Red Overreaction on the way home. Thanks, Damon Benning.

Buckle up, kids. It’s story time.

The scene, Grand Island, NE. 1987. Fifth grade. The martial arts fad inspired by the Karate Kid had finally died out and what had been a downtown dojo was transformed into a futuristic Laser Tag arena.  No longer would we be subjected to playing in dingy basements. (Playgrounds and parks were off-limits after a kid in California was shot by a police officer who thought he had a real gun.) We finally had a real Laser Tag arena that was worthy of the booming metropolis that was Nebraska’s third largest city.

My friends and I played there every chance we could. The arena boasted pro-level equipment, a maze of unfinished plywood, and more black lights than an above average bong store.

It wasn’t long before the management invited us to join a league that was forming. We knew right away that this was destined to be our first step on the path towards becoming professional Laser Tag players. There was no professional league yet but there would be. Laser Tag was the sport of the future and we weren’t going to waste this opportunity.

In the two weeks leading up to our first match, we put ourselves though boot camp. We had conditioning workouts at recess and strategy sessions after school. Down in our basement we built a replica of the arena out of refrigerator boxes that we dragged home from an appliance store so we could practice close quarters combat in secret. We were so driven and obsessed we should have planned a bank robbery instead. We probably would have gotten away with it.

Our debut match was on a school night which made it that much more special. After enduring the longest day ever, my mom dropped the four of us Lazer Boltz (the still crummy team name I had to think up on the spot when we signed up for the league) off outside the arena.

We were still on the curb when our competition pulled up.

In their own cars.

Not only were they high school kids, they were the kind of of long haired metal heads you avoided at the pool and ran from at the mall. The deep end and arcade was their turf and we were grateful to be occasional guests.

Now we were about to be locked in a pitch black room with them and would be trapped in there until victors emerged.

Still, we liked our chances. While these kids were busy smoking cigarettes and listening to records backwards, we were training. In an egalitarian and utopian sport such as Laser Tag, it didn’t matter that we were each outweighed by 100lbs.

Until it did matter.

The Lazer Boltz started out strong but we were soon over matched when our foes realized that no referee in the arena meant that an abstract concept such as “rules” didn’t need to exist. They systematically chased us down like a pack of raptors and wrestled us into full nelsons and executed us at point blank range.

The yellow belt I earned in that very room six months earlier would prove to be no match for brute size and strength but at least I knew how to take a punch.

The Lazer Boltz disbanded after our first and only match. My mom flew off the handle on the guy who ran the place when she returned to find a quartet of sniveling kids on the curb. Turned out we were the only actual children in the league and were invited to only to help boost the numbers.

None of us ever returned.  The arena went out of business a few months later.


By this point,  Husker Nation should know how to take a gut punch and roll with it. A team can practice hard and do everything right but sometimes it’s going to walk into a buzz saw from which there will be no escape. All you can do is take your lumps, move on, and get better.

Last night, Ohio State was that buzz saw and the Huskers were humiliated on the national stage. It’s wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time. Shit happens and sometimes that shit is a scoreboard that reads 62-3.

In my preview of the game, I said that Tommy Armstrong Jr. could cement his legacy at Nebraska by leading the Huskers to victory. Instead, he cemented it by walking back onto the field in medical scrubs 58 minutes after he was strapped to a spinal board and taken to the hospital with his future hanging in the balance. In a night marked by defeat, this was the bigger victory.

Now for the usual Sunday stuff.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch
mike-riley-happy-balloon-hindenburg
Shout out to @KingJHip for suggesting the Hindenburg.

Our Score Prediction

fullsizerender2Just a little off with the Huskers winning 28-21. Then again, nobody saw this one coming.

It should be noted that the contingent of Ohio State fans was (mostly) gracious in victory and just as concerned for Tommy as Husker fans were.

img_9974Hey kids, don’t lick dry erase marker.

img_9976Thanks for helping make us forget this game ever happened, Vinnie.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

Add the first four items up and you get a pregame YOLObomb. (Click the link to watch a video of the shenanigans.)

img_9969
Nothing says eating your feelings like an ice cream sandwich of defeat.


Share

Sorry Ohio State, Nebraska Nice is Over

Another week, another big game for your still-in-the-top-10 Huskers.

Following last Saturday’s disappointing loss at Wisconsin, Mike Riley said that his team would be “playing mad” tonight against Ohio State.

The Huskers should be playing more than mad. They should be playing with the intent to rip the collective throat out of the Buckeyes. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Their season is on the line.

If there was ever a time for this team to show the college football world the Huskers are back, it’s tonight.

Under the prime time lights.

On Ohio State’s home turf.

Imagine how hard Kirk Herbstreit will be losing his shit if the Blackshirts swagger onto the hallowed ground where he once posted a minus 200 QB rating and kicked the crap out of Ohio State like they were reenacting all the best parts of Road House.

It’s time for The Horseshoe to turn into the Double Deuce with Nate Gerry playing the role of Dalton. He needs to be the cooler who keeps the Buckeyes out of the end zone.

Tommy Armstrong can play the wise old sage Wade Garret because that’s who we need Tommy to be tonight. This evening is as good as any for him to solidify a place in Husker lore. Beating Ohio State in Columbus will go a long way towards forgetting all those YOLObombs.

However, if bad Tommy comes out to play, it will be yet another knife in the chest for Husker Nation- just like Wade Garrett.

Spoiler alert: Wade doesn’t make it out alive.

But the Huskers will be leaving Columbus with a win

Huskers 28 – Ohio State 21.


Share

Halloween Huskers 2016

Happy Halloween, Husker Nation.

As is tradition around these parts, we took the liberty in suggesting some costume ideas for Husker players and staff. You can see our previous Halloween spectaculars here and here. (Trigger Warning: the latter link includes photos from the previous regime.)

Here are this year’s costumes…

Mike Riley as General Francis X. Hummel

mike-riley

Yes, General Hummel was technically the villain in The Rock but his heart was in the right place. More importantly, he was a total bad ass much like Riley has been this season when it comes to deciding to go for it on 4th down.

Nate Gerry as Colossus

nate-gerry

We all know Nate loves Bane but when your NECK IS WIDER THAN YOUR HEAD there’s only one comic book character right for you.

Bruce Read as Mark Davis

bruce-read

He Mark, if you want a really, really, really good special teams coach, we bet you can snag him for only $455,000 plus some free buffet coupons after you move the Raiders to Vegas.

Ross Dzuris as Bill the Butcher

ross-dzuris

Ross is already 90% of the way there thanks to his sweet, sweet mustache.

Billy Devaney as a 90s era Frank Solich

billy-devaney

Eh, you can’t win ’em all.

Dylan Utter as Harry Knowles

dylan-utter

Both of these guys weigh over 300lbs and have monolithic chin beards. The only difference is one is the King of the Nerds and the other could rip me in half for comparing him to the King of the Nerds.

Michael Rose-Ivey as Teddy Pendergrass

michael-rose-ivey

Michael is known for playing lights out. Teddy is known for his hit Turn Off the Lights. And they both have kick-ass beards.

Brandon Reilly as Brian, the overly friendly Chotchkie’s Waiter.

brandon-rielly

We all remember Brandon’s history with a waiter, right? Right?

Clete McLeod as the Men’s Warehouse Guy.

clete-mcleod

Strength Coach Celete will get the Huskers ripped. He guarantees it.

Creighton Hamik as a Jaysker

creighton-hamik

When your name’s Creighton but you play for the Huskers, there’s really only one choice.

Bo Kittrel as David St. Hubbins

bo-kitrell

If you’ve got the hair, you might as well use it to your advantage. Then again, would a kid in 2016 have even heard of Spinal Tap?

Todd McShane as Dirk Chatelain

todd-mcshane

Sorry, Todd. On the upside, you could make your Dirk costume interactive by blasting Springsteen while blocking people on Twitter.


Share