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Sunday Afternoon Hot Takes: Northwestern Edition

While there were a few butt-clenching moments and flashbacks to Northwestern games of yore, the 2016 installment of this young rivalry will probably go down as one of the least memorable games of the season.

And that’s not because the Husker fans who made the trip did their best drink Chicago out of beer.

This Husker team is going on to bigger and better things this season and Ryan Field was just another stop on the way to the next one. While the 24-13 final score wasn’t the flashiest, the Huskers did achieve something quite remarkable en route to the W.

They finally found a way to get out of their own way.

Let’s count the miscues that normally would have spelled certain doom.

  • Two end zone fumbles that took 14 points off the board.
  • A 42 yard touchdown run by Wildcat QB Clayton Thorson. Last year he gashed the Huskers with runs of 68 and 49 yards.
  • A pick six thrown by Tommy. Oh wait. That would-be interception was dropped. Thank you, Wildcat defender.

It was so refreshing to see this team be able to put their mistakes behind them and not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  With Illinois coming to Lincoln next week, we’ll find out if these guys really have turned a corner should they find themselves back in an ominous 3rd and 7 situation.

Where I Watched The Game

Thanks to a “borrowed” BTN2GO password I was able to take the game with me and watch from my summer home at Dodger Stadium. With Vin Scully in his final weekend at Chavez Ravine and Clayton Kershaw pitching, the streams of my two favorite teams had to be crossed.

The Huskers (mostly) had this one in the bag by first pitch so I didn’t bother those sitting around us too much. However, I did have one nice Tourette’s moment when Newby fumbled into the end zone while I was standing in line for Dodger Dogs.

It was a little embarrassing but at least it made the line a lot shorter.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch

Mike went to Chicago, handled his business, and made some new friends.

Our Score Prediction

A little off on this one but at least Northwestern’s kicking woes made the 19 points we predicted for the Wildcats a distinct possibility. (Our scores are averaged from our pre-season predictions.)Had the Kitties scored another touchdown, there’s a good chance their holder who was upgraded to kicker after the starting kicker (who’s really a baseball player) missed a chip shot and a hit the upright on a PAT.

Thank You People Who Found This Amusing

Wildcats, starring Goldie Hawn and a very young Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes turned 30 this year.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

8,927: The number of potholes/divots/holes dug to China on the field. This is a true fact. I counted all of them.

.230: Northwestern kicker Jack Mitchell’s career batting average before he hung up the spikes to focus on kicking his senior year.  He’s currently batting .333 when it comes to making field goals.

9: The number of different Huskers who caught passes. (This might be a season high but I’m too lazy to look it up.) Stanley Morgan Jr. led the way with four receptions and Alonzo Moore had the biggest of the night when he hauled in a 59 yarder.

6.6: The Huskers’ average yards per carry was their highest of the season. (I looked it up.) Their lowest average was 3.2 against Wyoming.

132: Tommy broke his career single game rushing record and averaged a brisk 10.2 yards per carry. His previous record was 131 yards against McNeese State in 2014.

10: The number of batters Clayton Kershaw has walked in 142 innings pitched this season. His strikeout to walk ratio is 16.8 to 1.


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Protect ya Neck, Wildcats. The NU-Tang Clan is Bringing da Ruckus to You

Fine, Northwestern. You want to be known as the NU of the Big Ten, you can have it.

Even if you Wildcats haven’t been consistently average since the Pappy Waldorf era, those two little letters are all yours. From this day forward, the NU of the Big Ten that is able to boast five National Championships, three Heisman Trophy winners, and a sellout streak running 350 games strong will be henceforth be referred to around these parts as the NU-Tang Clan.

It’s long overdue that the squad that holds the distinction of being the most bad ass team in college football history does a Vulcan mind meld with the most bad ass group in hip hop history.

nu-tang-clan
As you may recall, when the Wu-Tang Clan broke out in 1993, the Huskers were just getting started of breaking off a 60-3 record over a five year span.

So now that we’ve successfully rechristened the Huskers, let’s take a special look at all the ways Northwestern is doomed on Saturday. Long story short, there will be no better tomorrow for the Wildcats. The NU-Tang killer D is gonna swarm and if Northwestern has any luck at all, the won’t experience all 36 chambers of death.

Look for Nate “Ghostface Killah” Gerry  to tee off on Wildcat QB Clayton Thorson if he gets cute and tries busting out his Taylor Martinez impression from last year.  But it probably won’t even come to that because Thorson will first have to make past Ross “Inspectah Deck” Dzuris” and Michael “Masta Killa” Rose-Ivey.

On the other side of the ball, Tommy “RZA” Armstrong Jr. will be leading the NU-Tang Clan to the promised land again and again. In his previous game at Ryan Field (a dump so bad it makes Staten Island‘s Fresh Kills Landfill look like paradise), he caught a touchdown pass from De’Mornay “U-God” Pierson-El out of sheer boredom.

Then there’s the fact that Jordan “Method Man” Westerkamp will have more friends and family in the stands than the combined total of the Huskers’ travel squad and the actual Wu-Tang Clan. The last time Westy played in the Land of Lincoln, the Huskers fell to Illinois and he had a hard time hauling in any of Tommy’s wind ravaged passes that fell out of the sky so expect him to have a big day in his final go around back home. Since he can’t catch all the passes Cethan “Cappadonna” Carter and Stanley “GZA” Morgan Jr. will be there to spell him.

After starting the season with three tight-ass performances, you can expect Devine “Raekwon” Ozigbo to anchor the rushing attack.

Finally, saving the best for last, Mike “Ol’Dirty Bastard” Riley seems to have found a new ruthless killer instinct during last week’s win over Oregon. If he still believes fortune favors the bold, look for the iced out uniform wearing Huskers to have this game on ice before halftime.

C.R.E.A.M.* get that dubby.

NU-Tang Clan – 31

The Other NU – 19

* Cornhuskers Rule Everything Around Me

Here’s your gameday jam. Just swap out the Wu-Tang Clan for NU-Tang when you singalong and you’ll be all set.


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A Brutally Honest (and Mildly Delusional) Preview from a Northwestern Fan

Editor’s note: Dave Williams, aka White Sox Dave from Barstool Sports, was kind enough to write up a preview of Saturday’s game from the perspective of a Northwestern fan. Along with the White Sox, Dave really is a Northwestern fan (who knew they existed?) so it wasn’t a stretch for him to write from his long-suffering heart. Give him a follow on Twitter for some great sports takes and to see how much it hurts to be a loyal fan of teams like the White Sox and Northwestern. Move to Trash

Take it away Dave…

I’d like to preface everything you’re about to read by first addressing the big elephant in the room: Yes, Northwestern has casual fans. My ACT score wouldn’t have been good enough to get into NU if you doubled it, (thought it would have been about twice as good as the average UNL student HA!) and I have a pretty poor grasp of the English language, yet here I am, donning Purple every Saturday representing Chicago’s Big Ten Team. Yes, we do exist. Being a White Sox, Bears and Wildcats fan, I live an awful life as a sports fan. That’s neither here nor there though…

Anyways, though Nebby has only been in the conference for a short time, I feel like the two schools are developing a decent little rivalry right now. Each game has been a complete and total nail biter, save for a 21point victory for Nebraska in 2014. In the other 4 contests, the average margin of victory was a miniscule 2.25 ppg. Like I said, nail biters.

For the sake of keeping this preview short and sweet, I won’t break down each previous contest, just outline the scores showing exactly how close these two teams have played each other the last 5 years:

2011: Northwestern tops 10th ranked Nebby 28-25 in the B1G first meeting between the two.

2012: Nebby tops NU 29-28 in Evanston

2013: Nebby tops NU 27-24 on a Hail Mary with 4 seconds left. I legitimately thought about tying myself to cinder blocks and jumping into the Lake Michigan

Because I’m a masochist and I’m writing a guest preview, here’s the video for you pricks.

2014: Nebby stomps NU 38-17

2015: NU beats UNL 30-28 in Lincoln

Anyways, here’s what UNL fans need to know about Northwestern.

What to watch for when NU has the ball:

Best players: RB Justin Jackson, WR Austin Carr, QB Clayton Thorson

Well, the offense kinda stinks. And by kinda stinks I mean it totally blows and other than Justin Jackson, no one is above average. There isn’t necessarily a lack of “talent” on the offensive side of the ball, either, as there are 4 star, nationally renown recruits at both QB, RB, and TE. But the Northwestern offensive scheme flat out sucks, the offensive line is garbage, and the wide receiving core is probably the worst in the B1G. RB Justin Jackson is a stud, and will wind up as NU’s all time leading rusher should he stay healthy, but if he can’t develop a rhythm behind NU’s porous offensive line, then the Cats will be in extreme amounts of trouble against UNL.

If Jackson can get a ground game going for NU, it should hopefully open up the defensive enough where Thorson can throw the ball down field and move chains.

Keyword there: hopefully. Other than against a brutal Duke team, that hasn’t happened yet.

What to watch for when Nebraska has the ball:

Best players: MLB Anthony Walker, S Godwin Igwebuike, DL Tyler Lancaster

NU defense hasn’t been great so far and it was supposed to be totally lockdown this year. If it weren’t for injuries, there would be multiple draft picks suiting up in every level of the defense against Nebby this week, however only one is: MLB Anthony Walker.

Anthony Walker was 1st team all B1G in 2015, 3rd team All American, and named to every preseason “watch” list for defensive players and a future high round NFL draft pick… but he hasn’t been great so far. It was recently disclosed that he had a knee injury that held him out of preseason camp for 2 weeks and that he wasn’t quite in game shape until last week, so he’s got the benefit of the doubt as of now, but he HAS to be the best player on the field when NU is on D for them to stand a chance this week.

NU’s defensive backfield is riddled with injuries right now, as their 2nd best defensive player and future NFL draft pick DB Matt Harris is out with a concussion, S Kyle Queiro has a shoulder injury and another starting CB, Keith Watkins, was lost for the year with an ACL. They have good depth in the defensive backfield, however, and depth that has legit starting B1G talent, so there’s not toooo much too worry about there. They just need to do a better job of getting off the field on 3rd down.

Special Teams:

Nobody cares about special teams, but Northwestern’s kicker has won like 4 games with last second field goals, he just can’t make them when there isn’t any pressure on him.

Game prediction:

It’s gonna be like a home game for Big Red and the atmosphere in Evanston will be electric, so I think the defense [Editor’s note: That’s really clever that you call that long ass grass “the defense.”] slows down UNL and the NU offense does just enough to win. Oh, and NU will have a pick 6 for a score after that BUM Tommy Frazier throws a ball off his back foot into double coverage. Ultimately, that will be the difference in this game

Cats 24

Huskers 21

Book it.

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View from the Boneyard: Northwestern

Ahh, yes. Northwestern. The team that the Huskers always seem to have oddly-close games that go to the very end. The team that fell victim to the Westerkatch. The team I always yell “Nerdwestern” at whenever we play them. Good ol’ Northwestern.

For this game, to go along with the alternate uniforms, The Iron N planned a shirt switch where students were told to arrive in red, and once the defense made their first appearance, put on a black shirt. On top of this, 6,000 Boneyard shirts were given out as students arrived to the stadium.

While I was super excited to hear about the plans, there was one problem: nearly everyone I sit with had to give out the shirts before the game.

My friend Bri (@brihoesing) and I, the two of us not responsible for shirts, arrived at Memorial Stadium before doors open and created our game-plan for saving two entire rows of seats despite only being two people.

There was one problem with our plan, though— Bri has two stress fractures in her foot and is in a boot. I had to pull this off on my own.

Luckily, it was an 11 am game against Northwestern and the Huskers had a 3-4 record, so there weren’t many people there to fight for spots. I found myself spreading out everything I could to stretch out over the rows: my sweatshirt, wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, new Boneyard shirt. Everything.

Bri eventually hobbled down the stairs and was able to help save seats, but we quickly discovered that spreading out our sweatshirts and everything else was going to make the windy 48 degree weather a joy to wait in.

With The Iron N’s directors helping with the shirt distribution, the marketing department needed help carrying the Go Big Red banner to the East Stadium student section. Normally, I’d count myself out as a candidate due to my lack of upper-body strength and my continued fatigue from mono, but when they bribed us with a free sweatshirt, I couldn’t say no. Everyone knows the best kind of sweatshirt is a free sweatshirt on a 48 degree day.

When it came time to actually carry the banner back and forth, I quickly realized that I was pretty much useless. But I was wearing a free sweatshirt, so at least I was useless and happy.

GBRbanner
The GBR banner is ready for action.

If there is one way to get today’s Husker fans on their feet and cheering, it’s bringing out the 1995 championship team during the Tunnel Walk. The student section was deafening with the arrival of the team, despite almost every student being in diapers when the team played, if they had even been born at all. But one thing’s for sure, they can all appreciate everything that team had accomplished.

The shirt switch had happened right away to start the first quarter, creating a sea of black Boneyard shirts for the annual blackout-the-student-section game. I know a lot of the more traditional Husker fans don’t really like the blackouts, but… come on. They look awesome.

The Huskers made it on the board on their first possession with a 43 yard field goal. Much like every other time the Huskers start out with a field goal, a sea of red balloons was released prematurely, causing a domino effect with everyone else that hadn’t released their balloons yet.

Northwestern responded quickly with a 1 yard run by Clayton Thorson, putting the Wildcats up 7-3. (Editor’s Note: Thank you for not mentioning his previous 68 yards.)

The mood in Memorial Stadium changed as Ross Dzuris sacked Thorson for a safety, in which the entire student section danced around with their hands clapped above their hands.

Both teams went scoreless until a pick-six caused the Wildcats to be up by 14-5 on the Huskers with 7:17 left in the half.

The Huskers didn’t take long to respond; a 10 yard pass to Brandon Reilly lead to Nebraska’s first touchdown of the game. Even though it was the first touchdown of the game, there was only a small handful of balloons released since everyone had jumped the gun earlier. Good job, guys.

During the second quarter, students were joined by the President of the University of Nebraska, Hank Bounds. Bounds posed for pictures as the Boneyard waved their flag and held up a fathead of him, which had been staring at me for nearly the entire half. Definitely not creepy, though. Definitely not.

president
This fathead was custom made. It’s not available at the campus bookstore.

Northwestern brought their marching band along for the trip and had them sit in their fan section. Naturally, I had to make a few dumb jokes about how they probably did that because they didn’t have enough fans to sit there, to which most people just rolled their eyes at me. Their band played songs from the Wizard of Oz and Wicked to start off halftime.

The Cornhusker Marching Band came out afterwards and had an entire set dedicated to classic karaoke songs. Nothing makes me realize how bad I am with lyrics like singing along to the marching band, but dang was it fun to scream-sing songs like Sweet Caroline and Livin’ on a Prayer with 89,000 of my closest friends.

The second half saw a lot more scoring, with a touchdown and a field goal for Nebraska and a field goal for Northwestern, putting the Huskers up 22-20.

If you’ve ever been to a game with me, you’ll know that one of my absolute favorite pump-up songs is Higher Ground by TNGHT. I’m sure you can only imagine my reaction to finding out that the Scarlets were dancing to it before the fourth quarter instead of the Huskers using the song to pump up the crowd in between plays. Kind of offended that my partner-in-crime Allison (@aliredredwine) and I weren’t invited on the field during the performance, because we put on quite the show when that song plays.

Normally, having a fourth quarter lead would be an exciting thing. After the past few years, I wouldn’t think twice about having a close game with Northwestern towards the end of the game, considering how close recent wins have been. But this season has conditioned me (and other fans, I’m sure) to not get too comfortable with anything once the final 15 minutes of the game come around.

Suddenly, a completed pass to Dan Vitale for 37 yards for a touchdown put the Wildcats up 27-22. A 27 yard field goal put them up 30-22. The familiar ending was near.

The Huskers answered on the next possession as Tommy Armstrong ran for 3 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 30-28. A failed two point conversion kept the Huskers from tying it up.

TommyTD
Tommy Armstrong scores his second touchdown of the day.

At this point, all anyone wanted was to keep Northwestern from scoring and get the Huskers to score something… Anything. These dreams were crushed as an unsportsmanlike conduct on Nebraska gave Northwestern the automatic first down, allowing time to expire.

Fans poured out of Memorial Stadium as the final seconds ticked down. Feeling defeated, I felt it necessary to scream at the Northwestern team to ask them if they remembered the Hail Mary from two years ago. Got ‘em.

Let’s just hope this team likes playing against road games enough to beat Purdue next weekend.

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

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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Northwestern Edition

Just when you thought it was safe to assume the Huskers had stopped finding new and cruelly inventive ways to lose, the Big Red laid their biggest egg of the year with a mind boggling 28-30 loss to Northwestern.

The game summed up in two gifs.

DwEoXpx
Hans Moleman does his impression of any Husker receiver trying to catch a pass.

Sad-Cornhusker
The speed at which unbearable anguish turns grudging acceptance of one’s fate is incredible.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: Mike’s balloon is now a flaming pile of monkey poo ready to explode.

Mike Riley Poop Balloon

In case you didn’t notice, Back to the Future was in the news a little bit this week for some reason or another. One of the signature gags in the 2015 Marty visited in Back to the Future II, was that the Jaws franchise had worked its way up to a 19th installment.

Back to the Future 2 Jaws 19

As someone who saw BTTF2 in the theatre back in 1989, I can say with good authority that it was a legitimately funny moment because just two years earlier, Jaws: The Revenge delivered the franchise down to Davy Jones Locker and the thought of 15 more Jaws movies was even more preposterous than the idea of the Cubs eventually winning another World Series.

Should the time ever come where Universal gets bored with making Fast and Furious movies and decides to dust off Jaws, they could pick no better team to write films  5-19 than Mike Riley and his coaching staff. In the span of just eight games, they have shown they are the absolute masters of finding new ways to terrify an audience week in and week out.

It’s still too early to give up on these guys but you’d think that after eight games they’d start correcting the problems (pick a problem, any problem) that have been there since the season opener.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

30: More plays the Huskers ran than Northwestern.

21: Jordan Stevenson‘s longest kick return of the day and career so far. His still smoldering red shirt is not going to waste.

18:04: The Huskers’ time of possession advantage over Northwestern.

10.04: How many seconds it took for Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson to sputter 68 yards in the first quarter. By comparison, Taylor Martinez‘s 92 yard touchdown run at UCLA in 2012 took 10.92 seconds and he coasted the last 20 yards.

10: The number of different Huskers who, believe it or not, actually caught a pass.

7: The 1995 Huskers’ average yards per run.

6.06: The 2015 Huskers’ average yards per pass with the 1995 squad in attendance.

2: Number of times Andy Janovich carried the ball for a total of for yards.

0: Number of times Devine Ozigbo, aka the running back of the future three weeks ago, carried the ball for a total of 0 yards.

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Sorry, Northwestern. It’s Time For a Vintage Husker Ass Whoopin’.

Northwestern, you had a good three year run as a brainy thorn in Nebraska’s side but know this: last year’s 38-17 throttling on your home turf was just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s high time you accept the fact that your rightful place is down in the dregs of the Big Ten as the purple clad Wildcat that gets an annual beat down from the Big Red.

Christian Peter Huskers
It was really nice of the Big Ten to ensure that the Huskers would still be able to pummel some purple every year just like the good ol’ days of the Big 8/12.

Speaking of good ol’ days, the 1995 Husker squad, aka the greatest college football team in the known universe will be in attendance to celebrate the fact that 20 years have passed since they graced us with their presence on the gridiron. Just the fact that they’re assembled within the same area code as Memorial Stadium is good for at least two bonus touchdowns for the Huskers.

Tommie FrazierThe over/under for the number crab legs Tommie Frazier would take down was set at 62, as in 62-24. Don’t ever think Vegas doesn’t have a sense of humor.

With Mike Riley finally taking down his first legit opponent as head coach of the Huskers last Saturday, he got his first taste of Big Ten blood just like C. Thomas Howell in Red Dawn.

And if that wasn’t enough, we have it on semi-good authority that Coach Riley is ditching his Mister Rogers persona like a prom night dumpster baby for something with a little more attitude thanks to the help of Killer Mike from Run the Jewels.

Killer Mike and Mike Riley
Killer Mike and his new protege Killer Mike Junior.

In other words, you’re doomed, Northwestern.

Granted, you little Wildcats had a nice win against Stanford in the Nerd Bowl and looked pretty impressive blanking Minnesota but you’re coming in to Lincoln just when things are starting to click for the Huskers. The offense is starting to remember what it’s capable of and while the Blackshirts might still be more than a little shaky defending the pass, they at least remembered they too can catch passes and score touchdowns of their own.

And if that wasn’t enough bad news, Northwestern, one of your dozen or so loyal fans had to go make a video that proves Evanston truly is the place where Ivy League rejects find refuge.

Northwestern should really be thankful that Andy Janovich and Jack Gangwish probably haven’t seen this.

That revisionist history lesson was so much worse than Dick Cheney‘s recollection of Iraq War Numero Dos that we were forced to reply via the Twitter just to set the record straight on Cabbage Patch Kids and parachute pants. Seriously, WTF?

Look for Tommy Armstrong to run wild against Northwestern like it’s 2014 all over again.

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Recap: Huskers Make Wildcats Grumpy, Husker Fans Stay Grumpy

After a frustrating first half filled with near misses, the Huskers fired on cylinders for the final 30 minutes, scoring 24 unanswered points and neutering the Northwestern Wildcats to the tune of a 38 – 17 final score.

Defibrillators were pulled off standby (for at least one year anyway) as the Huskers romped through the 4th quarter. While last second Hail Mary drama is always exciting, an almost relaxing and cathartic win is welcome anytime.

Following the game, the Husker Athletic Department pointed out that the Big Red had clinched a bowl berth for the seventh consecutive year under Bo Pelini.

However, Joshua Brixius was far from sold on the idea that the Husker Athletic Department would actually know where the team stood with regards to bowl eligibility. He was so confident with calling out their lies that he didn’t even have to do any research for confirmation.
Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 7.54.13 AM

Boom. Posted on Facebook and in your face, no nothing Athletic Department.

At least Joshua was gracious in being clarified.

The other big story in the game was the Huskers second half adjustments (or lack of) depending who you believe.

Huskers Adjustments

In his post game comments, Coach Pelini said his team didn’t need to make too many adjustments for the second half. They just needed to play better.

Playing better is technically an “adjustment.”

The other angle that Loren doesn’t grasp is why would any coach in his right mind use his post game press conference to diagram exactly what his team changed in the second half? You gotta keep those details close to the vest, my friend.

The biggest adjustment of all came late in the first half when the Huskers suddenly found themselves down 14 – 7 with under two minutes to play.

Two plays, 56 yards, and 30 seconds later Tim Beck called a new play called Texas.

Faced with a quarterback lacking touch on passes under 40 yards and his most reliable receiver riding a four dropped ball streak, Coach Beck called the play any sane and rational offensive coordinator would dial up at 1st and 10 on your opponent’s 16 yard line.

His touch lacking QB handed the ball of to the Heisman contending running back who then flipped it to a speedy but otherwise unproven Freshman wide receiver who then threw a perfect strike to his quarterback who was heading towards the end zone all alone.

So to recap, when your quarterback can’t throw, and your receiver can’t catch, you have your receiver throw to your quarterback.

Makes perfect sense.

And it makes us think that Texas was just a codename for a play called “The Ultimate Fuck You Adjustment.”

We can’t wait to see what Coach Beck draws up next.

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