Tag Archives: purdue boilermakers

Ah crap. You mean there’s a game tonight?

Confession time.

I’ve been a bad Husker fan this season.

I started out with plenty of hope and was looking forward to a dozen chances to hang with friends, eat some snacks, and continue cheering on the first team I ever cheered for.

To say this season has been a bumpy ride is an understatement. My favorite highlight of the year so far has been last week’s bye week. It was a blissful Saturday, completely free of disappointment and pain.

Tonight though, we’re back onboard the suffer train.

When I checked the time for kickoff yesterday, I assumed the marquee matchup of the Huskers vs Boilermakers would get the 9am slot for us West Coast fans but the Big Ten had to go and schedule it against the World Series. It was shrewd move on their part to ensure as few people as possible put their eyes on a slap fight between a Western Division doormats.

Still, when the clock strikes 4:30, I’ll tune in like I always do. Because that’s what you do when you’re a Husker fan.

You show up during good times and bad.

At least until the World Series starts.

BOLD PREDICTION TIME

Mike Riley is spared the indignity of walking home from West Lafayette  as the Huskers use their bye week to their advantage and overcome their underdog status to beat Purdue 28 – 14.

ICYMI

Moments before Clayton Kershaw took the mound in game one of the World Series, this commercial for YouTubeTV aired on Fox. Nothing like seeing the Huskers used as punching bag by Ohio State. Again.

CAN THE HUSKERS’ INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT PLEASE GET A NEW CATCHPHRASE? 

Lock in was clever the first few times but now it’s as played out at one of Dirk’s hot takes. Let’s change it up. Please.


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Sunday Evening Hot Takes: Purdue Edition

If there’s ever a Husker game you have to miss, go ahead and circle Purdue as a bonus bye week.

The Huskers’ 27-14 win over the Boilermakers started off with a bang thanks the combo of Kieron Williams pulling down an interception game’s opening play that was immediately followed by a 22 yard touchdown run by Tommy Armstrong Jr. on the Huskers’ first offensive snap.

From that moment, the game devolved into a somewhat stressful snooze fest. This is a match up that no one, including the Huskers, seems to care about. Our local watch site, Sycamore Tavern (formerly known as The Happy Ending) was nearly as empty as it was last year when the 3-6 Huskers limped into Ross-Ade Stadium with Ryker Fyfe under center.

sycamore-tavern-crowd
This is the bulk of the crowd that turned up to cheer-on their top 10 Cornhuskers.
Husker Fans
Same spot last year when the Huskers’ season a reached rock bottom not seen since the days of Bill Callahan.

Even Husker super fan and co-host of the Big Red Cobcast Ryan Tweedy (buy his movie, yo) had “better” things to do.

The biggest takeaway from the latest chapter of this not-so-storied rivalry that gives national media giggle fits is that these Huskers simultaneously have the ability to find a way to win (somehow) while being able to incite mass hysteria among their fans.

I don’t want to say I was planning on the worst when Purdue went into their locker room with a 14-10 lead at halftime but I did spend the break stress eating an ice cream sandwich the size of a Personal Pan Pizza.

Let’s hope these last two weeks are nothing more than a mid-season lull as the players and coaching staff couldn’t help but be distracted by what looms ahead.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch

Mike Riley Happy Balloon
Mike won a game he had no excuse to lose and never went for it on 4th down so we’re back to the good ol’ regular happy balloon.

Our Score Prediction

Kudos to OG Fanny Pack Spider-Man. He’s been the only costumed weirdo this season to take enough pride in his work to insist on multiple takes.

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

1,680: For the most fleeting of moments yesterday, the Huskers were on pace to hang 1,680 points on Purdue. Then the Boilermakers figured out it’d be better if their quarterback threw the ball.

98: Out the 239 points the Huskers have scored so far this year, 98 have come in the 4th quarter. And it’s probably worth mentioning that Husker opponents have scored a grand total of 13 points in the final period.

7:22: The Huskers’ 4th quarter time-of-possession advantage.  Their TOTAL advantage for the game was 6:38.  Last week against Indiana, the Huskers held the ball for 11:16 of the final period. If the other team can’t get the ball it’s going to be really hard to score. This is a brilliant strategy.

8: Eight different Huskers caught the ball Saturday afternoon and none of them were named Westerkamp or Carter. Hopefully they’ll both be back soon.

9: With his one carry for one yard performance, Mikale Wilbon has matched his total rushes from last season with nine. So far, he’s gone for 75 total yards at a brisk 8.3 yards-per-carry.  (Last season he was good for 35 at 3.9). Maybe by the time he’s a senior he will no longer be a mystery wrapped in an enigma.


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Sorry, Purdue. Mercy is For the Weak

What a difference a year makes, huh?

The last time the Huskers and Purdue Boilermakers squared off, Nebraska imploded worse than Donald Trump’s campaign. In a decade and a half that has been riddled with soul crushing and mind boggling defeats, losing to a horrible, even by their low standards, Purdue team 55-45 was easily the worst of them all. At least with the 70-10 loss at Texas Tech back in 2004, you can chalk that one up to the perils of Joe Dailey trying to run the West Coast Offense.

Side note: If your head is spinning because Donald was mentioned in a light less glowing than his complexion, feel free to substitute the Los Angeles Dodgers in the above analogy. I went to all three of their NLCS home games and spent two evenings that were far from very pleasant or good watching them play their worst baseball of the year at the absolute worst time. It has not been a good week.

OK. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to Purdue.

As you probably heard, their coach, Darrell Hazel, was kicked to the curb following the Boilermakers’ 49-35 loss against Iowa last weekend. Hazel went 9-33 in three and a half seasons and racked up a grand total of three Big Ten wins His teams took down Illinois (twice) and notched their signature victory at the expense of the Huskers.

Side note #2: The family that has seats next us at Dodger Stadium includes an Iowa alum. (I swear, these people are inescapable.) After she told me about Northwestern ruining her homecoming trip back to Iowa City, she took great joy in the fact that the Hawkeyes were able to regain a shred of dignity by being just bad/good enough to get a coach fired. She was so happy.

Well, apologies in advance to whoever (Gerad Parker, I guess?) is calling the shots for the Boilermakers today. You’re going to be in for a long miserable afternoon that will leave you questioning every life decision you’ve ever made.

You see, the 2016 Huskers aren’t the same sad sacks of confusion and disarray you  played last year. These guys are ranked #8 in the country and are on a mission to roll into Madison undefeated next week. You Boilermakers are just a diversion to kill the time until next week’s main event.

The best case for this game is Mike Riley shows no mercy and gets this one over by halftime. Then, he unleashes Ryker to finish the job.

We’re talking a full 30 minutes of sweeping Boilermaker legs.

riley-ryker-karate-kid-copy
Mercy is for the weak, Ryker. Remember what they did to you last year.

I don’t know about y’all but my heart and psyche can’t take the stress of a tense Husker game immediately followed by playoff baseball two Saturdays in a row. Let’s have some laughs and a few hours of fun today.  (And don’t even mention what’s still technically possible for next Saturday.)

Huskers win this one 41-17.


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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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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Purdue Edition

As Purdue closed out the third quarter by scoring their third unanswered touchdown to go up 42 – 16 , this Huskers’ season reached a turning point.

If you stuck it out to the end to see the Big Red almost steal a victory with a 29 point fourth quarter, congratulations. You are not afraid to go down with the ship.

Yesterday’s game was 3 hours and 45 minutes of gallows humor at its finest. If there was a scene in Titanic where some rapscallions from steerage said F-it and broke into the liquor storage instead of trying to escape,  that would have been the prefect summation of what it was like to watch this game in an empty bar where the staff outnumbered us Husker faithful who showed up for our weekly gut punch. (And no, the scene with the Brandy sipping Guggenheim does not count. He was far too classy.)

Hats off to Ryker Fyke. Dude played his ass off and made up for running game that didn’t make the trip to Indiana by throwing for over 400 yards and leading the Huskers to 45 points but with the Bankshirts getting torched worse than Thích Quảng Đức, his heroic effort was all for naught.

At the rate things have gone so far this season, it honestly won’t be surprising if the Huskers somehow end up rolling Michigan State next Saturday. 

On to the assorted random stuff!

Headlines if the New York Post covered Husker football

Huskers step in big pile of Purdue-do

The Huskers’ Season is Pur-done

Purdue or do not. There is no try. (The Huskers did not try.)

Boilermakers run a train on the Huskers

Mike Purrriley Won’t Be Purring Over Losing to Purdue.

Our Score Prediction

Purdue Score Prediction
Left the house dressed like a champion and couldn’t have been farther off-base with the final score. Get your own “Gamer Tee” at Nebraska Red Zone.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: We have reached DEFCON 1.

Thermonuclear Balloon

Sam Mckewon: Throws absolute hot fire in his post game video. It is a performance for the ages and is a must watch.

Oddest Paragraph In Dirk’s Post Game Column About a Road Trip From Hell: Suddenly it’s 2:30, your iPhone is dead, your wife forgot hers and the baby is waking up. Another turn. Wrong. Another turn. Wrong. 

Uh… Dirk, not keeping a phone charger in your car is just bad planning. You can get one for $8.99 and extra lightning cables are just $5.99. C’mon, buddy. You’re better than that.

And this leads to…

Important Piece of Life Advice #1: Even though you’ve been invited to a friend’s annual Halloween party for five years running, always take a moment to actually read the Evite to save yourself and your lovely wife the hassle and embarrassment of getting all dressed up, slogging through traffic for an hour, only to arrive in beautiful downtown Burbank to discover that the party happened the night before, on Halloween Eve. Lucky for us, it wasn’t a total surprise to our friends that I would pull such a move and they invited us in help them put a dent in the leftover party fare which included scarfing down a container of Jell-O shots.

Important Piece of Life Advice #2: Don’t skip dinner and hope that whatever nutrients are found in a container of Jell-O shots will be an appropriate substitute.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

31,351: The announced attendance at Ross-Ade Stadium which holds 62,500.  Yeah, right. Check out all the empty seats.

55: This was Purdue’s highest point total since they took down Indiana State 56-35 back in 2012. The last time the Boilermakers hung 60 or more points on a team was when they put up 62 against Indiana in 2008.

50: Back in the 1994 Matt Turman game, the Huskers ran the ball 50 times for 168 yards against Kansas State and three-yard-and-a-cloud-of-dusted their way to a 17-6 win on the road. Yesterday, the Huskers ran 22 times for 78 yards with Andy Janovich accounting for all of 2 yards on a pair goal line carries. This was the first time the Huskers have been held to under 100 yards rushing this season.

10: Purdue’s ten point margin of victory was the largest for any of the Huskers’ opponents this season. The next closest was BYU and a Hail Mary that led to a five point blowout. With Purdue’s win factored in, the Huskers’ average margin of defeat has ballooned to  3.83 points.

Even with the annual blowout or two factored in, the last four seasons under Bo Pelini, the Huskers’ average margin of defeat was 11.75 (2014), 16.25 (2013), 21 (2012), 19.75 (2011).

6: The number of Los Angeles fans who had the courage to step out into public to cheer-on the Huskers at our local watch site. We nearly cracked double digits when a UNL professor in town for a visit arrived with her son and daughter-in-law. She teaches leadership at Husker U. and had some great insights about how much work it really is to change the culture of a team but she still doesn’t like to see the Huskers losing how they are.

Husker Fans
Back when the season was still full of hope, this place was standing room only.

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Recap: A Steaming Pile of Purdue-doo

Let’s count the ways things did not go the Huskers’ way against Purdue-

Ameer gets taken out of the game (and possibly longer?) after he gets crushed by his own lineman trying to recover a botched snap on 4th and goal from the Purdue one yard-line.

(Feel free to count snap issues and goal line inefficiency as individual problems if you are so inclined.)

Roommates Tommy Armstrong and Jordan Westerkamp were on the wrong page to the tune of two interceptions.

A Blackshirt  interception turned fumble essentially gave Purdue eight downs from inside the Huskers’ 30 yard-line.

True freshman kicker Drew Brown missed his third field goal in four attempts.

Now let’s count the ways things went right-

After all the offensive, offensive miscues, pulled boners, and Tim Beck over-thinking, the Huskers still won handily.

The Blackshirts held Purdue to 14 points the same total the Boilermakers notched against Notre Dame. Don’t forget they hung 31 points on Michigan State.

Two blocked punts.

Bo Pelini got a sideline penalty and it wasn’t due to taking a swing at an official!

When a 21 point victory over Purdue can feel like a loss to Iowa State, you gotta take a step back and admit that’s a good problem to have when moving into November with an 8 – 1 record.

As frustrating as the game was to listen to (for the record, I still haven’t watched a single highlight), it’s hard to get that upset.

Nine games into the season, we still haven’t seen this edition of the Huskers at their best and we certainly haven’t seen them at their worst. The pendulum has swung in both directions all year long without reaching one extreme or the other. If you think they reached a new low against Purdue, congrats on having a very short memory.

Will playing above average with spurts of greatness and stupidity be enough to beat Wisconsin in Madison? Who knows?

November is shaping up to be an entertaining month so sit back and try to enjoy the ride as best you can. There aren’t many teams that can claim to have an equal chance at making the playoff as making the Meineke Car Care Fight Hunger with Pepperoni Pizza Bowl.

**On a completey unrelated note, the Purdue game was the first time I listened to a Huskers’ radio broadcast from pre-game to post-game in its entirety since Ball State was a missed field goal away from an upset in Lincoln.

Video streaming didn’t work so well out in the middle of nowhere but Greg Sharpe and Matt Davison came through crystal clear. (The only trick is using the TuneIn Radio app rather than the unfortunately unreliable official Huskers app.)

FullSizeRender
This was our view during the game.

Greg and Matt really make a great team. Greg deftly rides a fine line between the legendary Kent Pavelka’s I’m-about-to-have-an-aneuyrsm  level of enthusiasm and professional polish, balanced out by Matt’s nuanced observation and appropriate level of dread when needed.

If you’re ever in the mood to kick it like it’s the 20th century, give those guys a listen sometime.

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Purdue Or Do Not. There Is No Try.

For the second consecutive year, we’re going to be away from the comforting bosom of our neighborhood watch site on Purdue weekend.

In 2013, the Huskers traveled to West Lafayette and rolled an 1 – 11 Boilermaker team 44 – 7 in a game that was decided well before halftime. It was a great, stress free Saturday, especially the part where I was able to venture out of the tiny bubble of free hotel lobby WiFi and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the beach.

This year we’ll be in nestled in the mountains in the new age hippie paradise of Ojai (with a requisite side trip to the nearby premium outlet mall).

In a season where the Huskers have been rolling, the Boilermakers come to Lincoln with a semblance of momentum and the proverbial elephant in the proverbial room looming larger than ever.

That elephant would be the Huskers’ seemingly annual crapping of the bed against a lousy team. With that in mind, Purdue’s visit suddenly adds suspense and anxiety to the mix. It’s like Husker Nation is one big traumatized family on pins and needles when they realize it’s been far too long since dad has come home piss drunk. A Husker meltdown is imminent. It has to be.

Or does it?

Confidence: Like any woman who has ever thought she could change her man,  the Huskers are wearing their new look and attitude well but have the potential to regress back to their old losing habits in a heartbeat. (Then again, that could be the years of psychological damage talking.) If Nebraska can get through this one with a W, they just might have turned a corner for both the season and the program.

Scouting Report: Purdue, the Indiana university that is neither Indiana or Notre Dame, is located in Tippecanoe County. Tippecanoe, as we all know, translates to “place of the succor fish people.” In our hearts, the Boilermakers will always hold a special place for ensuring Kansas State’s dream season of ’98 had a nightmare ending.

KYLE ORTON PURDUEIn Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer, distinguished Purdue alum Kyle Orton explained how he wore number 18 as a tribute to Brook. It’s amazing how one little anecdote can instantly make a guy unhateable.

More seriously though, Purdue is a 3 – 5 team the Huskers can’t treat lightly. A week after Nebraska manhandled Illinois, the Boilermakers bumped off the Illini 38 – 27. They followed that up by playing Michigan State to within a touchdown until Boilermaker QB Austin Appleby threw a game sealing pick six with 1:29 to go.

The pessimist could look at that and conclude that the Spartans aren’t that good and Purdue is better than Nebraska. We’ll go out on that fragile limb of optimism and say Michigan State played poorly because they were still rattled from their oh-so-near miss against the Huskers the week before.

Long story short, Purdue is finally starting to click. Check out Hail Varsity for all the stats to back up that statement. Then again, they’ve also lost to Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Ideal Scenario: The Huskers cruise into their bye week ahead of their big showdown with Wisconsin. Ameer, Kenny, Tommy and Randy all do their Ameer, Kenny, Tommy and Randy things. I don’t resort to hiding from my wife by holing up in a premium outlet bathroom stall and faking the worst dump of my life just so I can watch a too-close-for-comfort game in relative peace and agony.

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 5 — Don’t expect the ABC/ESPN/SEC Network faction to cut him any slack, especially with Ed Cunningham in the broadcast booth.

A Question That Needs an Answer: Will Imani Cross ever score again? He hasn’t notched a touchdown since the Illinois game a month ago.

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