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Song Girls vs Scarlets: Your Holiday Bowl Preview

It’s fitting that the epilogue to the crashed and burned Bo Pelini era at Nebraska will be written on the same field as his career’s finest moment- the 2009 Holiday Bowl.

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Things would only be downhill from here for Bo Pelini.

What followed that 33 – 0 victory over the Arizona Wildcats was the most hopeful time of Pelini’s seven seasons at Nebraska. It was the perfect salve to the one more second debacle against Texas and had Husker fans licking their chops at a run for a National Championship in 2010.

That season began with the Huskers ranked #8 in the polls and unknown redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez lined up in the shotgun at quarterback. His jaw dropping speed lead the Huskers to a 5 and 0 start and a national coming out party for Martinez in a Thursday night match up against Kansas State on ESPN.

Nine days later, the wheels would fall off the Big Red Express when the unranked and hated Texas Longhorns  came to Lincoln and left with a 20 – 13 victory. In that game, the Huskers’ offense was absolutely stuffed with the lone touchdown coming off a 95 yard return of a pooch punt late in the game by Eric Haag. Martinez was benched as senior and 2009 starter Zac Lee entered the game for a rare appearance.

In retrospect, all the the negative aspects that would be a hallmark of Pelini’s tenure bloomed on that day.
Texas Commentary
(Screengrab via Huskermax.)

A month later, Pelini’s temper would take the national stage as he gave Martinez the ass-reaming of his life against Texas A&M. By Sunday night Martinez was already enrolled at UCLA (if message boards were to be believed).

A month after that, Martinez and the Huskers limped through a 19 – 7 loss against Washington in the Holiday Bowl- the same Huskies team that Nebraska destroyed 56 – 21 back in September.

Fast forward four years. Taylor Martinez is a mobile game developer and budding real estate agent (thanks for the hook up, Uncle Warren) and Bo Pelini has packed up for the gloomy pastures of his native Youngstown, Ohio.

At the helm for the Huskers in Saturday’s Holiday Bowl is the much maligned Barney Cotton. After the game, he’ll leave the Huskers (for a second time) for his new gig as UNLV’s Offensive Coordinator. With the exception of John Garrison and Charlton Warren, the futures for the rest of Pelini’s staff are up in air. The seniors have one final game together and the underclassmen will likely finish their careers as Mike Riley’s players.

About the only thing left for the Huskers to play for is pride. Pride for their team. Pride for their teammates. Pride for their coaches who deemed them worthy of playing for Nebraska.

Pride can be a dangerous weapon, especially with a healthy Husker squad and an offensive coordinator off his leash.

Scouting Report: USC started the 2014 season with a 52 – 13 win over Fresno State. Two weeks later, the Huskers muzzled the Bulldogs 55 – 19 while USC lost on the road to Boston College 37 – 31. The Trojans’ three other losses came at the hand of Arizona State, Utah, and UCLA. Their crosstown showdown was the only game the Trojans lost by more than a touchdown, falling to the Bruins 38 – 20, a game in which the USC defense got flustered and all but gave up in the second half.

The Trojans’ most notable wins of the season came against Stanford, Arizona on the road, and a 49 – 14 punch out of the Fighting Irish at home. In case you’re wondering, they did beat Mike Riley’s Beavers 35 – 10 in LA. Like the Huskers, the Trojans have the potential to run with anyone- if they can harness it.

The Trojan offense is lead by junior Quarterback Cody Kessler. He can sling the ball but he isn’t exactly fleet of foot having “rushed” 52 times for -149 yards. On the season, he’s been sacked 30 times.

An immobile quarterback has to have Defensive Coordinator John Papuchis licking his chops, right?

John Papuchis
Confidence is high for Papuchis.

USC may have the better team on paper but the reality is there is truly only one edge the Trojans have on the Huskers heading into the Holiday Bowl.

Song Girls vs Scarlets
Sorry, Scarletts. All the glitter in the world is no match for the simple white sweaters that are a trademark of the USC Song Girls.

And that’s about all the “serious” preview you’ll get from us.

In our defense,  we did reach out to our friend Mick, an LAPD Sergeant and quite possibly the Trojans biggest fan. Seriously, he’s “The Dude” of USC football right down to his tattoo of Tommy Trojan holding the severed head of Notre Dame’s mascot whilst standing on the beaten pulp of UCLA’s Bruin.

This is the entire transcript of our chat.

Hey Mick-

What is your prediction for the Holiday Bowl and who are the USC players the Huskers need to watch out for?

Let me know and I’ll quote you in my preview for my site www.bigredfury.com

Mick- We ARE.. SC! Beat the Huskers!

Before we even had a chance to even think of being offended by such an epic brush off, we realized Mick had to already be in San Diego making his tailgate preparations and had no such time for silly questions. We’ve been his guest at USC games a few times over the years and aren’t kidding when we say he’ll show up at 6am to stake out his tailgate spot for a game that doesn’t start until 7pm.

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Mick and your humble author at the 2006 edition of USC vs Nebraska.

Ideal Scenario: The Huskers close out the Bo Pelini era with a bold exclamation point with a fun and dominating performances on both sides of the ball reminiscent of the 2000 Alamo Bowl- arguably the Big Red’s most fun bowl game of the 21st century. A Kenny Bell to Ameer Abdullah touchdown pass would be absolute gravy.

Look for Tim Beck to empty his playbook with enough #TommyBombs to reenact Operation Linebacker I and II. That is of course when Ameer isn’t running wild on the Trojan defense.

On the other side of the ball, Randy Gregory and Jack “The Beastmaster” Gangwish will pin their ears back and give Cody Kessler a late Christmas gift of a world of pain. USC may get a couple of deep balls early but don’t be surprised when Papuchis stays calm under pressure and readjusts once he realizes no one is going to scream at him on the sideline.

Honestly, this game could go either way with a blowout for either team being the most likely outcome. It’s hard to imagine the Holiday Bowl going down to the wire so we’re gonna stick with our way early prediction of a 38 – 17 Husker victory.

Over/Under on Angry Bo Close Ups: 3 — ESPN will surely start the game with a montage of Bo’s “finest” moments.

Question That Needs an Answer: Will Barney Cotton finish his Cornhusker head coaching career undefeated?

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Bye Week: Basking in the Doom and Gloom of Other Fans

You know what’s awesome?

I just did a Google Image search for sad Michigan State fans and the Google machine spit back of a treasure trove of sad Michigan fans. Apparently, sad Michigan State fans are nowhere to be found on the internet.

This photo though is priceless.

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Was this poor Wolverine’s left eye already bloody or has the pepper spray caused him to cry tears of blood?

With the Huskers enjoying an unprecedented second bye week, today is a great day to sit back, relax and enjoy watching other fans’ seasons come to a screeching and catastrophic halt.

With  our local Husker watch site also being home to an Ohio State alumni group, I’m very tempted to go watch their big showdown with the Spartans just so I can watch a dear Ohio friend possibly have a meltdown. I know it’s not exactly “classy,” but you can rest easy knowing she’d do the same for me.

While Los Angeles is far, far away from being a college football town, all of us idiots who moved here have helped turn every sports bar into a United Nations of college football. Walk into any place on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll see groups of fans from at least a dozen different schools huddled around their respective TVs. It really makes for a great scene.

And like Survivor, unexpected allegiances will form.

When Michigan lost their season opener Appalachian State at home way back in 2007, everyone in the bar who wasn’t maize and blue stopped what they were doing to watch Michigan’s last second field goal attempt get blocked.

Never has there been such joy in the anguish of others.

Then again, 2007 was such a dark time for Husker Nation that fans actually stopped watching games in public. On that day against Nevada, there were exactly four of us in red squinting at a 12 inch TV bolted to the ceiling at an bad angle. When your team is Bill Callahan bad, you get banished to the little TV.

By 2009, our in-public attendance had improved but we were still dwarfed by the highly organized LA chapter of the Texas Exes during the Mack wants another second put back on the clock game. Our numbers were bolstered late in the game by Alabama fans who stayed around after their game ended just to help root against fucking Texas.

The all-time best though was the Huskers’ comeback against Wisconsin in 2012. Early in the second half, a dozen or so Ohio State fans sauntered upstairs to our “private” room at our watch site. Without even acknowledging the odd looks they were getting, they grabbed seats wherever they could. A trio sat down at our table and promptly ordered shots of Fireball Whiskey for the table.

“Hi, we’re here to cheer for you guys just so you’ll be ranked higher when we beat you next week. ”

And that was that. For the rest of the game, they cheered on Huskers and marveled at the “Go Big Red” chant.

To their drunken ears, it sounded like Sloth yelling “Heeeey Yooouuu Guuuys” which is exactly what they shouted when a Go Big Red faded out.

Gotta love college football.

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What games to watch on a Husker-free weekend

The Huskers will be enjoying a weekend off (aka Nebraska’s fall wedding weekend) so that means there’s an absolutely golden opportunity to revel in the misery of others without the risk of having to join all the other losers in to the cesspool of defeat.

Before you spend an entire Saturday on the couch watching strange teams easily making all the plays the Huskers can never seem to make, we can’t stress enough the need to make an appearance with wife and kids (if applicable) and make a noticeable dent (no matter how small) in household duties that have gone neglected since August 30th.

Pick a game or two and enjoy a stress free-weekend.

Georgia at Missouri
11am (all times listed at Runza Time)
CBS

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After their Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley was suspended due to being ratted out by a jilted autograph dealer, the Bulldogs turn to true freshman Nick Chubb (best name for an unproven backup ever) to lead the ground attack. And Missouri has… wait… who really cares about anything Missouri does? Root for Georgia in this one.

Texas vs Oklahoma
11am
ABC/ESPN3

Beat-Texas

The Sooners travel to Dallas for their annual Red River Rivalry showdown with Texas. The game has always been a little off-putting in the sense that it’s like your favorite cousin going to a big invite only blow out party with the half of his family you’re not related to. Once you get over the FOMO, sit back, relax and watch that favorite cousin do the Lord’s work by kicking the crap out of the Longhorns.

Oregon at UCLA
2:30pm
FOX

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OK. This one hurts. It’s like being back in time eight weeks before the events in Sixteen Candles take place. You’re Samantha sitting at the geek table in the cafeteria watching a hunky blond version of Jake Ryan having a sweet and playful tickle fight with his longtime girlfriend Caroline (bet you didn’t know that was her name). For some sects of Husker Nation, the day Oregon goes Ice Princess on Scott Frost can’t come soon enough for Nebraska would welcome him back with open and loving arms. Then again, that’s what was promised for Bo Pelini. And if we remember correctly, Husker Nation didn’t react to kindly to a guy who originally chose Stanford over Nebraska’s finest land grant institution. Even without factoring in what UCLA did to Nebraska the last two seasons, you want Oregon to win this game just to keep Michigan State’s strength of schedule up. All the better if they can do it with Marcus Mariota having a sub par day. And on a final note, any college that plays 25 miles (a two hour drive in LA) off-campus can suck it.

Alabama at Arkansas
5:00pm
ESPN

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The only attractive part of this game is Bret Bielema’s wife and she’s bat shit crazy. Cheer for neither team but hope Alabama loses in a gruesome manner so that everyone is happy and little angels get their wings.

Mississippi at Texas A&M
8pm
ESPN

FLAG

You want Ole’ Miss to lose to ensure playoff chaos and I want them to lose because I’m still bitter about wasting two hours of my life watching The Blindside. Note to aspiring actresses: If you ever want to win an Oscar, simply do your best Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich impression. It worked for Sandy. Just don’t invite your cheating-with-a-white-supremacist-stripper biker husband to the ceremony. And seriously, fuck any team that can make Texas A&M’s militarized fraternity scene look almost sane and rational.

USC at Arizona
9pm
ESPN2

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The Wildcats are enjoying their best season since 1994 when they were named Sports Illustrated’s preseason number one and a U of A sweater warmed the terrified shoulders of Sandra Bullock in Speed. Cheer for Arizona in this one. For another Wildcats win will add to the suffering of Michigan fans and add to the dysfunctional chaos that is USC’s football program. And not to worry, Zona will have plenty more chances to derail their so far perfect run.

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Special Report: Can a Bloke Get a Go Big Red in London?

As the dark cloud of season ruining doom settled over Husker Nation the morning after the McNeese State game, I was enroute London on business.

Being stuck on a WiFi-less plane for 11 hours is a great way to forget about a lousy game, though Ameer Abdullah’s catch and run was certainly worth a fourth quarter filled with stress eating and palm sweat.

The first order of business after touching down in ol’ Cockaigne was seeing if I could run into a Husker fan or at the very least someone who knows the appropriate response to seeing a pasty goon walking down the street with Herbie Husker on their torso is to say Go Big Red.

Big Red in the Big Smoke
Nothing says out-of-towner like repping your favorite team and carrying a man purse.

I set off from the hotel wearing my most scarletest Husker shirt. In all honesty, had the Big Red lost to McNeese State, this shirt would have stayed at home. No need to drag shame across the pond.

Here’s a glimpse of how things went down. Sadly, not a single person lost the ability to contain themselves at the sight of Herbie Husker.


The Clash didn’t write enough songs to cover all the video that was shot.

But…

Later in the day I was served a cold, hard reminder that no matter where you go in the world, a Texas fan will come crawling out of the woodwork.

I was on (or is it in?) the Tube minding my own business when a guy in a well worn Texas Longhorns cap sat down directly across from me.

We made eye contact and instantly locked in a stare down. Potential topics for smack talk flashed in front of my eyes like a college football Terminator.

“Put any time back on the clock lately?”

“What’s it like being the worst team in Texas?”

“Did BYU really put up 28 points in the 3rd quarter?”

Across the aisle, the Texas fan was doing the same thing. Seeing him mouth the words “Is this the year the Big Red finally beats Minnesota?” was a dead giveaway.

In the end not a single word was exchanged. We were like a couple of forgetful gun fighters running into each other on a dusty street. We both had the want to take the other one down but not the means.

It’s funny how a few years of college football mediocrity will that. Trading barbs would have just been a thermonuclear race to the bottom, pulling bandages off wounds that were still a little too fresh.

Here’s hoping that next time an epic smack talk war will be waged across the pond.

One can only imagine the stuffy British heads that would turn.

 

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From Quietly Dignified Fandom to Unabashedly Sniveling Gloater, the (de)Evolution of Husker Passion.

It’s strange the way simple pleasures can evolve when following a football program like Nebraska’s. As a child of the 1980s and 1990s, I used to luxuriate in the ample amounts of respect bestowed upon my beloved Huskers — whether it was from opposing coaches and fans or sports commentators during broadcasts — their vocalized respect always made my chest swell with pride.

But the Huskers don’t get much of that lately. Back in the day, 75% of Nebraska’s slate resigned itself to losing from the get-go. Some even considered “winning” the coin-toss a nice pre-slaughter gesture. Sadly, over this last strange decade, all that veneration has disappeared into the dustbin of history. Most teams no longer expect to lose to the Big Red. Hell, I’ll bet more than a few Cowboys down at McNeese State are thinking — make ‘em turn the ball over four or five times and we’ve got a shot!

But, with the new-found bravado Husker opponents have shown in the prospects of upcoming clashes with Nebraska, a new form of satisfaction has evolved for me in watching NU play. And that’s seeing the stunned silence from opposing fans when the Huskers pull off something amazing.

It’s the same chagrin Steve Spurrier displayed during the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. A thing of beauty precisely because Spurrier was part of that rare species back in the 1990s — the opposing coach who thought he had better than even odds against the Huskers. When Spurrier’s mirage was officially bisected by a galloping Tommie Frazier, the broadcasters treated viewers to a savory display of recompense the likes of which I’ll never forget.

Phases of spurrier

For the record, I don’t have anything personally against Steve Spurrier — the magnificent chief Cock that he is. But the sight of a smug, Coors-drinking bastard getting his hat handed to him was rare during the 1990s dynasty because the low expectations many of Nebraska’s opponents held never produced much hubris. So, ironically, one of the fruits of a lowered bar for Nebraska football is that now we get to see opposing fans (with the full assumption of a win in their pockets) shit bricks more often.

Assuming that many of you readers are like me — once quiet and dignified followers of a college football titan, now sniveling jealously in the shadows of our once-great reputation, I’ve gone ahead and assembled a gallery of some of my favorite screen shots from the past few years. This is the new simple joy our program bestows us: watching opposing fans react to something they just can’t believe.

Here a Texas fan finds her asshole tighten to a million pounds per square inch at the prospect of the Longhorns losing their BCS Championship bid at the hands of what essentially turned out to be the greatest performance of Ndamukong Suh’s collegiate career.

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Oh, were it not for that horse-collar tackle!

Here Taylor Martinez has just mesmerized a cluster of incredulous K-State backers, dashing past a slew of Wildcats and beating them to the end zone by 15 yards.

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Another amazing touchdown run by Martinez forces this Washington Husky fan to cover his eyes.

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And finally, this may look like a typical, mouth-breathing Georgia good ole boy, but — in fact — this man’s jaw is hanging a little more slack than usual thanks to Tommy Armstrong’s 99 yard touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa.

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I hope these sufficiently whet some appetites for seeing a few more stunned opponents in 2014. Personally, I hope to add some Spartans, Badgers and Hawkeyes to the gallery next time this year. Go Big Red!

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