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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: Troy

Does losing to Troy suck?

Yes.

Am I mad about losing to Troy?

Eh, not really. 

It feels weird to type that because any and every Husker loss is supposed to be an end of the world gut punch but this year feels different, even if it starts out with a big pair of scarlet L’s that should have been W’s. 

It’s 11:45pm and I’ve spent the last hour charting Husker wins and losses because that’s what you do when you’re old. You make spreadsheets on a Saturday night and you’re happy about it because it means you didn’t have to go anywhere. 

Going from today all the way back to the year 2000, the Huskers have lost 85 games under five different coaches. At this point what’s the big deal about chalking up another loss? Granted, 85 losses is such an unbelievably high number that I was convinced Excel’s auto sum feature was lying to me. I added up nearly 20 years of losses by hand twice only to discover that Excel was right on the money when it spat out the brutal truth.

To put this another way, this year’s freshman class at Dear Old Nebraska U has been alive to experience 85 losses. When I stepped on campus as a freshman, the Huskers had amassed all of 40 in my lifetime. When I stepped off campus five years later, that loss total had grown to 46 but they also picked up three National Championships during that stretch and changed head coaches for the first time in 25 years. 

What does all this mean?

It means that the latest crop of Huskers fans have never known a team to be good in the sense that us old-timers have.

During the game at our watch site, I had the slightly depressing epiphany that I’m officially old enough to be old. It hit me when the youngest Husker fan at our table replied with a Keanu level “Whoa” when he learned I attended college back in 90s. I felt like my grandpa spinning yarns about life before television as I explained to the kid there was indeed a time when the Huskers didn’t lose. “We didn’t have cell phones or email addresses but goddamnit the Huskers were good.”  

By the time I was finished, the kid was in such awe that his breakfast pizza with gluten-free crust was left dangling from his mouth. 

No matter how this season shakes out, I think the best thing us olds can do is keep an optimistic front for the youngins that the Huskers will eventually find a way to get better. They have to. We finally landed the one coach who knows our wild and weird culture better than anyone and if we turn on him before he has a chance to get rolling we might as well disband the football program. 

It’s ride or die time, homies. 

Random (and Potentially Unpopular) Opinion:

This week’s Tunnel Walk was set to Let Me Clear My Throat. If we want to exorcise this team of all its past demons, then we need to delete the definitive song from the Mike Riley era off the stadium playlist. Sorry, Dj Kool.

Troy Summed Up in one Tweet: 

Larry the Cable Guy: Voice of Reason 

ScoFroFroYo Watch:

Imma paint a little picture for this week’s ScoFroFroYo Watch.

Hours have passed since the final whistle against Troy. The roar of 90,000 Husker fans inside Memorial Stadium has long faded away. The only sound to break the ghostly silence is a big red bus idling outside the stadium. (For the purposes of this story, the bus is large enough to fit the entire team and Coach Frost is pulling double duty as the driver.) 

An unmarked stadium door opens and a dejected Husker team begins to file out and head towards the bus with their heads hanging low and eyes focused on the ground. Coach Frost is the last one to board and slides into the driver’s seat. He takes a quick glance at his team but he doesn’t make eye contact. He only looks at them out of his obligation to not leave anyone behind.

He slips the bus into gear and it jumps forward to begin the journey home.

After a few minutes, the dejected player’s faces begin to brighten as they see the glow of a TCBY sign off in the distance. The anticipation builds as the bus moves closer and reaches its crescendo when Coach Frost flips the turn signal to indicate a stop for yogurt is imminent. 

He begins to turn the wheel and the bus responds accordingly. Then, with the deftness that only an option QB who led his team to a National Championship could have, he jukes the bus out of the impending turn into the TCBY parking lot and continues on its original course. 

As the players look out the window and watch the TCBY fade off into the distance, Coach Frost clinically looks at his team via the rear view mirror and says, “TCBY is for winners.” 


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Sunday Night Hot Takes: Colorado

Welcome to the first installment of Sunday Night Hot Takes for the 2018 season.

Like we do most every Sunday, what will follow is an assortment of random thoughts both deep and not so deep, I guess you could call those shallow thoughts.

Anyway…

How the game began… 

With 100+ Los Angeles Husker fans packed into our new watch site and huddled around each other’s phones because ABC insisted on showing whatever stupid game that came before it all the way to the bitter end.

The game finally came on just in time to catch the Huskers looking pretty good until they fumbled the ball away near Colorado’s red zone.

No worries. It’s the first game. This stuff happens. And then it happened again on their next drive and just like that Colorado was out to a 14-0 lead.

But then something magical happened.

The Huskers responded by rattling off an eight play, 75 yard touchdown drive. And that was only the beginning.

Over the course of the next two hours or so, a lot of laughs were had, many high fives were slapped, and more than a few rounds of drinks were ordered as all of us watched in awe as the Huskers imposed their will on the Buffaloes.

It was shaping up to be a magnificent Saturday.

How the game ended… 

It’s hard to be encouraged by what would normally be a soul crushing last minute loss to a former bitter rival but when you factor in:

It was the first game of the season under a new-to-the-players coaching staff.

True freshman Adrian Martinez stepped onto the field for his first real game in two years. While he looked like a true freshman at moments, he also looked like a world beating 5th year senior. He’s going to be a lot of fun.

The Killa Bees had SEVEN SACKS. Not to beat a dead horse that was buried months ago but last year’s defense had 14 sacks all season.

Colorado received more gifts from the Huskers and the refs than a Kardashian on Christmas and they still had to dig deep into Ralphie’s ass to pull out a win.

The mistakes that were made should all be easily correctable. I have a feeling there won’t be too many more dropped touchdown passes.

Larry the Cable Guy: Voice of Reason 

What I’d like to see next week: 

Adrian Martinez back on the field.

Andrew Bunch, aka Bunch Money, have a chance for some playing time that’s not due to injury.

The running back situation begins to sort itself out. It felt a little like they were holding an in-game audition on Saturday.

The Killa Bees force their first turnovers of the year. A couple of pass breakups should have been caught.

New Feature: Did the Huskers Earn a Postgame Trip to TCBY? 

For the last three years, our signature gag to sum up the state of the Huskers was Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch.

We had a few glorious ones, like the day after Michigan State had their run at a perfect season derailed by a miraculous comeback.

But in the end, all that mattered is how Riley left the program he and his staff inherited.

Now that we have FHCMR’s last appearance out of the way, it’s time to unveil our new feature.

Say hello to the ScoFro FroYo Watch.

The ScoFro FroYo Watch can be explained like this: If you happened to be a frozen yogurt enthusiast who lived in Grand Island during the early 90s, you had a better than average chance of having a weekend Scott Frost sighting at the TCBY located next to the Grand Island Mall. The guy loved himself some TCBY and so did I. As someone who grew up in GI during the early 90s, a trip to TCBY was an event right up there with Taco Tuesday at Taco John’s.

I still get goosebumps just thinking about the heart stopping  suspense when my mom would call to ask what the daily flavors were.* You could live a thousand lifetimes in that moment of silence. If they told her White Chocolate Mousse was on the lineup, my brother and I would be in the car before she hung up the phone.

[*You see, kids, back in the early 90s, there wasn’t an “internet” to look things up on and yogurt places didn’t off a magical rainbow of made up flavors. You got to choose between vanilla or something else and you were happy.]

So the question is: Did the Huskers earn a trip to TCBY?

You’re damn right they did.

This team is a full 180 from last year’s squad and outplayed the shit out of Colorado. If the Akron game wasn’t canceled, there’s no way they would have lost. By the time this four game series wraps up in 2024, the final tally will be Colorado 1, Nebraska 3.

While the Huskers did earn a hard fought trip to TCBY, it’s not a celebratory trip. As the team enjoys their frozen treat, I imagine there would be a candid and productive discussion about how to use this loss as a lesson to learn from so that it never happens again.

And while they earned the yogurt, they did not earn sprinkles. We’ll save those for when they return from the Big House with a win in a couple weeks.


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Know Your Opponent: Colorado

A few years from now when we look back on this game, we’re not going to remember the start of the Scott Frost era being rained out.

We’re going to remember the Scott Frost era beginning with a vintage Big 8 style ass whoopin’ of the Colorado Buffaloes.

Here’s everything you need to know about Colorado in handy listicle form…

Remember them? Apparently Colorado still has a football team. They play in the PAC 12 these days which makes sense considering Boulder is 1,000 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Coach: Ditch digging must not pay like it use to because they found someone to take this job.

Offense: They scored more points than Colorado State last week and their fans have been bragging about it so they can’t be that good.

Quarterback: No idea but I did spend the last 45 minutes watching Ndamukong Suh truck Cody Hawkins over and over and over again and it’s still hilarious.

Defense: Colorado State hung 13 points on them so they should pretty be a sieve against the Huskers. (And looking up that score is the most research I’m doing for this preview.)

Famous Alumni: That kick return bro who was a better skier than a football player and Kordell Stewart, the greatest Colorado QB to go 0-3 in his career against the Huskers and lose his job as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting QB to Tommy Maddox.

Tommy Maddox is one of three people on Earth to have won an XFL Championship and the Super Bowl. His football skills are so sought after, he now coaches high school baseball.

Celebrity Score Prediction: Comedian Nick Allen says…

Nebraska 62, Colorado 36. Revenge. This one is for Frank.

Catch Nick Saturday night at the Comedy Loft in Lincoln’s Haymarket.


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How to Smoke Weed in a Dorm Room and Not Get Caught

Nothing says off-season like waking up on a Saturday morning to find out a Husker has been busted for something stupid.

And the stupid isn’t necessarily the act, but sum of all parts.

Today it was revealed that another football player was cited for having a small amount of that wacky tobacky. Two things to note: 1) If you’re a Husker fan with a pulse, you should know who I’m talking about. 2) I’m not naming names because the last thing these kids need is another google search result. And besides, we’re not thirsty for clicks.

Without sparking a debate about the alleged dangers of smoking marijuana, the reason why it’s now legal in varying degrees in 29 states (including Alaska and Montana so you can’t say it’s just the damn hippies) is because people have started to figure out that it’s not exactly the devil’s weed you learned about in health class. It’s not that dangerous.

Granted, there’s that odd occasion where you run into your rock star buddy (who gets his weed from the same source as Snoop Dogg) in a Trader Joe’s parking lot and next thing you know you’re wandering the aisles for the next hour and roll up to check out with a cart full of nothing but an empty bag of chips and a tub of guacamole that’s been scraped clean. The biggest danger in that situation is coming home and facing the wrath of your lovely wife after you went to the store and plum forgot to buy groceries, even though she gave you a very detailed list. Not that I ever did this.

Here in LA, marijuana use is so ubiquitous that you can catch whiffs of the sticky icky wherever you go in public. It’s kinda like being back home in my native GI but instead of the stench of burning carcasses from the meat packing plant, you know someone nearby is smoking weed but you can’t tell who since everyone is staring at their phones. In fact, if you called the police to report such a thing, they will laugh at you and hang up the phone.

But back in Nebraska, the campus police will show right up if an over-eager RA thinks someone in their dorm has lit up a doob.

The best advice my dear mother has ever given me is that something is only illegal if you get caught.

So with that in mind, here’s how enjoy weed in your dorm room and (most likely) not get caught.

1. Know thy neighbor. Are they cool? As in do they know and respect the unspoken rule that snitches get stitches? Even squares can be cool enough to look the other way but a snitch can never be trusted.

2. Embrace modern innovations. Weed pens and edibles might not be as exciting as pulling a monster bong rip in while sunk deep into a bean bag chair but they sure are stealthy. I don’t know if dabs are easy to find in the Cornhusker state but I do know it’s pretty easy to fly the friendly skies with a stash of edibles in your carry-on bag. Just make sure to you peel off any incriminating labels before traveling with your snacks.

3. Dryer sheets are your best friend. If lack of the aforementioned modern innovations means you have to smoke weed the old fashioned way, stuff a bunch of dryer sheets (your mom put a box into your laundry supplies) into a paper towel tube and exhale your ginormous hit through a tunnel of static cling prevention. There will still be smoke but it will smell April fresh and you don’t have to worry about it wafting out the door because you already laid down a damp towel, right? Do these two things and you’re going to have to try really hard to get caught. This technique never failed in an entire year of #dormlife.

And this is where I’d like to point out I didn’t mention air freshener because if you’re not smart enough to know that one on your own you shouldn’t be smoking anything.

The best part about taking this photo was my wife asking what I was doing. For maximum performance, use an empty roll and wrap an additional dryer sheet around the end to keep the ones packed inside from fluttering out.

4. Chill, bros. Watching Wheel of Fortune while being high enough to solve the puzzles before Pat Sajak even drops a clue is exciting shit, especially when half your floor is packed into your dorm room but keep the volume to a manageable, polite level. When you’re doing something illegal, it’s best to not do anything that draws attention.

5. Keep your stash stashed. If you you ain’t using it, keep it hidden. I knew a kid in the dorms who always left his bong on his desk and often kept his door open for visitors. Or for campus police officers doing a random walk by.

6. Don’t ride dirty. Wanna make a Chipotle run now that you’ve got the munchies? Leave your contraband at home. Better yet, DON’T DRIVE ANYWHERE. Take a walk and make it an adventure or hail an Uber if you’re too lazy to hoof it. Or, you could stay in and order a pizza and pass out with a slice in your mouth and spend the next two hours eating it at glacial speed, while watching a documentary about N.W.A. on VHS. Not that I ever did this.

BONUS TIPS

Lincoln has long been rumored to issue more citations for public urination per capita than any other city in the US. This could have something to do with all the people who duck into alleys off O Street to pee after last call.

The key to peeing in public is to not look like you’re peeing. That means you don’t want to strike your urinal pose in front of a dumpster. Instead, be causal and pretend you’re talking on the phone and operate your gear with your other hand. Just be careful that you don’t dribble anything on your shoes, especially if you’re wearing flip flops. 

Ladies, I have no advice for you. Sorry.

Don’t apply for a job at Blockbuster Video. They drug test and instead of doing urine samples, they do a hair test which is impossible to beat.

Yes, that was a real thing college students worried about back in the 90s.


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One Thing Nobody Has Mentioned About That Music City Bowl Tweet

Shortly after it was announced that the Huskers would resume their bowl game dominance over the Tennessee Volunteers in Nashville’s Music City Bowl, the bowl’s official Twitter account revealed which team it’s pulling for in a tweet that boasted not one but four exclamation marks.

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As we all know, this turned out to be a social media boo-boo straight out of 2011. Remember when Chrysler dropped an F-Bomb in a rant about Detroit drivers?

The person behind that one was quickly fired.

Luckily for the thumbs behind @MusicCityBowl, it sounds like their job is spared based on the candid mea culpa that quickly followed.

But let’s go back to the errant tweet for a closer look.

Aside from the fact that there are “social media professionals” who are as bad at using Twitter as your grandma, the tweet itself contains quite the loaded statement.

“At least my team will be in our Bowl game this year!!! go vols!

Based on the capitalization of ‘Bowl’ and ‘vols’ in lowercase, it’s clear this was a rather hastily composed thought that was sent via Facebook. (Seriously, who still connects their accounts like this?)

Then there’s the juicy bitterness of  “At least my team will be in our bowl game…” 

If that doesn’t scream college-football-fan-who-had-his-or-her-season-wrecked then I don’t know what does.

Let’s breakdown the hell the Volunteers have put their fans through this season.

After a 5-0 start that featured back-to-back wins over #19 Florida (a 28 point 4th quarter comeback that cost me a five team parlay) and #25 Georgia (a 20 point 4th quarter comeback that ended with a ridiculous Hail Mary) the wheels completely fell off Tennessee’s wagon. Over the next three Saturdays, the Volunteers tumbled from #9 all the way out of the top 25.

First there was a double-overtime loss to #8 Texas A&M (remember when they were ranked?) followed by a 49-10 dismantling by Alabama. This three week stretch of doom was capped with a 24-21 loss to South Carolina. (Does anyone even know who their coach is these days?)

Tennessee picked themselves up off the mat and crawled back into the top 25 thanks to a nice little win streak with victories over SEC softies Kentucky and Mizzou and pulled out a 55-0 squeaker against FCS juggernaut Tennessee Tech.

Then came their season finale against Vanderbilt. The Commodores sailed away with a 45-34 upset victory,  just their sixth win over the Volunteers since 1965.

And they play each other every year.

There’s not even a way to put a loss like that into context for the Huskers. If you combined the historical ineptitude of Kansas with our growing hatred for Iowa, you’d only be scratching the surface of what the Tennessee – Vanderbilt rivalry is like. It certainly doesn’t help that Vandy has won three out of the last five games either.

If you go to the Music City Bowl and someone asks if they can take your picture for the Twitter, offer them a hug. There’s a good chance their team has put them through much, much worse than how the Huskers have tortured us this season.


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It’s Already Been a Week?

The best part about being your own boss is dictating your own schedule.

A week has passed since the Huskers ended their regular season by getting taken to the woodshed by Iowa and I’m only writing about it now because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to deal with thinking about that damn game.

A season that started with so much hope and promise flat out belly flopped on the Kinnick Stadium turf. (Writing that sentence alone is giving me a serious TUMS craving. Or maybe that’s the box of cereal I had for lunch.)

Out of the Huskers’ three regular season losses, losing to Iowa by far hurt the worst and not just because it was stinkin’ Iowa.

Coming up short in overtime in a winnable game against Wisconsin stung but proved the Huskers were ready to compete with anyone in the Big Ten, for at least a week anyway.

Getting blown out 62-3  by Ohio State seven days later showed there was plenty of room for growth before being able to compete with every Big Ten team but the thing about getting trucked like that is that sometimes it’s just your turn to get eaten by the bear to paraphrase The Stranger from the Big Lebowski.

Losing to Iowa, though, was a whole new level of ugly, like getting farted on during a lap dance in a Council Bluffs strip club kind of ugly.

There was no justifiable reason for the Huskers to have even have been in a situation where that could have happened but everything that could wrong did go wrong, starting with Bad Tommy coming out to play.

Side story time…

My good buddy Marc joined us at our local Husker bar to watch his first ever Nebraska game on purpose.  He’s a die-hard USC fan and for the last three years our Dodger season tickets have been a couple rows behind his and his father’s. Marc’s meltdowns are the stuff legend in our section. He let it be known well in advance that he was looking forward to seeing myself and fellow Big Red Fury writer/Dodger fan, Leslie Micek, get heated like he does when the Dodgers blow an 8th inning lead.

Thanks to the Huskers laying an egg from the get go, our level of outward rage didn’t peaked at “disappointed grandpa,” which, if you’ve ever disappointed your grandpa, you know is the worst kind of rage. That I’m-so-mad-I-can’t-even-talk-to-you kind of rage that makes you question your very place on this Earth.

Our lack of conversation gave Marc plenty of time to observe the Huskers. He fit right in too, even yelling “holding” right on cue with everyone else who noticed penalties that the Big Ten refs are seemingly blind to.

Marc’s big observation involved the lack of creativity the Huskers’ offense.

1st down: Get stuffed with a run up the middle.
2nd down: Swing pass to the sideline that goes nowhere.
3rd down: YOLObomb that lands in a green sea of empty turf.

At one point Marc sincerely asked us if Tommy always played like he did against Iowa and how much worse the Huskers backups had to be if they weren’t getting any PT.

After explaining that Tommy was basically playing on one leg and how the holder was the emergency third string quarterback, he simply shook his head in awe that we’re able to saddle up Huskers week in and week out.

It’s what we Husker fans do. Ride or die, ya know.

On to the usual stuff…


Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch
mike-riley-flaming-pile-of-poo
Oh how we didn’t miss you, flaming poop emoji.

Our Score Prediction

Honestly, I should have known the Huskers were going to be doomed thanks to the random drunk Jedi. I only wanted Chewbacca in the video but he insisted they worked as a team so I gave him $7 thinking they’d split it like a couple of Hollywood Blvd’s Spider-Men do. When we were done filming, which took exactly as long as the video above, he asked for his cut. I told him I only had a buck left and that’s all I could give him so homeboy had the audacity to pull out a Square credit card reader and had the balls to ask for $20 for his performance.

The last costumed weirdo to pull that move was a Captain America before the Miami game last year and we know how that one turned out.

You’re dead to me, Chewie.

What a Husker crowd looks like after Iowa has walked most of the room.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

I don’t even want to look. Enjoy this courtside view of the Husker basketball team instead. They didn’t look to bad against UCLA.


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The Best of #IowaHateWeek

While the Big Ten rivalry between the Nebraska and Iowa is still in its infancy, Husker Twitter is doing its best to make it happen with #IowaHateWeek.

Since the final whistle of the Maryland game, zingers have been lobbed over the Missouri River 140 characters at a time.

Before you get your classiest fans in college football panties up in a bunch, keep in mind that #IowaHateWeek is all in good fun and it’s all funny because it’s all true.

Solid and timely. Next time use a current photo of Memorial Stadium though ; )

Who says millennials  contribute nothing to society?

(Oh wait. This tweet was probably written by a member of Generation Z. Haha, Millennials. You’re getting old.)

Props the Big Red Cobcast dudes for using a $5 word like celestial.

ProTip: Use 0s instead of Os to make a password stronger.

That last query is due to this…

That is a real newspaper headline and it led to this…

Good ol’ Iowa. Terrified by the guy who ate 1995 Tommie Frazier.

This one goes out to my brother and his family.  We visited them for Christmas last year and the most fascinating thing about Des Moines was that Iowa’s largest city boasted not one but TWO video stores and they were BOTH hiring.

If you get punk’d by a squirrel, give up.

This one gets self-promoted solely on the basis of how much work it was to hit Google Image Search gold and find an Iowa fan using a computer.

The most disgusting part of that photo is the black and yellow overalls. Such a horrible combo.

I hope drunk stepdad gets a shirt for Christmas.

Lil’ Red threw so much fire his suit got a lil’ melty.

So dumb. So perf.

We’ve ALL dated Iowa.  And speaking of crazy chicks, you definitely want to swipe left if you run across this felon on Tinder.

Marvel at Iowa City’s best worst criminals by scrolling through the Iowa City Crime Report and you’ll be convinced Iowa is the Florida of the Midwest.


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Say Hello to Maryland, the Huskers’ Next Victim

It seems like the season was just getting started and now the Maryland game is here.

By late afternoon, Memorial Stadium will fall silent. The Sea of Red won’t roar again in Lincoln until 2017.

The final home game of the season marks the very first time the Huskers will be squaring off against the mighty Terrapins. If the Big Red can somehow manage to beat a team that was also edged out by Ohio State 62-3, they will notch their ninth win of the season and finish with a perfect home record for the first time since 2012.

Will it be Tommy Armstrong Jr. who gets to lead the Huskers to victory one last time in front of the home crowd, or will it be Ryker Fyfe who gets to lead the Huskers to victory for the first time?

Since that question probably won’t be answered until kickoff, let’s focus on the week’s important drama for a moment.

What the hell happened to the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy?

Brandon Cavanaugh has a great breakdown of this travesty in the making on his site Eight Laces.  93.7 The Ticket all but confirmed it’s gone forever and a Change.org petition has been started to bring it back. You can add your name here.

It’s a total bummer to see the best trophy game in the Big Ten go away so unceremoniously. The biggest sign of all that it’s donezo is that there has been nary a peep from the Huskers’ Twitter account, which never passes up an opportunity for some sweet meme action. The ignore-it-and-hope-goes-away silence is deafening.

If the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy really is retired, why not at least auction it off and have the proceeds go to charity? That would make Nebraska’s budding rivalry with Minnesota really worth something. (Assuming the trophy hasn’t already been chucked in a dumpster in the dead of night.)

Alright, let’s get back to Maryland.

Look, the Terrapins don’t boast a 5-5 record due to an overabundance of skill.  Their players can’t even go on a BB gun rampage without getting arrested. You think those geniuses will be able to contain DPE? Heck no. If the Blackshirts can contain the turtles’ running game, they should be in good shape to get the win even with Larry the Cable Guy taking the snaps.

The Huskers’ game plan on offense should be to let the running backs take care of business and only throw the ball to seniors standing wide open in the end zone. Do you realize Brandon Reilly hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since hauling in the game winner against Michigan State last year? Let’s get him another one at home before he leaves us.

Huskers 45
Maryland 23

BONUS CONTENT: If you end up sitting next to a Maryland fan, here are some things to know about The Old Line State

Crab Cakes are basically Maryland’s corn and Runza rolled into one. Do not speak ill of Crab Cakes unless you’re itching to start a fight.

Six Marylands could fit comfortably within Nebraska’s borders. Its wacky shape helps hide the fact that it ranks #42 in land area, coming in just ahead of Hawaii.

On the flip side, Maryland’s population density is nearly 25 times higher than Nebraska’s. To put that into perspective, Nebraska’s population would have to swell to 46 million people to achieve the same density. That might help explain why everyone in The Wire was so angry all the time. There’s no breathing room.

Finally, the state motto of Maryland is “Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine” which literally translates from archaic Italian to mean “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” Extra bonus points for you if you can work that into a heckle.


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An Open Letter to Husker Nation

Dear Husker Nation,

What a week it’s been, huh? Between the uncertainty of Tommy’s health and the future direction of this county, it’s a chaotic time to be a Husker fan.

If you’re already starting to dread where this is heading, please, hang in there. Yes, this is going to be a departure from what’s usually found around these parts but there will (hopefully) be a point to all of it.

This is the third season that Big Red Fury has been around. I originally started it on a lark as a way to showcase the ridiculous things Husker fans say on the internet, hence the name. If you enjoy reading the comments section of a hot take more than the hot take itself, this mission statement would have been right in your wheelhouse.

Unfortunately (and for the better) that focus didn’t even make it to the mid-point of the first season. My obsession with our favorite team soon overcame my juvenile desire to anonymously mock those whose opinions and insights I didn’t agree with or thought were dumb.*

This pivot (which nobody noticed because no one was reading this site in the beginning) was the start of something good. Already this season we’re on pace to reach 50,000 page views (dating back to August 1) by the end of the month. That’s a very small drop in the Husker bucket but a solid improvement from all of last season which barely crossed the plane of 30,000 views.

What I want to focus on though are the 228 Husker fans that @BigRed_Fury follows on Twitter. Since it hatched, Twitter has been either a useless distraction or an incredibly useful tool. It all depends on what you make of it.

Of those 228 people, I personally know maybe 50. The rest are folks I’ve gotten to know only through 140 character glimpses.

While the sample size may be be small, those 175 or so Husker fans are a remarkably diverse group of women and men scattered throughout all corners of the US with a few living abroad. In the long days between games and excruciating months between seasons, @BigRed_Fury’s timeline is a window into the daily lives of mostly anonymous strangers. From afar, I’ve sympathized with struggles, celebrated achievements, and developed an appreciation for whichever Kansas City Royal goes by Moose.

For the past few months, and more than ever this week, that same timeline has been an endless stream of political discourse along every inch of the horseshoe. There’s been joy and rage and everything in between. Those same 175 Husker fans are just as diverse politically as they are in the TV shows they tweet about.

But you know what’s really fascinating?

For a few hours a week all that chatter goes absolutely silent.

Not so coincidentally, this phenomenon occurs only when the Huskers are playing.

I expect this trend will continue tomorrow when the Huskers take on Minnesota. During the game, and I swear this is as political as I will ever get on a football site, please take a moment to appreciate how 90,000+ fans can pack into Memorial Stadium every single gameday and rally together to celebrate one thing they all love and hold dear, no matter their personal background or beliefs. If all those Husker fans can have at least one thing in common, there’s a good chance they have a few more too.

The Sea of Red has always meant so much more than everyone got the memo to wear red.

It’s a powerful symbol of spirit and pride that has no peer.

You know how all of us in Husker Nation relish the chance to buy an opposing fan a beer or invite them to join our tailgates?

Take that same attitude apply it someone into your daily life. That Facebook friend you’ve been arguing with all week? Invite them to get coffee. I bet you would have a blast bickering over Starbucks’ new red cups in person.

Each and every one of us are so much more more than the opinions and clickbait articles we share with our social networks. The sooner we remember that, the sooner we’ll feel this country of ours take a step back from the ledge that we’ve been led to believe its standing over.

I don’t have the same opinions as those 175 Husker fans I superficially know through Twitter and the same would certainly apply the other way around. One thing I know for sure though is that I’d love to drink some beers and watch a game with every single one of them.

Because  that’s what Husker Nation does on gameday. We have a good time… unless we’re playing Wisconsin or Ohio State.

That is all and Go Big Red.

*ps: While I haven’t felt the need to roast him much this season (thanks, Omaha World-Herald paywall) Dirk may never wiggle off the hook of mockery but it will always be in good fun. Mostly ; )

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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.


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