Tag Archives: ucla

Sunday Morning Hot Takes: UCLA Edition

If the first thing you did when you woke up this morning was check the box score from the Foster Farms Bowl, don’t worry.

You weren’t the only one who did that.

It wasn’t a dream. Nebraska really did run wild against UCLA and came away with a 37-29 victory that was equal parts fun and gut-wrenching anguish.

Even when the Big Red was trailing 21-7 midway through the second quarter, Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf stuck to their game plan* and continued to pound UCLA like Rocky slugging a side of beef. It was a glorious sight to behold as the Huskers chipped away at the Bruin defense a few yards at a time and rattled off 30 unanswered points.

UCLA finally replied early in the fourth quarter with a quick and methodical secondary shredding strike to pull within 8 points but that would be it. A missed field goal and absolutely clutch end zone interception by Chris Jones would seal the Bruins’ fate. The Huskers finally ran out of new and cruel ways to blow it at the end.

*Let’s Talk About That Game Plan: No doubt this next week will be full of think pieces and talk radio jibber jabber about how Riley and Langsdorf have finally found the light when it comes to Huskers’ offensive identity. Were these new look Huskers the result of a philosophical sea change or was it something as simple as Coach Riley checking his twitter mentions while enjoying a complimentary omelet at the Embassy Suites?  Could an endless stream of eggs imploring him to run the football actually have enough sway to make him throw UCLA a change up for four quarters? It would be amazing if that were the case. If there was one thing message board coaches got right this year it was the need to run the football.

Three Quick Wishes For 2016…

1) The Return of Tommy Legstrong: Tommy ran for 305 fewer yards in 2015 (400 vs 705). Splitting the difference in 2016 would be gravy.

2) A Lockdown Secondary (or at least one that isn’t consistently beaten): UCLA’s 60 yard bomb in the second quarter looked eerily similar to other times the Huskers were repeatedly scorched on the deep ball throughout the season. Then, when the Bruins started to rally in the fourth, they ran the exact same screen pass 4 or 5 times. The only variation was flipping the formation to the opposite side of the field one time.

3) A Nickname For Nate Gerry: Here are a few that come to mind… Jailhouse Rock, The Convict, Penalty Box,  Big Boss Man, Lock Up, Early Exit… (good thing there are still 9 months until the season starts)

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: A solid win over UCLA means Coach gets his balloon back for the off-season.

Mike Riley Happy Balloon

NUMBERS TO IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

17:36: The Huskers’ time-of-possession advantage over UCLA.

62: The number of times the Huskers ran the ball against the Bruins for a total of 326 yards on the ground.

Now let’s compare that effort to the rest of season:

BYU – 37/126
S. Alabama – 37/258
Miami – 34/153
S. Miss – 39/242
Illinois – 34/187
Wisconsin – 37/196
Minnesota – 36/203
Northwestern – 38/82
Purdue – 33/77
Michigan State  – 36/179
Rutgers – 35/174
Iowa – 38/137

4: The number of times the 1995 Huskers, aka the greatest team in the history of college football, topped 62 rushes during their entire season. (70 vs Pacific, 63 vs Washington State, 68 vs Iowa State,  68 vs Florida)

And all this leads to Larry the Cable Guy winning the award for “Most Accurate Tweet of the Night.”

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Foster Farms Bowl Preview

Cue the triumphant clucking of humanely raised, steroid-free chickens.

The Foster Farms Bowl is finally here.

You’re excited, right?

Like more excited than this chicken, right?

If you’re finding it hard to nod in agreement like some kind of subservient chicken, it’s OK. It really is. In all honesty, I’ve kind of tuned out the lead up to the Foster Farms Bowl. It’s amazing how the return of Star Wars can make a guy instantly forget about the woes of the Huskers. Still, they have a game today and I’m back on the Big Red train in full force.

Here’s our preview…

If you can remember all the way back to September, UCLA went in to the season at #13 in the AP Poll. If I recall correctly, the Bruins were a pre-season top 10 on Sam McKewon’s ballot. Luckily, for the sake of its voters, the AP doesn’t keep an archive of week-by-week ballots so that can’t be confirmed.

UCLA had a hot 4-0 start, including a one point squeaker against BYU thanks to Tanner Mangum’s last second magic finally running out. From there, the Bruins hit the skids hard against Arizona State and at Stanford where Christian McCaffrey had a record setting day en route to the Cardinal winning by three touchdowns. Still, the Bruins won the yardage battle by a healthy margin.

That sort of statistical anomaly has been a hallmark of UCLA’s season. Against Colorado they were out gained 554-400 and had the ball for only 19 minutes, yet they won 35-31.

After crunching all of UCLA’s games, the key to beating the Bruins looks to be the ability for a team to one thing well. Go through the air like Washington State or do a ground and pound like USC, the Bruins can be shredded by a team that sticks to its guns.

And could very well be the Huskers’ problem.

Have Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf used the bowl practices to finally forge an identity into their offense? Or is it going to be another case of another game, a whole new look?

Here’s hoping they took a page or two from USC’s methodical pummeling and feed the Bruins a steady diet of seniors Imani Cross and Andy Janovich, assuming they remember they are still on the roster. Add in a dash of Jordan Westerkamp and some non-horrible decisions by Tommy Armstrong and the Huskers could leave Levi’s Stadium with the win.

No matter how it shakes out for the Huskers, the Foster Farms Bowl is going to be one odd duck of the game.

If the Huskers lose, they’ll notch their eighth loss in a season for the first time since the 1951 squad went 2-8. At least the 1-9 record of the 1957 Huskers will be “safe” for at least one more year.

If the Huskers win tonight, especially if it’s by a convincing margin, they’ll head into the off-season with a nice boost for 2016 but there will still be that unshakable aftertaste of a team that clearly didn’t live up to its potential.

Even still, sleeping through class and acing the final exam is a much better way to go out.

Let’s turn this D minus of a season into a D+. GBR.

UCLA BRUIN
Mark it, Donnie. The Huskers will win 31-17.

BONUS CONTENT

A stat to impress your friends with: Tommy Armstrong is no longer the FBS interception leader. That honor currently belongs to Virginia’s Matt Johns who has 17 to Tommy’s paltry 16.

UCLA field trip: In case you missed it, I took a field trip to UCLA to see if anyone would notice a Husker fan roaming the campus.

I’m glad to say I didn’t get beat up, except for a few self-inflicted bumps and bruises and I even made some new friends.

UCLA BRUIN BEAR
Claws out Bruins!

BRUIN BEAR EATS A CHILD
While my new little buddy pretended to get eaten by the Bruin Bear, his dad and I had a good chat about Mike Riley. His take is that the guy is a great coach but just flat out cursed with bad luck dating back to his days with Chargers. My new little buddy and his dad were up from San Diego to visit Mattel Children’s Hospital and celebrate the 7th anniversary of the heart transplant he had at age 2. If you haven’t already, become an organ donor and help make a difference.

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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

more-missouri-butthurt-9-8-12

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

Alabama-Fan-Tattoo

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 11.12.47 AM

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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