Tag Archives: wisconsin

It’s going to be the best night ever or the worst night ever. Or somewhere in-between.

In what has been a semi-regular tradition since 2008, the Huskers will be playing at the exact same time the Los Angeles Dodgers are battling in the playoffs.

If you want a portal into what personal hell looks like, this is it. No sports fan should ever have to deal the the anguish and suspense of their two favorite teams playing simultaneously.

After a spending late night at Dodger Stadium, I woke up at the crack of noon today and have been pacing around the house until it’s time to make the four mile drive back to the ballpark.

By this point, my wife and I have the crossing of team streams down to a semi-exact science. We’ll be in our seats in time for kickoff and I’ll proceed to spend the next hour screaming into a rally towel as I watch the game unfold a few plays behind real-time on my iPad. Once the it’s time for Dodger baseball, I do my best to put the Husker game in the hands of the Football Gods but that never works and I devolve into stress eating garlic fries.

Out of all the times my two worlds have collided, neither the Huskers or the Dodgers have managed to both win. Tonight’s as good as a night as any for that to change.

The Dodgers will be going up against Dbacks pitcher Robbie Ray who is 3-0 against the Boys in Blue this season and has posted a 0.92 ERA in his three starts at Dodger Stadium in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Huskers are trying to avoid making it five losses in a row to those goddamn Badgers including back-to-back heartbreakers. Well, here’s the deal nobody is talking about.

Those goddamn Badgers aren’t that good. They had to rely on Northwestern’s screw ups to win last week and their signature victory was against a BYU team that is 1-5 and all kinds of shitty. As long as Tanner Lee doesn’t score more points for the Badgers than his own offense, the Huskers should win tonight.

Final score: Huskers: 27 –  Badgers: 17


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Breaking Badgers with Cousin Ben (Again)

Welp. It’s time for the Huskers’ annual showdown with the Badgers and the return of Cousin Ben, the biggest Wisconsin fan this Husker blog knows.

Ben was gracious enough to  take time out of his busy senior year of high school to write up a little preview of what Husker Nation can expect when the Badgers take the field Saturday night. What follows is his preview along with my commentary in  italics.

Take it away Cousin Ben…

Cousin Ben… ready for business or basketball.

Hello everyone- welcome to your least favorite article of the season. This year does feel a bit different, however. Night game. Lincoln Stadium. [I know you’re just trolling with this “Lincoln Stadium” business. Well played.]

I expect the atmosphere to be absolutely electric- which will make it much closer than it should be. Before my predictions, here is a breakdown of the best team in the Big Ten West. [You’re breaking down Nebraska? Nice!]

OFFENSE 

Wisconsin’s offense comes into the game following a fantastic second half against Northwestern. [You left out the part where the Badgers relied on Northwestern playing like idiots.]  This is pretty much your prototypical Badger offense once again. Great line, three good backs, shaky QB play. The line is young, but expect them to get plenty of good pushes. Wisconsin needs to run the ball a lot to win this game, and that all starts with the massive boys up front.

Carrying the ball will be the best freshman RB in the country, Jonathan Taylor, along with Pitt transfer Chris James, and Bradrick Shaw (yes, that random dude who ran for a 21 yard TD last year is our 3rd running back). Taylor has been tremendous, showing a mix of speed, strength and balance that not many freshman show. James has been decent, but a lot of fans had high expectations before the season, so he has underwhelmed a bit. Shaw is a big, powerful dude with underrated speed and elusiveness who could easily be an every down back on a lot of teams.

Now, onto our quarterback Mr. Alex Hornibrook. His inconsistencies have shown way too often this year, even after spending the offseason working with great coaches (including Peyton Manning). [At the Manning Passing Academy? Even T-Magic and Tommy Armstrong got invites to that. Whatever.]

Overall, he’s a really sound quarterback, who makes good decisions but his lack of athleticism and a weak arm make it tough for him to control the game in ways that elite teams quarterbacks often do. [OK. This is good.]

The receiving core is much improved, with all of it centered around the nine fingered wonder Troy Fumagalli (who is questionable for Saturday as of now). [Whoa. He really does only have nine fingers.] The thing Wisconsin has really improved on in recruiting is getting some young guys who can go deep and come up with the ball. Sophomores AJ Taylor and Quintez Cephus, as well as freshman Danny Davis (beast) have been pleasant surprises early in the season, and the seasoned vet Jazz Peavy, [Please tell me his nickname is Autobot.] while under targeted, could go off at anytime and have a big game. This offense as a whole is young, but extremely talented.

DEFENSE

Death, Taxes, and Wisconsin having a top 15 defense. [Thanks for being modest by saying top 15 instead of top 5.] This group is similar to recent defenses, but the defensive back play has really stood out. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Wisconsin’s new DC is former NFL safety Jim Leonhard.

Natrell Jamerson and D’cota Dixon have been fantastic at the safety spots, and corners Nick Nelson and Derrick Tindal have been manning the corner spots well. The linebacking core is absolutely unbelievable once again this year. TJ Edwards and Chris Orr are an elite package of MLB, and Garrett Dooley, Leon Jacobs, and Andrew VanGinkel off the edge give teams offensive lines some serious problems.

The defensive line, while mostly unknown, has been solid this year. The rotation is deep, and every guy does his job as he should. This is a defense who could force 3+ turnovers this weekend if Nebraska isn’t careful with the ball. Based on what I’ve seen in the games I’ve watched (Oregon and N.Illinois)  Wisconsin’s defense could have a very good night on Saturday. [Well, you clearly missed what the offense did against Rutgers and Regular Illinois.]

SPECIAL TEAMS

We have a fat kicker who kicks bombs and dances after field goals. Enough said. [Don’t worry. We all remember this tub of love for ripping out our hearts two years ago.]

FINAL JUDGEMENT

This is going to be a defensive game, which I believe is going to really help Wisconsin. Nebraska has been way too turnover prone (9 picks in 4 games by Tanner Lee) which will flip field position and give Wisconsin the advantage.

I see this one ending up 24-13 Wisconsin.

Jonathan Taylor runs for 115 yards and a touchdown, and Hornibrook throws for 200 yards and a TD. Tanner Lee throws 3 picks and Wisconsin forces 2 fumbles. I think Nebraska is a much improving team, but I think Wisconsin’s depth is too great. It’ll be very tight until the 4th quarter.

As you may remember, last year, I predicted Nebraska was going to lose 4 out of 5 to end the season… They ended up losing 3 out of 5. This year, I think Nebraska ends up going 3-4 to finish the season, with losses to Wisconsin, OSU, Penn State, and Minnesota. [Wait… so you’re saying the Huskers will finally beat Iowa?]

 I think Wisconsin finishes the regular season undefeated, but loses to OSU in the Big Ten Championship. [Another heartbreaking year for the Badgers? This makes me so happy.]


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It’s Time For a Happy Little Win: Here’s Your Wisconsin Pep Talk

Ask yourself this.

Did you really, like, really, really think the Huskers would be undefeated and the 7th ranked team in the nation heading into the Wisconsin game?

If the answer is yes, congrats. You might be qualified to be an expert contributor to this site. Our preseason predictions for the Huskers were nothing but Ws… until things potentially go off the rails next week in Columbus.

But let’s focus on tonight in Madison.

This is game is exactly what we all wanted. The only way it could be any better is if Wisconsin wasn’t already softened up by Michigan and Ohio State. Taking down an unbeaten (and surely top 5) team would quiet any complaints about the Huskers’ weak schedule. Still, joining the Wolverines and Buckeyes in the elite club of Badger pummelers isn’t too shabby.

The Huskers are long overdue for a win against Wisconsin and there’s no better place to do it than their home turf.

On a Saturday night.

On Bob Ross’ birthday.

bob-ross-racoon

The greatest American painter who ever lived would have turned 74 today. While I never saw him celebrate a victory by his college football team, there’s no doubt he would have been a hip hip hooray kind of guy. Then he’d go right back to being the chillest rascal who ever lived.

Is it going to be disappointing in the unlikely event that the Huskers lose? Hell yes. Will the Earth stop spinning? Only for a few days.

Until that happens though, let’s enjoy this one as much as possible.

Husker Nation is living the dream right now and there’s no reason for one game to turn things into a nightmare season.

The deck is going to stacked against the Big Red in Camp Randall Stadium but do you know who’s going to be standing strong on the Nebraska sideline like a happy little tree refusing to buckle during a mighty storm?

Mike Riley.

By now we should all accept the fact that, like Bob Ross, Riley is completely unflappable. Granted, an errant YOLObomb is a little more severe than a happy accident but there’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. If the shit hits the fan we can rest easy knowing he’s not going to lose his. And that’s going to make a huge difference this time around.

Things might get a little hairy but we gotta let the game play out for a full 60 minutes, especially if we want to get to the part where the Huskers have been owning the last 15.

Nebraska wins this one 26-20. GBR.

mike-riley-as-bob-ross


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Breaking Down the Badgers with Cousin Ben

Welcome to game week against Wisconsin.

As you may know, the undefeated Huskers are ranked number 7 while the Badgers are 5-2 and clinging to relevance in the 11th spot. A win for Nebraska means their lofty but “unearned” ranking has been justified. Another loss to the Badgers and it’s rambling think pieces and rambling blowhards on your TV reminding you that Nebraska still isn’t back. And then there’s a game at Ohio State to start worrying about.

Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, this has always been longest week of the season for me since the bulk of my family hails from that magical land where you’re not charged with a felony until your FIFTH DUI. You can find it on the map listed as Wisconsin.

My brother and I are our family’s lone Nebraska natives and Husker fans. Our representation is growing somewhat thanks to he and his wife’s rapidly expanding family but we are still hopelessly outnumbered.

badgers vs huskers
We really weren’t outnumbered 27-4 on the 4th of July. There was a fifth little Husker fan in a stroller somewhere.

Out of the Badger bunch you see above, my 16-year-old cousin Ben (front and center in the bucket hat) is the biggest fan of them all and he’s way more knowledgeable than your above average professional sports hack. He lives in Green Bay and is on his high school’s cross-country and basketball teams. He’s a sniper from beyond the arc so if you have an extra basketball scholarship to give away, check out his Hudl highlights.

Ben was nice enough to give a breakdown of what to expect when the Huskers roll in to Madison this weekend.

Here’s our interview.

First off, my condolences to you and the Badgers for falling out of the Top 10 after squeaking by Iowa. How’s life in the not-Top 10 been treating you?

I was extremely surprised that the Badgers weren’t in the top 10 again this week, but coming from unranked to start the season, 11 is pretty nice. I still have hope that we will be Big Ten West Division Champions, and hopefully get to the Rose Bowl.

The Badgers lost by a touchdown against Michigan and in overtime to Ohio State on consecutive weekends. How were you able to handle such demoralizing defeats? Did you need to take any time off from school?

The Michigan game was rough. I worked for the first quarter and part of the second and got to listen to Michigan’s kickers keep Wisconsin in the game. Then I had to go to my girlfriend’s dance in the fourth quarter and watched in agony as our DB got burnt and ultimately lost the game. My girlfriend made a comment that I didn’t look happy in any of the pictures. If only she understood.

harambae
Ben and his girlfriend in happier times before the Badgers had to go and ruin Fall Fest.

I was lucky enough to be in the crowd for the Ohio State game (in a section of mostly Ohio State fans) and that one was soul crushing. Watching the defense play so well for most of the game and our offense move the ball efficiently just to lose was horrible. My thoughts of the OT: Ohio State’s receiver fully pushed off on the TD and should have been called for PI. Also, I don’t know why we didn’t have receivers in on 1st and goal, 2nd and goal, OR 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line. But needless to say, the Ohio State game was encouraging, yet, sad.

On a better note, you were at Lambeau for the Badgers’ win over LSU. How much fun was that game and how confusing was it to see the Badgers at Lambeau? Were LSU fans weird or what?

The Wisconsin vs LSU game was the second most fun college football game I’ve ever been able to attend, right behind Melvin Gordon’s 408 game (don’t think I have to explain that one any further). Lambeau was extremely hyped up and the game couldn’t have went better for the Badgers. I thought Green Bay was a perfect place to host the game and I’d be shocked if that’s the last college game at Lambeau. The LSU fans were very bummed and all said they were going drinking after the game. Oh, they also loved to complain about their QB, who I didn’t think was horrible other than his last mistake. But overall, very fun game.

The Badgers started the season with Bart Houston as their QB before switching to Alex Hornibrook. Then they both played against Iowa. What’s up with these guys?

Honestly, I have no clue. I’m not a huge fan of Houston, and I don’t know what Hornibrook did to get his playing time split. Hornibrook doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he makes good decisions and knows how to run the team. I don’t like seeing Houston in there.

How much is running back Corey Clement like Melvin Gordon? BTW, Melvin is on my fantasy team solely because of the way he ran wild on the Huskers.

I was a big Corey guy early in his career, but I think he started to get too injury prone, and didn’t work to get much better. I do think he’s stepped it up big time the last couple of games, and I hope he can continue his hot streak. I think he’s going to be a third or fourth rounder and hopefully can make some noise in the league.

How much of a beast is J.J. Watt’s 243 pound little brother, T.J.? He’s a fantastic player. I think he handled his big stage poorly against OSU, so if you’ve only watched that game, you’ll be extremely surprised this weekend.

Do the Badgers have any other monsters Husker fans should be worried about?

Jack Cichy is now out for the season otherwise, he would have been my first pick. But our whole defense is extremely solid: Vince Biegel is a beast. The offense will hopefully do enough. I’m a big Jazz Peavy guy (receiver) just because of his speed and agility.

Now that your sister is a freshman at Madison has she turned into a Badger super fan?

She goes to all the games, but I don’t think she could name more than one player on the football team. She’s more interested in the tailgating parties and Jump Around than the actual games.

If you had to choose between the Packers winning the Super Bowl or the Badger basketball team winning the NCAA Tournament, what would you pick? (I didn’t include the Badger football team since getting selected to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl isn’t exactly the stuff dreams are made of.)

Ummmm… The million dollar question. I think I’d have to pick the Badger basketball team because I follow them so closely and go to so many games. I mean, I named my dog after one of the players for gosh sakes. But the Packers winning the Super Bowl wouldn’t upset me at all.

What are your expectations for Bronson this season?

I think he’s going to be a beast. First team all B10, 17 PPG and lead the Badgers to the Final Four. (You have to make the tournament to make it there, so Nebraska fans may not know much about that.) Just kidding. But I have extremely high expectations for the Badger basketball team this year. Much higher than I had for the football team coming in. (I told myself as long as we made a bowl, I’d be happy.)

Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday?

The question I’ve been most waiting to answer. Camp Randall’s going to be rocking, and Tommy Armstrong n Co. won’t be able to handle a tough road test against a great defense. Hornibrook does just enough to keep us ahead, Clement and Ogunbowale (yes, that actually is someone’s name) each score one and Andrew Endicott nails 3 field goals. [Note: Rafeal Gaglianone is out for the season.] Wisconsin wins 23-10 and Nebraska ends up losing 4 out of 5, giving Wisconsin the right to play in the Big Ten championship.
[Note: Gee Ben, tell us how you really feel.]

Oh, and I heard my mom is watching you guys this week. Please tell me you’ve been tormenting her. She sent me some trolling texts during the Dodger/Cubs series so she needs some payback.

She’s threatening to throw a “Husker party” on Saturday, so I’m plotting ways to get back at her if that were to happen.

[Note: OK. This proves my mom is officially the worst when it comes to sports. She’s never once rooted for Nebraska when they’ve played Wisconsin.]


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View from the Boneyard: Wisconsin

This one was so personal.

As maybe like, two of you know (hi mom), while I go to school here in Lincoln, I’m originally from Minnesota. The Land of 10,000 Lakes, the inability to say the word “bag” and learning to cheer against all things Wisconsin before cheering for anything Minnesotan.

I still identify my favorite Husker game as the 2012 home win against Wisconsin. I made the trip out to Indianapolis for the B1G Championship game for my 19th birthday. There are so many memories of games against the Badgers.

This one hurt so badly.

Four hours before kickoff, less than ten students sat in line waiting for a wristband from the events staff. Any other year, you’d probably see quite the lineup that close to doors opening. But as time passed, the same familiar faces of east stadium arrived.

If you follow me on twitter (once again, hi mom), you’ll know that I was diagnosed with mono earlier this week. You can only imagine the chaos that ensued as I ran between the doors of east stadium and my practically-on-campus apartment three times before going in to the stadium. For the first time since the Wisconsin game in 2012, I missed doors opening. I’m an embarrassment. A disappointment. A disgrace. I’m sorry, Husker nation.

Worry not, however, because as I ran down the stairs (alone) to the front row, everything looked the exact same as every other game. The only difference was the group of drunk guys that ended up sitting in the row behind us and kept encouraging my incredibly awkward dancing throughout the game—as if I needed encouragement to embarrass myself.

Despite previous games, the entire crowd was just as energetic as always for the pregame events. The atmosphere changed as Alex Lewis said his introduction in the starting line up.

A chorus of boos echoed from various parts of the stadium. Another chorus of boos greeted Wisconsin as they ran on to the field. Typically, I’m completely against booing anyone other than the refs, but I made an exception just this one time.

This game started out the complete opposite of every Wisconsin game we’ve had in recent years: scoreless. An entire quarter of almost nothing but punts left everyone hopeful and thanking the football gods for the blessing that is Sam Foltz.

While Wisconsin was first to finally get on the board, it didn’t take the Huskers long to follow suit. A touchdown from Tommy Armstrong Jr. with just 2:40 left in the half left the Husker fans who were daring enough to get a game day balloon feeling relieved as they no longer had to deal with the hassle of keeping the balloon from flying away or hitting their neighbor in the face.

Just minutes later, a completed pass from Armstrong to Alonzo Moore for a touchdown put the Huskers up 14-7 at the half. Between a week of dealing with mono and the excitement of finally being up on the Badgers, halftime couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

I’m gonna be real with you all, because I like to think of us all as friends (yet again, hi mom). The entire third quarter was almost a complete blur, with the exception of a field goal for the Badgers, which was soon joined by a touchdown and field goal early in the fourth to put the Badgers up 20-14. Honestly, with what then happened in the fourth quarter, it’s hard to think about much else.

The crowd was absolutely deafening as fullback Andy Janovich ran for 55 yards to put the Huskers up 21-20. The student section erupted as students ran up and down the aisles, hugging strangers as Let Me Clear My Throat blasted through the speakers. I went from struggling with the fatigue of mono to suddenly realizing exactly how Grandpa Joe felt when he finally got out of bed and danced around when Charlie got the golden ticket. It was truly an unforgettable moment.

Andy Janovich Touchdown
The joy of a Husker fullback rumbling 55 yards for a touchdown.

And then the game was over and the Huskers won.

…Just kidding.

Not long after the touchdown, Wisconsin was faced with a field goal attempt with just 1:26 remaining. Every person in the stadium held their breath as they watched the football fly through the air. I kid you not, that stadium was so quiet that you could hear the football go off the post from the other side of the field. The kick was no good.

missedFG
The goal post deserves a Blackshirt for blocking that field goal attempt.

And then the game was over and the Huskers won. (OK Hayley the joke wasn’t funny the first time, stop.)

All the Huskers had to do at this point was get the first down. Then we heard it, loud and clear in the east stadium student section: “We’ve got this! We’ve won! We beat Wisconsin!”

Every student within earshot turned to stare down the man who had clearly not watched any previous games this year and decided to jinx this one. Next thing we know, Foltz is running out to punt and everyone is watching the rest of the game through their fingers.

A 46 yard field goal attempt with just four seconds left sounds crazy and an absolutely heartbreaking way to lose a game—so naturally that’s how the game had to end.

You could physically see the disappointment hit each Husker fan as the Badger football team celebrated their victory. Some fans hurried out of the stadium, others chose to sit and mourn in their seat.

I’ve cried a total of two times in Memorial Stadium: Jack Hoffman’s touchdown at the spring game in 2013 and the Hail Mary pass. The third time nearly happened after that field goal.

Life would be so much easier if football games were only 59 minutes.

end-hiEvan
Husker faithful exited Memorial Stadium in stunned silence. Nice photobomb, Evan.

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Sunday Afternoon Hot Takes: Wisconsin Edition

Before kickoff yesterday, we shared some new and bizarre ways for Wisconsin to beat the Huskers to add a little spice to the boring predictability of blowout losses. One way we didn’t suggest was a last second Badger field goal because that just seemed to a little too trite.

We all know how that worked out.

Rafael Gaglianone
How it feels when coach says he’s taking you to Olive Garden to celebrate.

How Much Stress Can One Blogger Take: Yesterday was the first Husker game I watched at home in three years. With kickoff at 12:30 and the first pitch of the Dodger game at six, I chose to stay home and increase my odds of getting to see the end of the game and make it to Chavez Ravine in time.

For the record, it is exactly 7.6 miles from our driveway to Dodger Stadium.

Thanks to an Obamajam and USA playing Mexico at the Rose Bowl, LA traffic was promised to be extra crazy so we planned to leave at four.

The clock struck the fateful hour with about five minutes or so left in the game. The only perk of staying home was being able to sync up the Huskers app and watch the game with the ESPN choads on mute. Up until that second, everything worked like a charm until my lovely wife said, “You can listen to it in the car.”

15 minutes later she was dragging me out of the house by my ear without granting even a second to mourn what had happened to the Huskers yet again.

We listened to the post game press conference en route and her thoughts on Mike were that “he sounds like a nice guy and maybe a little sad.

No kidding.

Luckily, the Dodger game made for a nice, relaxing Saturday evening of October baseball. It wasn’t at all the craziest game I’ve ever attended thanks to Chase Utley‘s fateful, game tying double play break up. While social media was imploding with outrage, the feeling in the stands was completely different. The Mets fans surrounding us thought what happened was an acceptable baseball play and were more upset about getting hosed on getting an out at second. Once it was revealed that Tejada suffered a broken leg, the mood for both sides definitely turned somber. Before you rail on Utley, think how you’d feel if it were Alex Gordon breaking up a double play or remember how you felt when Kenny Bell laid down his soul crushing block.

Leave it to a Giant’s blogger to have probably the most rational take on what happened. And for good measure, here are some previous thoughts from Mets manager Terry Collins about the need to be tough when breaking up double plays.

Mike Riley’s Balloon Watch: Last week’s pile of poo is now on fire.

Mike Riley Flaming Pile of Poo

Our Score Prediction:

Pretty far off-base on the score but it’s all there was to work with. The magic score prediction hat is still MIA and may or may not have gone missing after seeing Van Halen at the Hollywood Bowl last Friday night.

Best Shade of the Day:

DPE: Remember when DPE broke his foot but the silver lining was that if everything went OK he’d be back in time to run wild against Wisconsin? DPE had a pair of receptions for 31 yards. Since his return at Illinois, he’s been a complete non-factor.

Running Back by Committee: Can this please stop? Last week it was Imani Cross who was absent from the backfield. He returned this week with Ozigbo taking his place in parts unknown on the Husker sideline. And does Mikale Wilbon need to get his picture put on a milk carton or what?

Jordan Stevenson: His redshirt was burned for 14 kick return yards, a couple touchbacks, and the honor of becoming running back number five.

Andy Janvovich: This is the perfect summation of his 55 yard touchdown run.

That Bankshirt Defense Tho: When Wisconsin got the ball back with 63 seconds to play, you just knew it was going to be curtains for the Huskers. It was inevitable that Joel Stave was going to find a way to shred the Huskers’ secondary like cheddar and he did just that, taking the Badgers from their own 30 to the Huskers’ 28 in only three plays. Not to beat the dead horse of bringing up the old regime but chances are they would have rolled the dice and dialed up a blitz on one of those plays. Getting Stave to the turf just once would have chewed up some major clock for Wisconsin.

Dirk Chatelain and Hip Hop: As someone who professes his love of The Boss in his twitter bio, it shouldn’t be surprising that Dirk may not be the most well versed when it comes to that hippity hop but this passage in his otherwise on-point column is a real head scratcher-

…the speakers blasted “Let Me Clear My Throat,” an old-school hip-hop song that, when it comes on the radio, prompts your father to turn the station.

DJ Kool dropped Let Me Clear My Throat in 1996. While Pearl Jam is starting to show up on classic rock radio from time to time, mid 90s hip hop is a little too new to ever be considered old school. And then, there’s the issue of Let Me Clear My Throat even appearing on radio outside of a specialty station such as 93.5 KDAY. So with that in mind, for “dad” to even have a chance to hear DJ Kool, he would already be listening to a hip hop oriented station and would probably turn up the radio, not change the station.

Or, maybe “dad” is riding shotgun and your car and if that’s the case he should be respectful of the universal “my car, my rules” policy.

NUMBERS TO DEPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WITH

1: The number of times a Husker running back has rushed for over 100 yards in a single game this season. (Newby hit 198 against South Alabama.)

394: Sam THUNDERLEG Foltz‘s yardage on nine punts. The Husker offense racked up 325 total yards.

3: Total carries for last week’s running back of the future Devine Ozigbo.

39.28: Tommy Armstrong‘s completion percentage. He was 11 – 28 on the day. He’s currently at 52.4 percent on the year which is almost a full tick below last year’s 53.3%.

36: The total margin by which the 2 and 4 Huskers have outscored their opponents this year.

17: Jordan Westerkamp‘s total receiving yardage the past two games.

17, 715: The turnout for #7 Youngstown State‘s rumble with #4 Illinois State. The Cardinals flew away with 31 – 29 victory after the Penguins’ 2 point conversion and ensuing onsides kick failed.

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Breaking Badgers with Cousin Ben

Since the Huskers joined the Big Ten, their battles with the Badgers have become an extra special time among my family, the vast majority of whom hail from the Land of Cheese and Swill Beer.

With my brother and I being the oddballs who grew up in Nebraska and raised as proper Husker fans from birth, a familial friction has sparked every time the Huskers and Badgers throw down. Mostly, it’s Badger backing cousins who take a jab or two before crawling back into the safety of their dens until the Badgers have jet sweeped their way to victory. Then the smack talk claws come out in full force.

The best of the worst in my family is my cousin Ben. He’s a 15-year-old three sport juggernaut and is an absolutely rabid fan of the Badgers and the Packers (you can see Lambeau Field from the end of his street). Ben knows more about sports than most people at ESPN and wields emojis like a master assassin. In other words, he’s a full-on honey badger when it comes to heckling the Huskers when they’re down.

Ben was gracious enough to take a break from his homework to give a glimpse into the world of Wisconsin athletics and what Husker fans can expect to see on Saturday.

Just so our readers get a sense of who they’re dealing with, tell us a little bit about your level of fandom for the Badgers. And this can be the all-encompassing Badgers, football, basketball, etc.

Well I live about two and a half hours away from Madison but I don’t think I’ve missed watching a Badger basketball or football game in about four or five years. I’ve gotten to see some amazing games like Melvin Gordon’s 408 yard game and that 70-31 slaughtering in the Big Ten Championship (okay, now I’m just teasing you) but it’s been an absolutely crazy ride. Being a Badger fan has brought me to Texas, LA, Indy and of course more times than I can remember, the best college town in America, Madison.

What are your favorite moments as a Badger fan? Best game you’ve been to?

My best moments as a Badger fan have probably been the three straight Rose Bowls and the two Final Fours. The fact that Wisconsin won three Big Ten titles with basically one QB that could throw the ball (sorry, Scott Tolzein) is pretty crazy. The best game I’ve been too would have to be is when Wisconsin beat #1 Ohio State back in 2010. I was just walking in when David Gilreath took back the opening kick and the Badgers dominated when I was in my seat as well. That’s the only game I’ve had the pleasure of storming the field for.

Does your mom ever get upset with how you and your dad disappear for most of March to chase the Badgers around the NCCA Tournament?

My mom just pretty much stays out of the way during March and early April because I think she just knows we could be gone. She did come to the Final Four last year so I think she was especially happy about that.

As a whole, Nebraska fans tend to be more than a little terrified of the Badgers, especially after the last couple times they’ve played. What do Nebraska fans have to scared about this year?

The Badgers always seem to have two things on their team: a great line, and a top back. This year, we thought we had the great back but (Corey) Clement has been out since the Bama game so that’s gone. Stave will be back to his ways where he can’t complete a pass if it’s not 25 yards down the field. The only real thing that will have Nebraska fans shaking their heads this year is going to be the defense. The line is solid, and maybe two of the best OLB in the country in Joe Schobert and Vince Biegal will have the lineman picking up Armstrong all game. The secondary is solid led by safetys Michael Caputo and the QB… I mean receiver…. no stick to safety Tanner McEvoy. (Editor’s note: Tanner changes positions more often than the Huskers change running backs.)

Will Joel Stave ever graduate? The dude has to be like 25 by now.

I sure hope he does soon.. They have a Sophomore QB named DJ Gillians that is a stud. Stave just isn’t very good against good teams. (Editor’s note: I think this may be a burn towards the Huskers.)

Do you think Barry Alvarez somehow find a way to get rid of Paul Chryst so he can coach another bowl game?

Haha. Barry is getting up there and Chryst is a Wisconsin boy so I think getting rid of him will be tough for about 3 years.

And on that note, how happy are you that Bret Bielema is Arkansas’ problem?

Goodness. That’s about the best thing the Badgers have going for them is watching Bielema choke. When they played Texas A&M, he called two pass plays on 3 and 4, and 4 and 4. If that would’ve happened in Madison, he probably wouldn’t have been picking up any sloozy college girls after the game.

What’s your prediction for the final score? I know you texted me but my phone is across the room and I’m too lazy to get up and look.

31-17 Badgers. I figure if it’s closer than that, Stave can throw up a prayer and the defense will either back away or push the receiver.

What are the Badgers’ chances for making it back to the Final Four this season? How will they ever replace Frank the Tank?

Not great but I think it’s better than what other people think. They have the best PG in the Big Ten (might be a bit biased there considering my dog is named after him) and a top 20 pick in next year’s draft that will anchor the team. I’m at least expecting a sweet sixteen run and since it’s Bo’s “last year” (Tony Bennett or Bo only) you never know what he can get the boys to do.

Are the Packers going to the Super Bowl or will they find a new and clever way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? That was so brutal how they lost last year.

I have no doubt in my mind right now that the Packers are the best team in the NFL right now. Last year I probably would have said that but I’m a lot more confident this year. Plus, the hands team is 2/2 this year I believe so that’s a good start towards not choking in the same way.

How does it feel knowing that after all the great running backs that Wisconsin has produced, the best running back in the entire history of the Green Bay Packers is Ahman Green who just happens to be from Nebraska?

The only thing I remember well about Amahn in his prime was he came to my school after a domestic abuse charge I believe and I told him not to beat his wife. True story.

Like I said, he’s a master assassin of talking trash.

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Nebraska Will Most Likely Win the 2015 National Championship

cfpchampWarning: This editorial may include sunshine pumping.

After carefully evaluating the upcoming college football season, the most likely outcome I see for Mike Riley’s maiden voyage out on the high Husker seas — is a National Friggin’ Title.

Burdensome expectations for the newly minted captain of Memorial Stadium, you say? A reckless forecast sure to undermine the confidence of a Corvallis crew all too used to Pac-12 participation trophies?

Yeah, well. Whatever.

If you want to rhetorically hold Riley and company’s hands through the tunnel walk on Saturday, start your own damn blog.

Big Red Fury expects Mike Riley to take the helm like the second-coming of Bob Devaney who saw a 200% increase in wins his first year at Nebraska over the previous season.

Granted, for Mike Riley to do the same, he will need to win 27 games in 2015 — a mathematical impossibility, unfortunately. But he can go another route to match the phenomenal improvement Devaney brought with him in 1962. The BobFather produced four fewer losses in his first season than Bill Jennings produced in his last.

As luck would have it, Bo Pelini left Mike with the exact number of losses he would need to match Bob’s improvement. Only this time, should Coach Riley strike the same lightning, it will mean a 15-0 record.

And a National Damn Title.

But, but, but — I can hear the carping now. Bob Devaney didn’t win a National Title in his first year at Nebraska. Bo Pelini didn’t put the ball on a tee with a 3-6-1 out-going record. And the atmosphere is just plain different now. College football of 2015 is a lifetime removed from college football of 1962.

Ix-nay on the ucking-fay excuses-ay. That’s right, I’m bringing Pig Latin to this here itchbe.

So maybe you wonder when was the last time a Division 1 college football team actually went 15-0? After all, the Buckeyes didn’t even do it when they picked up their 14-1 Championship last year.

The answer is Penn University in 1897.

Oh, some teams have come agonizingly close with 14 wins and no losses. Florida State in 2013. Auburn in 2010. Alabama and Boise State in 2009. Ohio State in 2002.

But come four and a half months from now — unless my crystal ball is in need of some Windex — Nebraska will stand shoulder to shoulder with the mighty 1897 Penn Quakers as the only 15-0 Division 1 football teams in the entire history of the sport.

Tall order? Sure. If you say so.

But what if Mike and his Corvallis mechanics stumble up somewhere while pimping out this Big Red Lamborghini they’ve been bestowed?

Like — and I know this is going to sound ridiculous — what if Michigan State comes to town and pulls out an inspired performance, while SIMULTANEOUSLY Nebraska plays a little bit flat?

It’s conceivable then, yeah sure, Sparty might actually sneak out a win while in Lincoln. Crazier things have happened, right?

So then Nebraska gets back on track, blows out Rutgers and Iowa and heads off to Indianapolis 11-1 to face, probably a 12-0 Ohio State.

No worries. We’re in like Flynn.

Nebraska then manhandles the Buckeyes. While Coach Riley goes to waggle Urban Frank Meyer III’s humiliated little grip at midfield, Mark Banker takes Meyer from behind, chucks him to the ground and puts his boot on his trachea.

Just to let him know the new pecking order.

Nebraska then goes on to the playoffs, tosses off some SEC champ like a gamy bit of ground squirrel, then pounds the hapless PAC-12 champ like a Sharknado slamming into the Santa Monica pier. VOILA! 14-1 National Champs, just like those tallywackers from Columbus last year.

Okay. So let’s say Nebraska bowls through its regular season 12-0 (or, at worst 11-1) and then loses (I’m just asking you to humor me here) to Ohio State and is then LEFT OUT of the playoff. Would that then derail Nebraska’s 2015 National Title run?

Absolutely not. And that’s one of the things I love about college football. Titles are subjective. It’s the only sport that has a long history of letting multiple champs stand together on the same gold medal podium in the same year.

Quick — who won the 1970 National Title? Depends on who you ask. A Nebraska fan will say, “Nebraska, of course.” And out the corner of their mouths, they’ll add, “And Texas, I guess.” If you ask a Texas fan the same question, they’ll say, “Texas! And some other team. Nebraska, maybe? Did we even play them that year?”

And the truth is they’re BOTH right. But ask an Ohio State fan, who won the 1970 National Title, they’ll say, “Buckeyes.”

What? The same Ohio State team that went 9-1 and lost 27-17 to Stanford in the Rose Bowl? National Champs over 11-0-1 Nebraska? And 10-1 Texas?

Indeed. Turns out a little organization called the National Football Foundation got all hair-triggered and awarded Ohio State college football’s 1970 crown in the afterglow of the Buckeye’s 20-9 win over 4th ranked Michigan, without bothering to see how things played out in Pasadena.

Nebraska 1970 National Co-Champs Ohio State, Nebraska, and Texas were all somebody’s National Champion in 1970.

What’s remarkable is that this Championship sits just fine with historically attuned Buckeye fans who unabashedly count that year as a notch in their title belt. Likewise, Texas fans are equally cool with their 1970 Title despite that the Longhorns also lost their bowl game (handily by 13 points to Notre Dame). The Coaches Poll was also prone to premature National Title ejaculation back then.

In fact, college football is so over-run with multiple national champions, there are actually 356 claimed titles despite there having only been 146 total seasons. Other sports aren’t quite so communistic. There have been 110 World Series and 110 Major League champions. There have been 94 NFL seasons. 94 NFL Champions. 76 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball seasons. 76 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Champions. 64 NBA seasons. 64 NBA Champions.

You see where this is headed?

So “open-to-interpretation” are college football title claims, some programs have declared themselves champions of particular seasons decades after the fact. Alabama, Notre Dame, and USC are especially adept at retroactive trophy collecting. And some of their hardware requires assertions so outlandish, they’d make Baron Munchausen stand up and scream — LIAR!

So, back to our 2015 scenario. Nebraska beats everybody on the regular season slate. But then they go to Indianapolis and get beat by the Urbhio State Buckmeyers and the playoff selection committee does not ring up Mike Riley’s phone.

Shit out of luck?

No sir!

We simply need to refer to anything after the regular season as an “exhibition game.” As long as Nebraska survives the regular season with no more than 1 loss, what happens in the exhibition portion of the year is irrelevant. Per college football history.

Outside of the 5 seasons in which Nebraska was declared National Champions, my favorite year of college football was 1960. For no other reason than the leeway its sheer lunacy provides in allowing titles to be doled out to just anybody.

As some of you may already know, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were at one time college football juggernaut. This reputation stems largely from Minnesota’s four AP National Titles — including the very first Associated Press Title handed out in 1936.

AP titles are the longest running order of fully recognized “legit” championships and it is a pretty big deal to be awarded one. Even when you include the results of the 1960 football season.

As it turns out, the Associated Press changed their voting system in 1960 as a response to the embarrassment of the previous season in which 200 AP voters split their first place votes among SEVEN different schools. Syracuse was the overall winner in 1959, but Mississippi, LSU, Texas, Georgia, Wisconsin and Alabama all had enough merit to garner at least one media cheerleader in their corner for the final assessment of the season.

By the way, look how showered the SEC was with media love even back in 1959.

Now, to avoid such future logjams of varying opinions, the Associated Press trimmed their voting block down to the ballots of just 48 sports writers for 1960. And it was the first year in which they implemented the weighted vote of 20 points for first place, 19 points for second place, 18 points for third and so on. But still, the final vote would happen at the end of the regular season.

The result was, balls out, the most ridiculous AP champion of all time. The 8-2 Minnesota Gophers.

Minnesota’s AP trophy came after beating just one team with a better than 5-4 record — Iowa, who ended the year 8-1 and ranked #3 but did not compete in any a bowl game because of a Big 10 rule in which conference teams could only play in the Rose Bowl. And, as head-to-head winners, that trip belonged to Minnesota.

After beating Iowa, Minnesota subsequently lost to 4-4-1 Purdue by 9 points. They then beat a sub .500 Wisconsin, standing at 8-1, they picked up their AP National Title trophy and then headed to Pasadena where they were nearly skunked by PAC-8 Champion, Washington, to the tune of 17-7.

When all “exhibition” games were finished for 1960, these following teams all had better records than the Gophers: 11-0 Missouri (finished #5), 11-0 New Mexico State (finished #17), 10-0-1 Mississippi (finished #2), 10-1 Washington (finished #6), 8-1 Iowa (finished #3), 8-1 Rutgers (finished unranked) 9-2 Florida (finished #18), 9-2 Navy (finished #4) and 9-2 Utah State (finished the year unranked).

If the votes were cast after the Bowl games, it would be hard to see ranking Minnesota better than 4th or 5th for that year. The title would have probably gone to either Washington, Missouri or Mississippi.

And yet, the record book still says “Minnesota: 1960 College Football National Champions.”

This is the kind of racket Nebraska can get in on in 2015.

All we need is for Mike Riley to kick off his baptismal Husker season with an 11-1 or 12-0 run. And then have an organization declare a 2015 champion before the conference championship games.

That’s where Big Red Fury comes in.

I propose a new college football award organization. The Big Red Fury Collegiate Gridiron Association or: BRFCGA. This organization will be a panel of any such people willing to vote in a college football champion at the conclusion of the regular season — and unwilling to consider any team for the top spot not named Nebraska.

The panel will consist of the three members of Big Red Fury plus Jason Peter, Tommy Lee and Larry the Cable Guy.

Peter Lee Cable GuyThe greatest power trio Nebraska has ever known.

Jason and Larry will, no doubt, be in the tank for the Huskers. Heck, we may even get a #1 vote from Larry with three losses. Who knows? Tommy may take some cajoling to avoid throwing his vote away on somebody like San Jose State or Wake Forest. We just need to remind him that Dear Old Nebraska U is his alma mater for the three-week stint he had in Lincoln back in 2005. It’s quite possible that he doesn’t remember that far back, but showing him pictures of himself decked out in drumline gear ought to trigger some kind of cogitation.

As for the three Big Red Fury voters, at least one of us will be on board from the opening kick-off. The rest is up to Mike Riley’s orchestration.

So, sit back. Enjoy Nebraska’s 2015 National Championship run and give a little toast to the 1960 Gophers. Thanks to their precedent, we’ve got this thing in the bag.

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The Best Reaction Tweets to the Mike Riley Hiring

Well, it’s safe to say no one in Husker Nation saw Mike Riley signing on to take over the Big Red.

Even Vegas would have given our off the radar candidates a better chance of ending up in Lincoln than the man who guided the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to two Grey Cups.

And the way Huskers announced the news was about as stealthy as the search itself.

Naturally, such a subtle announcement made fans burned by days of coaching rumors highly skeptical.

Still, Derek remained undeterred by this dose of logic and doubled down by saying a “news source” is better than a Twitter account- even if the people behind the account would be telling the “news sources the news.”

And if Derek trusts, the “news sources” surrounding the Huskers, he clearly wasn’t on Twitter yesterday.

Here’s your “news source”, in action Derek.

Faux Pelini couldn’t believe the news.

(If Faux would have dropped the Twitter mic right here, he would have gone out like a boss but he had to get some things off his chest before apparently peacing out for good.)

Every Day Should Be Saturday couldn’t believe the news either.

But when they did, they got on board the Mike Riley Express quick.

Quick true story that makes us kinda stoked about the Mike Riley hire: The night of the Huskers’ comeback win against Wisconsin, I got too hammed to drive home so stumbled from our watch site to the In-N-Out (a Mike Riley favorite) across the street and told a group of skaters I was buying Double Doubles for whoever could ollie over a bus stop bench. One kid could do it. Good times.

Back to the tweets.

There was disappointment.

Then a great voice of reason chimed in.

Along with some retorts.

And mildly drunken rage.

And a fond remembrance for the dearly departed.

But who has time to get sentimental when there are god damn parody twitter accounts to make?

 

 

 

 

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What if the Huskers Had Beaten Wisconsin?

The dark clouds of the college football apocalypse have settled in hard over Nebraska this week thanks to the Huskers getting taken behind the woodshed by the Wisconsin Badgers.

In just 42 brutal (and record setting) minutes of football at Camp Randall Stadium, all the anxiety, anguish, and rage that had been (mostly) contained by a (mostly) solid season finally breached the dam, causing all hell to finally break loose among Husker Nation.

Days later,  the body blows and nut shots keep coming at Bo Pelini and the team. On Tuesday Omaha World Herald staff writer Dirk Chatelain administered an atomic purple nurple of his own by illustrating how Pelini’s D can be just as horrid as the unspeakable Kevin Cosgrove’s.

But the question we have is this: Would Husker Nation really have been any happier with a win at Wisconsin?

While the obvious, no duh answer is a resounding YES, there’s more to it than that.

Let’s take a journey to an alternate dimension where the Huskers came away with a victory over the Badgers.

In this wholly hypothetical game, we’ll pretend the Huskers won 31 – 17 with all the elements of a solid Husker victory being present and accounted for-

Tommy  went 15/25 and 200 yards and 2TDs.
Ameer ran for 120 and a score of his own.
The Blackshirts added a TD off a scoop and score fumble recovery. AND held Melvin Gordon to under 300 yards rushing.
Drew Brown eased doubts with a 45 yard field goal right down Broadway.

A wave of jubilation immediately follows the game as two years of Badger induced shame and misery is released by the Husker faithful. It is a wholly cathartic moment. Tim Beck is a genius! We never doubted Bo Pelini’s system! The ink is barely dry on the requisite “The Skies the Limit for the Huskers” columns before the first seeds of doubt are planted.

It starts with a contrarian tweet here. A piss in your Cheerios Facebook post there.

Big deal. The Huskers beat a team that lost to Northwestern.

The Badgers scored 17. Plan on Ohio State doubling that- if we can get past Minnesota and Iowa.

Wake me when the Huskers’ biggest win isn’t against a barely ranked team with two bad losses.

We’re still not going to make the playoff.

Our win would have looked so much better if Miami could have held off Florida State.

A few hours later, a snarky column by a certain Omaha World Herald staff writer is published that pinpoints a dire Husker week spot- 2rd down inefficiency on running plays to the short side of the field with less than a minute remaining when going into the wind during the second quarter. It’s such a bizarre nit to pick that fans rally to the defense of the team and coaching staff, righting the good ship Husker Optimism.

And then the College Football Playoff rankings are released.

Even with a convincing victory and a strong Miami effort against Florida State, the Huskers are the lowest ranked one loss team hovering just outside the top 10 and well out of playoff range.

Those same fans who weren’t impressed with the win in the first place are suddenly full of rage at the level of disrespect shown to the Huskers and Big Ten. Angry emails are sent. Calls are made to sports talk shows. An old-timer writes his Congressperson demanding an investigation. Family vacations to Disney World are canceled in a vain effort to keep money out of SEC territory.

HUSKER FAN VENN DIAGRAM
Husker fans diagrammed.

Even if the Huskers won out and finished the regular season 12 – 1, there’s a better chance a one loss TCU team (that doesn’t even have to play a conference championship game) would  snag the final playoff spot leaving the Big Red out in the cold and f-ed in the drive-thru by Texas and the Big XII yet again. In the inaugural year of the College Football Playoff, Husker Nation would have set a high bar for what it means to be a butt hurt fan base.

On the flip side, there’s still a chance the Huskers could lose out and finish the year 8 – 5, snapping that streak of 9 win seasons that didn’t mean much anyway. Just imagine if that happened. That’s six or seven SOLID weeks of justified complaining. Without a September loss or leaked tape this season, that would really make up for lost time on the bitching front.

Long story short, if there’s one thing Husker fans love as much as finger banging their egos with a winning football team, it’s getting to piss and moan about a losing one.

As hard as it can be, just sit back and try to enjoy the ride.

It will be over before you know it.

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