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South Alabama: Game Day Pep Talk

Husker Fam,

Well, we did it. We made it to game day.

The day that we never thought would get here after nearly ten long and lonely months has finally arrived.

A little later today, 2018’s best 4 – 8 team will be taking the field to kickoff their 2019 campaign against South Alabama.

It’s not the Alabama any of us want but it’s a start. If the Huskers can get the ball rolling and knock off the South Alabama Jaguars tomorrow (and let’s face it, it’s not much of an if), that will be a good first step on a journey towards a bigger goal that will eventually end with a face-off against Alabama. You know, the one that’s a dynasty reminiscent of Husker teams from the days of yore.

Since the whistle blew in Iowa City last November, all of us have endured zingers and insults from friends and foes aligned with other colleges.

“How can someone endure back-to-back 4 and 8 seasons?” they ask.

“How can we not?” we reply.

We’ve all been patiently waiting and biding our time as the light at the end of the tunnel grows bigger and brighter.

We’re going to get there eventually but until then, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

It’s about to become a lot of fun.


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View from the Boneyard: South Alabama

Between a 7pm kickoff time, the end of the BYU game, and the fact that we were playing South Alabama, none of us were too concerned about arriving at Memorial Stadium that early to secure our seats.

Lo and behold, there were a whopping 15 people in line at East stadium when our group arrived just a half an hour before doors opened. Even the line to South stadium seemed to be slacking attendance-wise.

Our usual group had grown even larger than before, making it even more crucial for us to save two rows of seats. I met a new Minnesotan friend that had the same phone and phone case as me, though, which was pretty cool but also kind of eerie.

In typical fashion, doors opened for South stadium minutes before East stadium got let in, leaving the older students to sit and watch as the freshmen and sophomores try to blur the line between the definitions of walking and running.

The Boneyard Challenge was brought back during this game, which takes students from both sections and has them compete in a game out on the field. This time, it involved the bubbles.

The first big hits of the day at Memorial Stadium.

There’s something oddly satisfying about watching people in giant bubbles run full speed into each other to try to knock each other down. Right out of the gate, my roommate completely annihilated the other girl. I’ve never been more proud.

One of my favorite additions for this season are other games being played on the HuskerVision screens before the game starts. Watching Notre Dame v. Virginia helped passed the time, especially watching my die-hard Notre Dame fan friend react to the end of the game.

Once our game started, it didn’t take long for the Huskers to show that they meant business. An interception by Nate Gerry on the Jaguars’ first possession sent the student section from nonchalant to exploding, which was exactly the momentum that we needed after a heartbreaking loss the week before.

Terrell Newby gets the Huskers on the board and balloons in the air.

Soon after, I was challenged by some of our newcomers to the group to see if I could get us on the big screen. This is the one challenge that I never take lightly, so I told them to just sit back and watch.

Between being a theatre kid and a broadcasting major, being in front of a camera and an audience is pretty comforting to me, so getting the attention of a camera guy seems almost second nature. Focused in on a camera in West stadium, I had acquired my target.

I spent the entire first quarter directing all of my singing, dancing, and random posing at the one camera in hopes that they would notice me. When I say entire first quarter, I mean it. Soon after, HuskerVision had made it clear that this was war as nothing but my face graced each screen in Memorial Stadium.

Zooming out, the screen was soon filled with embarrassing shots of me and my friends pulling out our stupidest dance moves and cheering. Honestly, if you’re trying to look cool on the big screen at a sporting event, you’re doing it wrong.

Once halftime hit, I immediately look for two of my roommates next to me. Our fourth roommate is on the flag line, and the day before we had made it clear to her that we were going to embarrass her while she performed.

As everyone else sat down watching the show, we were standing up against the gate dancing and cheering for our roommate, Hannah. With the way that I was acting, you would think that I was a mom on Toddlers and Tiaras and Hannah was competing for Ultimate Grand Supreme.

Not long into the 3rd quarter, a touchdown from Imani Cross put the Huskers up 31-0. At this point, I had scream-sang the words to Hail Varsity so many times that I’m still surprised that I haven’t learned the middle part yet. But considering that I hadn’t even known that there were words to Hail Varsity until my junior year, I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

A 36-yard field goal for South Alabama almost seemed like the end of the world after keeping the Jaguars scoreless for nearly three quarters. Had you looked at their fans’ section afterwards, you’d think that they were right back in the game at that point.

It wasn’t long after that when suddenly I found myself completely unable to dance to the music being played. Other than Jump Around (thanks, Wisconsin), there’s only one song that I refuse to celebrate to: Chelsea Dagger. Being Minnesotan and a die-hard hockey fan, I just can’t bring myself to dance and cheer during the Blackhawks’ goal song.

The camera guy that I had been harassing the entire night had taken notice to my sudden lack of dancing, as he put my entire group of dancing friends on the big screen with me just out of the shot. Touché, camera man.

With nearly half of Memorial Stadium cleared out at this point, South Alabama had finally scored their first touchdown of the night with just under five minutes left. A failed 2 point conversion attempt left the Huskers with a 48-9 victory and left us contemplating whether it’s too late to plan a road trip down to Miami for next weekend.

Huskers Get The Win
A welcome site to see after last week’s heartbreaking finish.

Hayley Archer is a senior Broadcasting major at UNL. Follow her on Twitter at @Harchinator.

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Sunday Morning Hot Takes: South Alabama Edition

So that’s what a Mike Riley rushing attack looks like, eh? The Huskers racked up 258 yards on ground en route to rolling South Alabama 48 – 9 and we rounded up some hot takes.

Let’s get to ’em.

Our prediction:

Hey, we weren’t too far off…

THIS WAS THE PERFECT REBOUND GAME: The Huskers came out playing good ol’ smashmouth football. It was a glorious sight to see that had to have the blue hairs peeling off their oxygen masks to breathe a collective sigh of relief. The loss against BYU seemed to stick in the Huskers’ craw and as long is they didn’t vent all their frustrations on South Alabama, they should be in a good spot for next week’s dance with the Miami Hurricanes. They’ve proved they can run with a solid team out of the gate in BYU, they’ve been punched in the mouth (thanks, BYU) and now, most of the kinks have been ironed out on both sides of the ball. We should get our first real glimpse of this team’s potential next week.

MIKE RILEY: Did you see him sharing a laugh with an official? The fact that he was wearing a grey hoodie and khakis made the scene even more surreal. Could that have been next level trolling?


Another week, another killer block by Nebraska’s QB. Tommy went 21 for 30 (67%) for 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns. To the best of my recollection, he only threw one WTF pass, an absolute slingshot that missed its wide open target by a good ten yards. Tommy only rushed twice for a grand total of four yards. His lack of rushing was probably an intentional plan to keep him safe but his wheels could be a difference maker next Saturday.

TERRELL NEWBY: More like Terrell Salty Veteran, am I right? 28 carries, 198 yards, 3 TDs. Not too shabby of a way to finally get that long awaited breakout game for the junior from Los Angeles. After the first two games of the season, Newby stands at 231 yards rushing. His freshman and sophomore seasons were virtually identical with him rushing for 298 and 297 yards respectively. Will one semi-redonkulous game be enough of a swagger boost before heading down to Miami?

JAMAL TURNER: After his incomplete pass, he didn’t make an appearance until it was the Fyfe Show. Is the ninth year senior sliding down the depth chart?

30/32: The Huskers’ longest passing and rushing plays on the night. While a slight bump up  from last week, the offense isn’t exactly becoming The Langsdorf Explosion.

THE BLACKSHIRTS: Nate Gerry stretched his interception streak to two games. There were a couple sacks, a beastly forced fumble when South Alabama was backed up against their own end zone, and defense came up Millhouse when South Alabama kept going for it on fourth down. Now, if only they could only work on that whole getting-torched-on-the-deep-ball thing. That could pose trouble next week against Miami. That fool at they have a QB can chuck it, remember?

ROOT FOR BYU: Tanner Mangum pulled ANOTHER miracle out of his behind against Boise State, chuckling a wobbly duck for a touchdown on fourth and long with under a minute to play and down three. The Cougars then iced the game with a pick six on Boise State’s first play on the ensuing drive to put the final score at 35 – 24. The Coug’s next two games are on the road against UCLA and Michigan. If they keep running the table, it will make the Huskers’ loss look (and maybe feel) a little less worse.

EX-BOFRIEND UPDATE: Like Mike, Bo notched his first win tonight in an overtime victory against Robert Morris. You’d think the Penguins could have won in regulation considering they were playing against one lone dude. Hope Mr. Morris recovers quickly.

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Get pumped up Husker Nation — We’re playing Alabama Tonight!

For those of you who like omens when it comes to predicting the outcomes of future football games — how’s this for Nebraska’s impending epic showdown with Alabama on Saturday:

The last time the Crimson Tide came to Lincoln, it was a crisp September day, the second game of the season, Nebraska was 0-1 and unranked in the polls — and it was a year in which a Star Wars movie premiered in theaters.

September 17, 1977.

BAMAbernsRick Berns racked up 128 yards on 23 carries the last time Alabama rolled into Lincoln.

Low and behold, what’s in store for this year’s match up with Bama?

Crisp September day — check! Second game of the season — check! Nebraska is 0-1 and unranked in the polls — check! And Star Wars, Episode Abrams hits theaters this December — check!

What happened when the same ingredients were thrown into the mix back in 1977?

The hapless Huskers took down the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide 31-24 in what was then described as the “most colorful and emotional effort of the Tom Osborne era.” It would be the only time Bear Bryant would be beaten that season.

So, fasten your seat belts and get ready for a little case of history repeating itself. Bama is going DOWN!

Okay, okay… Enough shenanigans. The boys from Tuscaloosa aren’t heading to Lincoln this year or any year currently scheduled. Instead we’re getting a group of guys from Mobile, most of whom would never make the three deep on their in-state blue-blood to the North’s loaded roster.

But is that any reason not to get fired up all the same?

After the heart-attack inducing final second of the BYU game, maybe the tailgaters in downtown Lincoln could use a bit of a relaxer. A situation in which something resembling a football game takes place, but the outcome of the contest is never in doubt.

Enter, the (South) Alabama Jaguars.

Vegas puts Nebraska as a 27-point favorite. I’m thinking, take the Huskers and the points. Riley and company will look to make a statement Saturday night— the rust is gone. The inconsistencies that allowed BYU to own the second quarter (while Nebraska owned pretty much everything else) have been worked out of the system. And you will see a precision machine ready to combine the remainder of the unharvested schedule.

For casual observers of the game, this sort of match-up tends to be boring. My wife asks, “Who wants to watch a fifty-point blowout, anyway?”

The answer, always, is, “Me.”

Several years ago when the Huskers were still in the Big 12, I was watching Nebraska vs. Colorado at the In-Laws’ house. My wife’s stepbrother, Mike, was there. A rabid Husker fan who, for the fun of it, resides in Boulder just on the principal of keeping your enemies closer.

Nebraska, beating the Buffs by three scores late in the game, drove deep into CU territory when they get stopped on a third and short. My wife’s stepbrother leapt into the air and shouted, “God damn it!”

The Huskers kicked a field goal to pad their lead, but Mike was still fuming. He wouldn’t let go of the idea that Nebraska blew a chance to tack on another touchdown.

My wife looked at me, rolling her eyes. I knew what she was thinking — Nebraska’s got the game won. What’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal was something that Mike and I both knew. Nebraska wasn’t merely playing Colorado (who, by this time had been driven by Dan Hawkins to the conference cellar). Nebraska was competing against the hypothetical performances of other upper-tier football teams were they to also play the Buffs. So beating Colorado by three touchdowns isn’t sufficient if you can imagine Ohio State, Alabama, or Oregon beating them by five or six.

This was a concept well established by the time I started following the Huskers in the 1980s. Hammering Utah State 63-13 the second game into the 1988 season wasn’t a mere act of inhospitality. It was a necessity. Because you just knew that if Oklahoma or Florida State were wailing on the Aggies that day, they’d be doing it by at least as much. Utah State was not so much an opponent, but a gauge. A way to judge whether or not the Huskers looked capable of toppling a big dog.

Bill Bryson, the well known travel-writer/humorist once described attending a Husker game as Nebraska leading their outmatched opponent by six touchdowns, while the obnoxious throng in the stands brayed for more.

Bryson obviously doesn’t get it. He comes from a world in which 17-point wins over the likes of Illinois State are no cause for concern. That world is called Iowa.

But, for fans west of the Missouri River, we know better.

When (South) Alabama falls five or six touchdowns behind the Huskers on Saturday, that’s when the collective nerves at Memorial Stadium will first be soothed. Because Alabama will actually be down on the turf, too. Facing off against the Jaguars, superimposed over the Scarlet and Cream.

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Ten Things to Know About The South Alabama Jaguars

10. 1963 – The year the University of South Alabama (USA, USA, USA) was established.

9. 2009 – The inaugural season for the South Alabama Jaguars football team. They finished 7-0, playing a slate of home games against military prep academies.

8. 2014 – The first season South Alabama qualified for a bowl game. They posted a 6 – 7 regular season record (5 – 3 in the Sun Belt Conference, good enough for 6th place) and faced Bowling Green in the Camellia Bowl, which turned out to have a wild finish. The Falcons had to fight off a 4th quarter rally by the Jaguars before locking up a 33 – 28 victory.

Joey Jones got kicked in the face at the Camellia Bowl and kept on coachin’.

7. 6 years – If you’re too lazy to do the math or make the connection between the previous two facts, South Alabama went from absolute zero to a bowl game by its sixth season which pretty much means that Jaguars coach Joey Jones is like the ultimate Tim Miles but instead of inheriting a mid-level team and a sweet new arena,  he built his program from flippin’ scratch.

6. $60 – Three Andrew Jacksons will get you a SEASON TICKET in the end zone at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for South Alabama’s entire home schedule. You may have seen Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the news recently when Donald Trump held a rally there resulting in this glorious, glorious photo.

Crazy Lady at Trump Rally

5. Number 5While South Alabama might not be long on tradition, the tradition of who wears number 5 is one that any football fan can respect. Each year, Coach Jones selects a senior to wear number 5 in memory of running back Anthony Mostella who died in a motorcycle accident at age 22 in 2010. This year’s number 5 is running back Terrance Timmons, a 5’7″ 180lb speedster who broke off a 49 yard run last week against Gardner-Webb.

4. 17,444 – The average attendance for a Jaguars home game last season including a season high 38,129 who turned up when South Alabama hosted Mississippi State (who was unranked at the time.) And while we’re here, we might as well point out that the largest crown South Alabama ever played in front of was 87,266 on the road against Tennessee in 2013.

3. Xavier Johnson – The redshirt sophomore running back could very well be South Alabama’s X-Factor (zing!) this season. Last week he made the most of Joey Jones’ game time decision to name him starter. He broke off a school record 92 yard touchdown run and added a 56 yard touchdown run for good measure.

2. Spread offense – Depending on who you believe, South Alabama’s spread offense could give Mark Banker’s Blackshirts a hard time or be right in his wheelhouse.

1. One – As in the number of starters the Jaguars return on defense. South Alabama operates out of a 4-2-5 base defense (what TCU runs) which can be help level the field for inexperienced defensive units. If the Huskers want to get their running game figured out, the Jaguars could provide a great test.


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