I cannot believe what I’ve been both reading and hearing from the various talking heads and speds out there in college football netdom since the Thanksgiving game against ATM. It’s all over the Internet, radio, and television that "Nebraska has more than a puncher’s chance going up against Texas this weekend." Etc. Hell, you can find it on our own boards. The Sooner and ATM boards are begging for a Nebraska victory.
Have we learned nothing from watching this team perform over the past 2 years with McCoy at the helm of the offense and Muschamp at the helm of this defense? It doesn’t seem like it. Nevermind the conference chanting morons like Tim Brando and Gary Danielson. What have we seen each week with our own eyes?
To me, it’s pretty simple. Nebraska isn’t even in the same class as a program as we are. Frankly, I’m not sure they ever have been.
"CloseToJumping, Nebraska is one of the traditional powers of college football!?! They’re so rich in tradition that they make ATM jealous!"
Look, Nebraska’s ranking by some pundits and fanbases as a top 10 national program is built on surface level analysis of what they’re really about. They built a house of cards that stood for 40 years because of several very simple reasons.
1) They were allowed to take any moron with a pulse if the player could run, catch, tackle or throw. They built themselves into a power on the backs of a bunch of illiterates that teams in other conferences quite simply couldn’t admit. They were able to keep eligible the likes of Mike Rozier, an alcoholic mental patient; Irving Fryar, a wife-beating loudmouth; and Lawrence Philips, a functional retard with Thunder Collins-esque homicidal impulses. Nebraska was able for years to sign and enroll athletes as non-qualifiers. This gave them an amazing advantage against quality educational institutions in finer conferences than the Big 8 at a national level. When the Big 12 was founded, Texas required that the NQ/PQ players no longer be allowed to become enrolled for the 12 schools. This, along with moving the league offices to Dallas instead of Kansas City, was a concession we required. There was one dissenting vote on these matters - Nebraska. They hated us for the power play then, and they continue to hate us now. They like the power and prestige we bring to the conference though, given that the Conference USA or Mountain West wouldn't be too appetizing if we did move on.
Typing earlier of Philips, think about just how patently corrupt that entire organization is using him as a microstudy of what they’re about under the guidance of St. Tom Osbourne. This is a guy that beat the absolute shit out of his girlfriend, literally, according to some reports. He then drags her by her hair down a flight of stairs and proceeds to beat her some more. Osborne bravely suspends his star running back for a few games against the likes of Iowa State and Missouri and then calmly reinstates this piece of shit just in time for the national title game. What a man.
2) Further thinking on Osborne, if you look at what Nebraska’s really about, it’s very easy to realize that this program’s entire success was built around the good fortune of having two excellent, if slightly evil, head coaches run things in successive fashion. That program never did a damned thing before Devaney and hasn’t done anything since Osbourne took his ball and went home after being run out of the Big 12 by Texas. Most programs don’t get to have one great coach follow another, ever. Nebraska benefited in ways only Miami can relate to and now they’re getting a taste of reality like the rest of us.
Hilariously, Nebraska failed to understand this and refused to give the coaches after Osborne the same kind of patience and time to develop their own brand of winning culture. Look at Frank Solich. This poor bastard leads his alma mater to a national title game matchup a few years after Osborne is gone. Two years later, they’re firing the guy. He’s now on the verge of greatness, leading Ohio to what looks like an amazing comeback story and a MAC conference title. And then there’s Bill Callahan. This guy was effectively run off because he was a bad combination of short and intelligent. These are things that do not mix well in the heartland. And guess what’s happening now? That’s right, Bo Pelini is winning with Bill Callahan’s players. It will be interesting to see how patient they are with ol’ Bo when he’s struggling with his own talent.
3) Then there’s Boyd Epley and the legendary Nebraska strength and conditioning program. This is a man that has been acclaimed and lauded more than any other S&C guy in history because of his innovations in the Nebraska program. What’s rarely discussed is what the actual innovations have been. This is a guy that has certainly done a tremendous job of observing what’s being done in the livestock growth hormone space and adapting it into the cattle Nebraska runs through their OL, DL, and LB units. Why someone who’s led the way in steroid and other PED usage in college athletics is praised instead of pursued, in ways that would make Victor Conte and Barry Bonds seem sympathetic, is beyond me.
4) Finally, and this can’t be stressed enough, the Nebraska County Scholarship program has given that school a competitive advantage in ways that are virtually immeasurable. Brothers Mackovicka, the Count Monte Cristo, and, I believe, Eric Crouch, were all beneficiaries of the NCSP. This is a program that has skirted the NCAA scholarship limits for decades and continues to produce benefits for the program. There should be a damned investigation.
"But CTJ, this game is not a given. Remember playing Colorado in Dallas in 2001?!?"
How could I forget that game? It is the only time in my life in which I’ve actually vomited without being sick or drunk. Unfortunately for Nebraska, there aren’t a lot of similarities between the two games beyond location.
This Texas team has proven that it’s capable of showing up each and every week with one thing on its mind – winning. That 2001 team was lucky to be in the game to begin with and they acted like it.
This Texas team is complete. It has an offense that can score against anyone. We have a QB who has proven himself perfectly content to be playing and producing when every single thing he’s worked for is on the line. This defense isn’t the paper tiger that the 2001 proved itself to be. There is not only talent across the board on the defense, but the DC is a genius. In addition to these positives, our special teams are also ridiculous, and I don’t mean "rough the punter, kill all momentum and ruin the comeback" ridiculous. I mean, really, our STs could be the best in all of CFB. They’re excellent at blocking kicks/punts and returning kicks/punts. ST tackling has been spotty, but a healthy Kenny "LP" Vaccaro and Antwan Cobbs should remedy a lot of that against Nebraska’s pedestrian return groups. This team was in junior high or just starting high school when that 2001 game was played. That game is meaningless to them, as it should be. We replaced Cow Reese for Will Muschamp during these 8 years also. That's a bigger upgrade than moving from Omaha to Austin.
"Nebraska’s defense is the best we’ve seen all year!"
Nebraska’s defense is plenty good. Scipio gives a fine breakdown of it further down the threadlog and I generally agree with his takes. I don’t like their secondary as much, but it’s hard to discern what’s what back there against the 12 limpwrists that they’ve played. The very real truth is that this Nebraska defense has played one team worth a shit when it comes to throwing the ball – Texas Tech. They did ok against Tech’s backup, allowing around 250 yards while getting their heads beat in. Random Okie fan passing through might claim that OU is a solid passing team that Nebraska shut down, and I just suggest pointing at him and laughing. I haven’t seen a worse QB on the run than Landry Jones this season. Against Nebraska, he basically lived on the run and the Sooners were playing away from home, so they might as well have been playing against Honesty and Integrity, as the matchup was just as ugly for them.
Texas will have it’s hands full on offense against that Nebraska DL, but this is the kind of outing that wins Heismans for guys in McCoy’s spot and surely the staff knows that. If they’re moving him around and incorporating him into the running game, we should be fine. I am fairly certain that every skill position player on the Texas offense is faster than every single player on Nebraska’s "blackshirts".
We had the worst offensive gameplan of the year against the best defense we’ll play – OU. That was our offensive nadir of the season and it wasn’t strictly a result of that defense. Regardless, there is no Travis Lewis or Keenan Clayton on the Nowledge roster. We won’t see anywhere on the field a DB talent comparable to Franks or Jackson. The OU DL matches the Nebraska DL on a player by player basis and has more depth.
"Wait! Did you not watch the ATM game, CloseToJumping?!? Our defense was completely exposed."
This has been a rallying cry of talking heads from Friday forward. I’ll admit that I didn’t give ATM’s offense enough credit going into the game, but I find it absurd that they’re not getting any credit now. Johnson is going to be a legit badass next season and looked great against us. Fuller was, is, and will continue to be a highly regarded player. The same is true for Christine Michael. The ATM offense is very good and has a chance to be better next year with most players returning.
All of that considered, one thing was obvious and a number of us knew it going into the game and that point is basic – we’re weak at one of the Safety spots and a good offense can expose that particular weakness. With Aaron Williams not playing a ton and injured, we were forced to go one spot further down our rung and had to play both Gideon and Brewster for a chunk of the game. ATM took advantage, over, and over, and over again. On top of all of that, Chykie Brown pulled his usual bullshit and went to sleep on a few plays.
What does that mean in regard to Nebraska, however? More or less, nothing. Nebraska’s offense is an embarrassment to wet cement. It’s an effortless combination of sloth and monotony.
Prior to the season, HuskerLocker did us the favor of rating the OC’s within the Big 12. I remember reading it the morning it was posted and almost choking on my Chocolate Lucky Charms. There was hilarity throughout, but the high point was their ranking of the Nebraska OC at number 2, one spot above the pedestrian offensive strategist, Mike Leach. I came to BC later that evening and saw that Scipio had found it and deconstructed it here. Good times.
I fully expect Sergio Kindle to utilize the limp, lifeless body of the midget Rex Burkhead as a projectile weapon, hurled angrily at Zac Lee early in an effort to send a message. I’ve seen Nebraska this year against VT, ISU, KU, OU, and CU. I don’t know, maybe those aren’t the fairest games in which he should be judged. Perhaps I should have checked out his effort against ULaLa? In any event, in studying Zac Lee, the one important takeaway I’ve had is that for what he lacks in his ability to pass the ball effectively, he fails to make up for when it comes to leadership, composure, and doing anything with his legs. I think the guy should wear makeup on Saturday, because it’s going to make what we all witness look a little more tasteful. The game will become lopsided through the play of Lee alone. And Watson’s playcalling isn’t going to help anyone, unless said "anyone" enjoys further mocking HuskerLocker’s stoogery.
Roy Helu is the most recent in a long line of Nebraska tailbacks that you look at and say "He’s above average, but it doesn’t seem to matter… I wonder what he’ll wind up going to prison for?" Our defense has faced Rex Burkhead in every practice as Major Applewhite has been forced by Greg Davis to conjure the scout team spirit of Brett Robin. He’s also made of glass and will probably have to be airlifted due to a hamstring pull in the mid-first quarter.
I have been waiting for this defense to pitch a shutout all season and my read on it is that this will be the game. I’ll be knocked over by a feather if this defense gives up more than 250 yards outside of garbage time.
"So you like our odds, even up against Nebraska’s classy fanbase?"
Does anyone remember the story of the Nebraska fans that had their asses straight up beaten by some random Texas fan outside of the Alamodome in 1999? I remember thinking, "Oh, good, someone pulled up in their clowncar to embarrass our fanbase." I followed the story a bit and then the photos of the poor Nebraska fans were released. I believe it was one Texas fan that three Nowledge triplets attempted to jump for a funnel cake just outside of the stadium. Each one was pushing 3 bills and one of these "victims" was seen openly weeping in the midst of the photo montage. I expect to see more of the same from Nebraska on Saturday, both on the field and around the stadium. There won’t be enough concessions for their womenfolk, much less the progeny of Boyd Epley, so it could get ugly.
No matter. We walk to the national title game. 37-0.