One day to go to the biggest Husker game in a long, long time. This one is for the Nebraska - Missouri Victory Bell, possibly the least known rivalry trophy in all college football. It's for last bragging rights, the kind of rights that cancel out all others.
Most importantly, it's for the Big 12 North. The Winner gets the inside track to the Big 12 Championship game. The loser gets lost in the national conversation, and gets to beat up little kids the rest of the season and go to an also-ran bowl game.
Gimme: Turnovers - Whomever commits the least, wins.
"What Happened To You Guys Against Texas?" I've gotten the question enough that I'm already sick of it, doubly-so after the suck that was Texas against Iowa State. So, aside from dropped balls, what was it? It was a 10-0 early Texas lead, that's what it was. It left our beloved Husker boys in a discombobulation from which they could not recombobulate themselves and go ahead for the big win.
Best way to avoid it again? Don't get behind early. Three, okay. Seven, okay. Ten, not okay. 14 and I'm thinking about the whiskey I snuck into Memorial in the sole of my shoe.
You can't depend on a Niles Paul 100-yard return every week, but you can do something about hanging onto the ball at home, especially deep in your own territory.
Don't Fart Around Faking It, Run the Damned Ball
What else happened during the Texas game?
(jim gaffigan voice: He keeps bringing it up. Maybe he could talk about hemorrhoids, too.)
The Texas defensive line stuffed the run game because Nebraska's backfield screwed around too long in making their decisions about who was going to carry the ball. There was just a moment too long with the ball lingering in someone's gut who wasn't going to carry it anyway.
Chalk that one up to a Taylor Martinez learning experience that, yes, Taylor, there are teams who have players as fast as you. Missouri's defensive line isn't fall of slouches, either, so just make your read, give or take the ball and hit the line moving quickly. Failure to do so and the Huskers run game can count on another stuffing.
Everyone Is Against You, Even Your Fans So Play Like It, Dammit!
Husker fans hurled insults at Bo Pelini after the Texas game. They taunted Niles Paul as he walked to his car with his family. The "Greatest Fans In College Football" had turned against the you.
(OMG, its so like hemorrhoids. Painful itching, irritating, and it won't go away!)
Then Dan Beebe burst into action (gasp!) and suspended one of your most dynamic players for hitting too hard. Your own conference has turned against you. Not like you didn't know that already, but this made it as plain as Beebe leading with his head.
They even brought back Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham as announcers this week so Cunningham can sneer at you and your hard-hittingness.
Who's left, your Mom?
Don't take any chances. Play for your coach and your teammates. Don't worry about the hometown fans and tell Ed Cunningham to kiss your ass, maybe during a sideline shot after a big play.
People can't ignore you when you win. Make it happen.
Get First Down Down
If you want to make an offense go, keep the defense guessing. The best way to do that is to stay out of sure passing downs. The best way to do that is to pick up positive yardage on first and second downs.
(He's a rocket scientist, this one)
It may be fun to watch Taylor Martinez scramble out of trouble and pick up a big gainer in long third down situations, but it does nothing to help me in my fight against alcoholism. It'd be nice to see a lot of second-or-third-and-one situations. There are so many more options. Get a short gain for a first, or play-action into long pass play to Brandon Kinnie, Niles Paul, Kyler Reed, or Mike McNeill.
Weapons, so many. Use ‘em all.
Our Big Fuglies Better Be Whoomier Than Yours
It's the sound of two elephants...
Oh, not really, it's the sound of linemen mashing into each other.
Nebraska is 79th nationally against the run. Missouri is 79th in rushing offense. One of them is going to be 80th or worse after this game is over, and it darned well better not be Nebraska if we expect to win.
Against Oklahoma State, you saw a Blackshirt defense give up a ton of yardage in the first half, then kick it in gear the second. The Huskers had more quarterback pressure, and shut down Justin Blackmon almost as well as a Texas police officer.
Will the Pelini brothers turn the defensive line loose to rush the passer the first half against Missouri, or will they be plugging gaps the entire game?
On the offensive side of the ball, Husker blockers need to beat their defensive counterparts to the point of attack on pulling plays, just like they need to get to the second level when they're not.
Bottom line - Husker linemen need to.. you know... whoom the other guys better than the other guys whoom them.