Thirteen years, three failed conference title games. Time to erase that heartache for both Bo Pelini and Nebraska.
Sometime, maybe this afternoon, after all the laundry was done from the Huskers 13-7 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City Friday afternoon, will Bo and staff decide how to approach the second game of this year vs. Wisconsin. This one, of course is much more important, as this will decide the Big 10 Championship in Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night.
We have been down this road two times with Bo Pelini, once in 2009 and 2010 as both times, the Huskers were beat out on the field at Cowboys Stadium for the Big 12 title. In '09, we all remember :01 and how if Nebraska had half of the offense they instill now, they would have won. We also remember how in '10, freshman Taylor Martinez along with the defense just couldn't keep a 17-0 lead in the second quarter against Oklahoma. Furthermore, you can't forget the 2006 B12 title game where Nebraska couldn't beat the Sooners again on a cold night in Arrowhead.
Now, Nebraska enters a tussle with an improved Badgers team. Nebraska, too, has gotten better especially on defense since that September 29th night where both teams had their Adidas jerseys changed for better or worse.
The Badgers have won 4 of 6 games with Senior QB Curt Phillips replacing Joel Stave, who went out against Michigan State with a broken clavicle. It's obvious that Bret Bielema and OC Matt Canada trust Phillips more than Danny O'Brien right now. What's more obvious is that Sr. RB Montee Ball has gotten better with 4 games over 160 yards since his sub-100 yard night vs Nebraska.
However, no matter the opponent, the Huskers are battling a history that hasn't been quite kind to them. One that has had a hold on this program ever since that Saturday in the AlamoDome in San Antonio in December 1999. Do you remember that day?
(thanks Big 12 Conference)
Now, I don't know about you folks, but I was 23 years old in 1999. Back then, I was working 10 hour days and didn't have one thought that I wouldn't see another conference title for at least a full decade plus. And, quite honestly, neither did much of you.
Some of you admonish me for being tough on people like Taylor Martinez and Bo Pelini, and maybe I am. However, I truly think that, to be remembered in Nebraska Football history, you must be able to bring a conference title to the school. I mean, there are patches on the jersey that say "NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: A WINNING TRADITION". And, hell bent to whatever, they don't make sure to list 10 win seasons and such on the side of the pressbox (even though they are nice).
You all tell me how good of a HC Bo is? You all want me to grovel over Taylor's numbers and such? I can, as long as that conference title is there. Maybe it's not fair, but that's why Bo was hired and Taylor was put in the position he was. Matter of fact, it's why EVERYONE is where they are in the Nebraska Football program. To win the conference. BCS bowls are nice too, but normally one follows the other.
Now, I am not saying that this season isn't validated by NOT winning the B1G title, because this team has surpassed what we thought it would be, especially after the Ohio State debacle to start October. 6-0 after the bye? An offense that kept meshing without Rex Burkhead? Four come from behind wins? A defense that got better as fall went along? Not many thought this would be possible back when the game at Columbus ended.
To send off Tom Osborne with a Rose Bowl on his final day on the AD job would be fantastic for both the program and the state. To hell with playing Oregon or Stanford, just get to the Rose Bowl and win that title in Indy.
Because as John Madden once said, "Winning is a fantastic deodorant". This deodorant would take away two failed attempts for Bo, three full whiffs at a conference title game, and 13 years of unfulfilled conference dreams.