The story you've heard by now. Nebraska came out of the tunnel and blew UCLA's doors off for almost two quarters. The defense was making tackles and turnovers. The offense was taking advantage of UCLA's miscues. Nebraska's maligned and young defense was holding an explosive Bruin offense in check.
And then the bottom fell out. UCLA scores at the end of the half. Momentum swings. Then in the last ten minutes of the third quarter, the Bruins stifle the Husker offense and put up points with every drive. 28 points in ten minutes. And the game was over.
Explanations and excuses for the meltdown came from everywhere. Everyone has an opinion on what happened.
- Bo's defensive scheme has been exposed.
- The offense couldn't keep the ball long enough to give the defense rest.
- Tackling isn't emphasized enough.
- Tackling in space is too hard.
- The Bruins coaching staff out adjusted the Huskers again.
- Beck panics and gets away from what his offense does best.
- Coach Mora thinks his kids just had to wake up and play like themselves.
Well, on Sunday night I went to a 65th Birthday Party down here in Phoenix. The Valley of the Sun is covered with Nebraska fans. Sometimes we outnumber Sun Devil fans. At the party I ran into a Husker fan, and what he said caught me off guard. He said he'd never been more proud to be a Husker fan in his life. Odd words, in light of what had just happened. I asked him to explain.
He said "Our boys were just pummeling them. Jumped all over them and could have run up the score even more. But they saw what they were doing to those UCLA boys who had just lost a team mate. And our guys lost their fire. They saw the looks on the UCLA players, and let up because they felt sorry for them. I could see it in our boys faces in the second quarter before UCLA scored. They felt bad for them."
Sure, this is Team Sunshine gone super nova. And yes, I've questioned how he could have possibly observed what the boys were feeling. But it is an interesting perspective. And it certainly explains the inexplicable collapse of the dominating Husker performance of the first half.
So what do you think? Is this just too outlandish to consider? Or is it possible that what happened Saturday is bigger than winning football games?