The parallels between last night and the 1994 Orange Bowl are simply stunning. Nobody gave Nebraska a chance, and presumed the opponent would dominate in their home state. Nebraska takes the lead on a field goal in the final two minutes, then kicks the ball out of bounds, gives up a costly penalty to set up the game winning field goal. Even had the refs put a second back on the clock.
It's painful, to be sure... but the true test of character is how you respond to adversity. In 1994, that ending knawed at the team for months. "Unfinished Business" was the theme, and that 1993 season was the first year of the greatest five year run in modern college football history.
Nebraska had plenty of opportunities to win the game last night. Nebraska's not "back"...but game by game, they are becoming more and more relevent on the national scene. Keep making progress and resolve to never allow this program to be in those circumstances again should be the goal. Last night should stick in the craw of this program like 16-14 did.
Don't get mad, get even.
Here's how last night graded out; as always, your comments are always welcome!QB: Texas leads the league in rushing defense, passing defense, and total defense. So it should not be a surprise that Nebraska struggled on offense last night. But even so, that doesn't excuse some of the mistakes Zac Lee made last night. Underthrowing a wide open Niles Paul against Kansas State could be forgiven because an underthrow was better than an overthrow in that situation. (A better pass to Brandon Kinnie on 3rd and goal could have been a game changer as well...) Underthrowing a well-covered Paul against Texas was deadly. That being said, Lee made the plays on that final drive to get Nebraska into position to kick that field goal. I'm also not ready to put Cody Green out there either; watching Green's throw on 3rd down out of the end zone was uncomfortable, to say the least. Grade: D+
IB: I know there wasn't much room out there but Nebraska hasn't had that type of futility in the running game since playing Miami in the Orange Bowl in the early 90's. Was Roy Helu banged up more than we thought? Rex Burkhead had more carries...and was less effective. It could be because of blocking; Helu had a key miss on a blitz pickup that resulted in a sack of Lee. Grade: F
WR: Niles Paul could have helped Zac Lee out by catching that pass on a crossing route on 3rd and 8 late in the 2nd quarter. But Brandon Kinnie made a couple of nice catches last night, including the key pass on that final drive. Grade: C-
OL: Not respecting the Nebraska passing game made life difficult on the o-line...but still Lee, Helu, and Burkhead needed more from this group. James Dobson, you've done great work overall, but there's still more to be done. Grade: F
DL: Could you ask for ANYTHING more from Ndamukong Suh? 12 tackles, 7 for losses? I'll let Beergut from IamThe12thMan.com speak for us, because when we say it, we can be dismissed as homers. Grade: 110%.
Secondary: You can tell that the secondary is really playing well when Alfonzo Dennard becomes the whipping boy for making a bad play. Solid, if not spectacular play from everybody. Grade: A
Special Teams: Alex Henery didn't tilt the field on punts, but was solid. Kunalic was outstanding on his first few kickoffs...but oh, that final kickoff hurt and hurt badly. Niles Paul's punt return was simply amazing. So grade it a B overall.
Coaching: The defensive gameplan was absolutely outstanding; the defense was ready for just about everything Texas tried to throw at the Huskers. Offensively, well, Shawn Watson can only play the cards he's got, and he's playing with a short deck. That's something Bo Pelini and Watson will need to address in the weeks ahead, but for now, it's what should have been expected. Grade: A
Overall: A- Nebraska did everything they could do last night...it just wasn't enough.
Elsewhere in College Football
Alabama: A Congratulations for earning your spot in the BCS championship game.
BCS: F Some people keep touting a "Plus-1" model as the solution for the BCS. Well, what about this season where you have Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State in the mix. Uh oh.
Pitt: B- How important are extra points now? I've got to admit that I had mixed feelings on that. I harbor no love for Pitt, but the idea of matching up Nebraska and Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl was just too delicious to overlook