Before we dive into my debut article as a member of the Corn Nation crew, allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Derek Hernandez and I am a 2006 graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a die-hard Nebraska fan. I follow Husker athletics year-round and don't think too fondly of "Jayskers". My particular sports of interest are Husker football, Nebrasketball, and Nebraska baseball.
I've been a long-time lurker of this site and you may actually recognize me from the Corn Nation Conversation episode I appeared in back in June. I am also the founder of the Midwest-centric sports website, nocoastbias.com, that has been featured on ESPN and CNNSI.com.
I currently work professionally in online marketing, social media and public relations, but I have a great passion for covering sports. I am excited to be a part of the Corn Nation team as I feel I can provide a unique perspective and learn a ton from collaborating with the talented writing staff on the site. I'm also thrilled to interact with Corn Nation community and to get into a debate or two.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let's see how you can survive Nebraska's second bye week this month.
After posting some scary (see: TERRIBLE) defensive numbers the first month of the season, a bye week was more than a welcome sight for Bo Pelini and company. Game plans were tweaked, fundamentals were preached and rotations were adjusted, all of which resulted in two consecutive dominant performances against Illinois and Purdue. Let's be honest, we haven't seen the Big Red execute this well on both sides of the ball against a BCS conference opponent since last November. Yes, the fact the Blackshirts matched up with two of the Big Ten's perennial bottom feeders was a huge factor, but there's no denying the young pups on the Nebraska defense benefited from the extra preparation time.
The Huskers are now in the midst of their second bye week in four weeks, and the open week may or may not be as fruitful as round one, but there's one thing I know for sure. For all the die-hards out there, this will be... The. Longest. Week. Ever.
Unlike the weekend of the first bye week, we don't have the Breaking Bad finale to look forward to. Walter White is off in blue heaven. That honey-do list you ignored once the college football season kicked off? Yeah, that was begrudgingly attended to during the open week.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few doozies out there in this week's slate of games so there's college football to be watched. The Florida State-Clemson clash is a potential game of the year candidate and the UCLA Bruins could ease the pain of our second half meltdown if they pull off a win in Palo Alto against the Stanford Cardinal, but it's just not the same as tailgating underneath the 10th street bridge with hundreds of your drunken, red-clad friends or fist-pumping fellow alumni at your local watch site.
Worry not, fellow children of the corn. Just like Ameer Abdullah racking up a c-note's worth of yards every time he steps on the field, you can count on Corn Nation to deliver the goods.
Here are a few things that'll keep every Husker fan busy during the bye week:
In case you haven't heard, the Huskers and Oregon Ducks have agreed to play in Lincoln in 2016 and in Eugene in 2017. Other than the obvious excitement of scheduling a premier program and the brain-bending uniform possibilities of Adidas and Nike going head-to-head in a game of one-upmanship, THE most interesting development of this news is what will be the fate of Scott Frost prior to the first match-up.
Will he be the Head Duck at Oregon by then? Will he be making his name at a mid-major? Or, as many Husker fans that I will now label "Frosticles" predict and hope, will Scott Frost be back "home" leading the Cornhusker program? Where will be Bo be coaching by 2016?
Thinking up all the hypotheticals that could lead Frost back to Lincoln will surely take up a night or two of the bye week.
Relive The Classic In Happy Valley
If you ever wanted to see two teams lose and win the same game multiple times, the Penn State-Michigan classic from last Saturday is must-see TV. No matter what happens the rest of the college football season, this game will be entrenched in the top two or three of every "Games of the Year" list you see. It was that good.
Do yourself a favor and catch any and all replays on the Big Ten Network. If your old lady asks you why you're watching this game for the 15th time, just say your scouting future opponents. We have to be prepared for that miss-a-game-winning-field-goal-but-block-the-opponent's-game-winning-field-goal-or-at-least-make-them-miss play that Penn State ran to perfection last Saturday night, don't we?
WARNING: Watching this game will make you sob uncontrollably for the days of Alex Henery.
We Are Legends
Before the season began, if you asked six college football fans who would win the West division you would've gotten six different answers. Ok, maybe five since even the most optimistic Gopher wouldn't have picked their own school to earn a trip to Indy. (Editor's Note: Since Derek is still getting up to speed, we'll let it pass that we don't use Legends/Leaders here at CN. We'll beat him into submission soon, count on it!)
Only two teams with unblemished conference records remain, Michigan State and Nebraska, and none of the teams are without their flaws. Northwestern may be the most complete team of the bunch, but the last time we saw them they were getting battered by the Badgers and they are currently in a 0-2 conference hole. Michigan was riding high after their then impressive win over the Fighting Irish back in September, but then they proved they are an entirely different team on the road and quarterback Devin Gardner is a turnover machine.
Iowa is the broken-record of fivesome as they haven't done anything this season to make you think they are that much more improved from recent years. Michigan State has been flat out dominant on defense, but their offense has been suspect. The Huskers have put up points at an impressive clip, but their woes on the defensive side of the ball have been well documented.
In short, the prediction that the division was up for grabs has come to fruition and whichever team makes it to Indianapolis will have earned their shot at the Big Ten title.
Unless you think Nebraska will run the table, thinking up all the scenarios in which the Huskers can drop one or two games and still make it to the ‘ship will 1) make your head hurt and 2) take up a few of your lunch breaks this week.
Please leave your scenarios in the comments section so we can reference them when we're all scrambling to make sense of the final weeks of conference play.
Recruit, Recruit, Recruit
Do you know it's been about seven weeks since the Huskers last snagged a recruit?
(Snarky remarks redacted)
Houston product Josh Kalu committed while I was completing this write-up. No need to carry out my request for vigilante recruiting...yet.
Use the bye week to concoct the most original Halloween costume ever. Who am I kidding? You know you're just going to purchase a 1970's afro and a blue shirt to put underneath your number 80 Husker jersey and call it a day.
How will you pass the time during the Husker's second bye week?
(Editor's note: Hopefully your Halloween costume involves a kilt. Amirite?)