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Think Positive Thoughts: A Nebraska Football Round Table

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We had negative thoughts so now lets take some time for a few positive ones.

Colorado v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

A few weeks ago we published our “Negative Thoughts” round table. I told you we had a positive thoughts round table coming and just in time following the commitment of the #37 player on the country in Thomas Fidone. The #1 player in Iowa.

So.

Here.

We.

Go!

What do you love about Nebraska football?

Akelo: The unparalleled fan support. The culture & tradition. The atmosphere on game day in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Andy: So many things - hope springs eternal every fall. And despite constant stories about our horrible weather, falls in Nebraska are the best. Tommie Frazier. Eric Crouch. Terrell Farley. Rex Burkhead. Turner Gill. Ahman Green. Yes, DeAngelo Evans. Lavonte David. The Peters. Grant Wistrom. The Browns. Derek Brown. Tom Osborne. Bo Pelini. Scott Frost. The Bobfather. Power Right. Option Left. TE Deep Middle. Speed City. OK, I’m going to do this for awhile. Continue amongst yourselves.

Nate M: I remember my first year of law school. There were many students not from Nebraska. I saw them the following Monday after the first game and they said they were blown away by how everything turns red on a Husker gameday. “It was like a sea of red.” We have a ton of differences. It could be political, religious, demographic or however you want to look at it but when Nebraska football comes up it seems to unite us even just for a little bit.

Jon: It re-connects me with my home I left in 1987. No matter where I go I’m still Nebraskan and I can find friendship in someone wearing a Husker t-shirt or at a gathering all over the nation. So many shared memories with people who love the same thing; it brings us all together in all kinds of weather.

Briannna C: The excitement and anticipation for each season to begin. The way much of the state shuts down or stops for Game Day. How even in the worst seasons I’m still looking forward to the next game.

Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): It reminds me of simpler times. It’s the one bit of childhood, like real childhood before my parents got divorced, that’s remained with me into adulthood, and no one questions it. I get to retreat into a different version of me on Saturdays. Like, I’m still nerdy ol’ Pat, but it’s a different kind of nerdy that’s only acceptable in-season and on gamedays.

Mike: My parents have had season tickets since two years before I was born. Fall revolved around Nebraska football. It’s not even a question to me; it’s ingrained as part of me: faith, family, football. This is going to be the weirdest fall for me ever, because it’ll be 14 weeks of “bye” weeks. I never used to mind bye weeks, because it helped make sure I got things out of the way before December. But with no Husker football to look forward to? It is going to be longest, darkest fall ever.

Patrick: Stephen Potter. He was the “hot dog man” at Husker football games for year. Maybe I was just luck to be in a section that he walked through so I saw him a lot. He was a lawyer by trade in Gothenburg and was a hot dog slinger at football games for 36 years. It has been a long time since he walked those steps. He passed away last October at the age of 76. Here’s a video of him and his story. CBS won’t let me put it in the article so give it a click.

It’s guy’s like him that are different that make me love Nebraska football. People from all walks of life love the sport. I think that’s why I always enjoyed him. He didn’t wear you typical Husker gear. Stephen also didn’t just throw on a bunch of crazy Halloween costumes to stand out. He had his own style to his fandom. It was in inherently him.

We need more fans like Stephen.

What is your favorite win in Nebraska football history?

Mike: Well, I have to go to the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, where the Huskers crushed a Florida team that some thought had too much SEC speed for the Huskers to handle. Oooooooops.

Akelo: If I gotta go old school, I gotta go with the flea kicker game, 1997 Nebraska @ Missouri in Columbia. That was UNBELIEVABLE. If I gotta go new school, the 2016 Oregon game was amazing, when you thought Oregon was about to truck us we fought back. The last 4 minutes of the 4th quarter is still bananas. Fun fact: did you know Matt Lubick was Oregon's offensive coordinator in that game?

Andy: 1995 Orange Bowl. Just a release of years of pent-up frustrations and heart-crushing losses. Watching the last several minutes unfold and knowing that this time we finally had those dog-ass Hurricanes and no miracles would save them. Primal screams, bear hugs and tears when it was finally over.

“It ain’t where I been, fat boy, it’s where I’m going.”

Nate M: Trying to think outside the box. I was on the field during our 9-6 win over Michigan State in 2018. The scene after the game was amazing. The snow floating through the air and the seniors going out with a win.

Jon: I’m with Andy. When Miami went up 10-0, it was like “Oh my God, not again”, but then we stomped them into the ground in the end. Frank Costa was battered in that game. You guys listened to the Big Red Cobcast interviews with him, right?

Brianna C: The 1998 Orange Bowl vs Tennessee. I remember all the hype around Peyton Manning and that the announcers couldn’t stop talking about him. (It’s like they thought he was NFL material or something). Then we went in there and took control of the game. It took me a decade or two to stop disliking Peyton Manning. Also, the 2013 Northwestern game, a game winning Hail Mary is always going to be one of my favorites.

Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): I’m going off the board. I know it’s not technically a win, but Nebraska deserved to win the ‘94 Orange Bowl against Florida State. The Huskers completely outplayed a 17.5-point favorite and proved they belonged. I was disappointed, but I also left that New Year’s party as optimistic as I’d ever been about Husker football. I was only 10 years old at that point, but I also already knew and felt the statewide disappointment of the program, and I had the thought in my mind, “Is Nebraska actually allowed to compete for things like the national title?” I went to bed that night knowing that not only are they allowed, it was going to happen very soon.

Patrick: Probably the first game I ever went to. Honestly, I can’t tell you which one it was. Which, is kind of sad but back then there were so many wins. It was in the early 90’s. I want to say 1990. I went to the game with my dad and grandpa. I got a balloon that I let go of when Nebraska scored it’s first touchdown. It was a warm sunny day.

What is the best football game Nebraska has played in in regards to the quality of the football by both teams?

Mike: Oooh.... both teams! That implies that it wasn’t a blowout. I think it comes down to the 1994 and 1995 Orange Bowls. The 1994 game was marred by incompetent, hallucinating referees, but both Florida State and Nebraska played pretty well in that one. I’ll give the edge to the 1995 game, though, because aside from Miami not being able to punt the ball, that was a pretty clean, hard fought game from both teams.

Andy: I would agree with the 1994 Orange Bowl. Nebraska and Florida St matched up with top-notch offenses and defenses and it was a shame the quality of the refereeing wasn’t up to the task. For honorable mention, I would throw in 2001 Nebraska-Oklahoma when they were Nos. 1 & 2 in the BCS. Two stellar defenses shut down some serious offensive power on both sides with the Sooners holding Eric Crouch in check until his 63-yard Heisman moment.

Nate M: 2001 Nebraska-Oklahoma was my pick too.

Jon: It would be easy to put 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma here, but few people remember all of that game. 1982 Nebraska-Oklahoma was a wonderful game! I’d have to go with the 1995 Orange Bowl. So many future stars on that Miami defense and they were gassed at the end.
Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): In spite of the result and some of the other things that marred the game (namely officiating), that ‘94 Orange Bowl remains at the top of my list. Obviously that year’s Heisman Trophy winner was playing, two all-time coaching legends going for their first national championship, Tommie and LP really coming out as stars, Trev Alberts gutting through a grisly injury, Corey Dixon playing the damn game of his life, and two absolutely desperate teams with a ton of pressure on them to finally come through. That was a physical, emotionally charged game with a lot on the line. And then you throw in the alternate storyline with Notre Dame waiting breathlessly for the result, and it was just amazing theatre.

Patrick: 1971 Oklahoma game? It was before my time but both teams were powerhouses and it is still called “The Game Of The Century”.

If you could change one loss to a win that is not a National Championship game, then which one would it be?

Mike: 2018 Colorado at Nebraska. Assuming that as part of changing a loss to a win, Adrian Martinez didn’t get injured by Colorado’s Jacob Collier. That means Nebraska also beats Troy the week after, and Nebraska is more confident and beats Purdue and Northwestern. Yeah, they get walloped by Michigan and probably Wisconsin, but the Huskers also pick up an extra game down the stretch due to simply better confidence and play. Rather than 4-8, the Huskers finish the season 9-3 and get a decent bowl game berth.

Akelo: Easily the 2001 Colorado game. That game was our Waterloo.

Andy: Hate to copy twice but yes, 2001 Colorado. People forgot that Crouch played the game of his life bringing Nebraska close after a 7-35 first quarter, but the 1st and 4th quarters produced a loss that let the air out of Nebraska’s dominant tires like no other. There’s a reason Craig Bohl remains bitter toward Nebraska to this day and the feeling is mutual for many Husker fans who could care less about NDSU & Wyoming. The Blackshirts lost some shine that day.

Nate M: The 2009 Big 12 Championship game. You never know where things would have gone after that. Things may have fell off eventually but it could have taken Nebraska to another level. But maybe not.

Jon: (crickets)

Brianna C.: I’m stealing Nate’s answer on this one.

Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): The Iowa game during Frost’s first year. That would’ve returned some of the lost momentum from the early part of that season and it would’ve finally shut up some Hawkeye fans for a minute.

Patrick: 1999 Texas loss. If they would have won then that team very well could have been in the national title game later on that year. They ended up beating Texas in the Big 12 championship game. I am just going to assume they would have beaten Texas twice. Even though the odds of doing that are low. Pull that off and Nebraska would have been the most dominant team in the 1990’s and would have hopefully set up the team for success down the road.

Most underrated moment and/or player in Nebraska football history?

Mike: 1992, when Charlie McBride decided to retire his 5-2 scheme and go all-in on the 4-3. It unleashed speed on defense that most people didn’t associate with Nebraska football. Especially teams in Miami and Gainesville, Florida

Andy: When Bob Devaney made Tom Osborne his offensive coordinator after the 1968 season. They went from averaging 15 PPG to 23 & 36 PPG respectively in 1969 and 1970 and Big Red Machine rolled to two national titles.

Nate M: How about Correll Buckhalter? We never hear about him and he’s ranked 8th in school history in rushing yards. Went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL.

Jon: Bryon Bennett missing the field goal when we lost to Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl. It set up the grit that became a 60-3 record over the next five years. “1:16” on the clock, the reminder that they were so close, “Unfinished Business” the theme. 21-point underdogs. Lee Corso making fun of Nebraska on ESPN leading up to the game. Funny the things you never forget, even when your memory has been blown up.

Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): Corey damn Dixon. Guy played out of his damn mind in that Orange Bowl against Florida State. He deserves to be a legend for the big plays he made, yet all we talk about his how Nebraska got screwed. Because, well, Nebraska got screwed. But Corey did some damn work in that game (and yes, he got screwed harder than anyone by some of those iffy calls).

Patrick: I.M. Hipp. He was a walk on that turned into a phenomenal running back. I mean, he left the team as the all time leading rusher. Also, his name was I.M. HIpp.

What do people not know or simply do not understand why Nebraska football is so important to the state of Nebraska?

Andy: It’s just something you can’t really grasp until you move here and start experiencing it year after year. As soon as the B1G announced there would be no fall football, I knew people here would go completely off the deep end. The threats, lawsuits, petitions and general freak-outs will probably continue into October. And while I reluctantly agree with the decision to suspend 100%, I absolutely understand the backlash. A fall with no football hits us like no other state.

Nate M: It is a part of our identity in a sad way. We embrace it regardless.

Jon: It is Nebraska’s identity. There’s nothing sad about that, other than the losing right now. There are those people who’d say our identity shouldn’t be sports, but if it isn’t, what would you replace it with? Beef? They’d probably be cranky about that, too, because they are joy killers. Think about Oklahoma for a minute. OU hired a guy named Bud Wilkinson because they were suffering from lack of an identity and Wilkinson went on to win more consecutive games than anyone else in college football history. What else would Oklahoma be known for if it weren’t Sooner football? Red Dirt?

Brianna C: As far as sports go Nebraska football (and volleyball) is what we have in this state. It’s what brings the people together.

Mike: It’s about as unifying as anything there is in this state. If you don’t care for Nebraska football, game time is a great time to go out to eat or attend any event (that wasn’t rescheduled around the game) because about 60% of the state is at the game or watching/listening to it. We don’t have a pro sports team in this state or another major college program either, so this is our big deal.

Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): I think people don’t realize that we’re not some cultural or ideological monolith. If there’s one thing that even I’ve learned while doing the Cobcast, it’s that there’s a fascinating collection of wildly different people who follow and love the Huskers. We all unite behind this one thing, even if the backgrounds and points of view vary from person to person.

Patrick: It is hard to explain to people who never lived here or had a connection to the state. I think you really just have to be around it to understand. Go to a football or volleyball game. It has to be experienced.

Reason to hope for the Nebraska football season in the winter/spring?

Andy: Any reasons to hope involve a medical discussion and I’m neither a doctor nor stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I just hope for the best because Andy Dufresne told Red that hope is a good thing. The best of things.

Nate M: I have no hope for winter/spring football. None.

Jon: I have a lot more hope given the interview I did with Dr. Stuart Weston. He talked about having tests that return quick results. That shouldn’t be too far away. That and the desire for athletic departments to get going again, along with economic pressure should be enough for the powers that be to figure this out.

Brianna C.: Because 2021 is going to make up for the shit show that is 2020 and all awesome things are going to happen then.

Mike: You have to have hope. That being said, I don’t see how conditions will be better in January than now. March or April, if a vaccine starts to roll out at the start of the year? That’s my hope right now.

Pat Janssen (Big Red Cobcast): No mater when a season finally happens again, you can feel an attitude shift within the program. I think an actual leap is going to finally happen, and when it does, it’s gonna feel goooooooooood.

Patrick: Let’s look forward to fall of 2021. Until then I hope the teams spends all their time in the classroom (in person or digital) and weight room. For some reason I have doubts about winter/spring football happening.