The Nebraska Cornhuskers currently stand 3-3 needing a minimum finish of same in order to break a current six-year streak of failing to qualify for a bowl game. It’s not an unfamiliar position for the Huskers during this period. And neither is a failure to win three more against a remaining slate of almost all Big 10 opponents:
2022: 3-3 start, 1-5 finish (at least the sole win was against Iowa, though)
2021: 3-3 start, 0-6 finish (which appeared to break Scott Frost psychologically)
2019: 4-2 start, 1-5 finish (kicked off by a soul-crushing 34-7 blowout loss to Minnesota)
2017: 3-3 start, 1-5 finish (Mike Riley’s going away present; Huskers gave up 50+ points in 4 of the losses)
The lesson? Do not look ahead. Not even a little. Go back and look at those seasons for yourself. I did and it came rushing back to me. In each of those seasons at the 3-3 mark, I thought I saw multiple paths to the 6-6 minimum and in each of those seasons, it went up flames and I don’t think I was alone. Not with optimism as the 7th game kicked off and not at 11am of the season finale with a morning cocktail in my fist going, “FFS, at least let us beat Iowa!”
(Except for 2019, when the pain was quintupled by a Hawkeye 48-yard FG which both won the game and denied the Huskers their sixth victory. Ok, that was a fun memory, kinda like dropping your phone in a loaded toilet and having to go hand-fishing. Let’s move on.)
And what else do these seasons all have in common? Yes, the elephant in the room which some dare not mention: Nebraska’s almost physics-defying record in one-score games.
2020: 1-3 (The ‘vid season)
Honestly, the law of averages just tilting a little toward the norm should’ve sent the Huskers bowling in at least a couple of those years. But any time that started to happen, things happened which viewed by themselves were just run of the mill bad luck.
But viewed as a constant for six years? It’s much more than simply bad coaching/failure to protect the ball/criminal refereeing/brain farts/etc.
It’s time to admit dark forces are at work here.
And the time for pretending they’re not is over. We have to believe black magic and other supernatural phenomena are real and meet this Haitian witch doctor shit head on. Just look at those numbers again:
Combined record in the last 6 games of the four seasons with a 3-3 or 4-2 start from ‘17-’22?
Record in one score games in those six seasons?
7-29 (7-30 if you want to go ahead and include Minnesota this season)
So now that we’ve firmly established something beyond this dimension is at work, it’s up to us to do our part. In the name of a glorious road trip to Shreveport or New York City mid-winter, here’s some simple rules for fans to follow:
1) Speak only of the game in front of the Huskers and not one day beyond.
From bars to social media to Corn Nation chat rooms, people speak of things like rolling off three in a row against Northwestern, Purdue and Michigan State and then sprinting to a 8-4 or 9-3 finish.
Look above - this is simply madness. It’s spitting into a tornado. Six games left and the odds say 3 to 5 of them will be one score games and ASSUMING victory in any of those boggles the mind. Would you bet your hard-earned cabbage on a Husker one-score victory?
There is only one game right now. Northwestern. And there should be every week until that beautiful 6th victory is sitting on a scoreboard showing 0:00.
2) Find your Huskers rabbit foot.
Is it that 1996 Fiesta Bowl tailgate pass? The Tommie Frazier Husker Beanie Baby you’ve had stashed for years? That key ring/bottle opener with a proud red “N” that’s been sitting in a drawer for years? That cap you were wearing when Stuntz hit Crouch? Doesn’t matter, to each his own, but get it in your pocket, your wallet, on your desk, your head, whatever, and make sure it’s on you on gameday. Arm yourself.
(For me, it’s my UNO hockey ticket from the CCHA conference tournament play-in game when, after upsetting Northern Michigan on the road, they beat Bowling Green to punch their ticket to the CCHA final four in their inaugural season in the conference. They would upset Michigan in the semis before falling to Michigan State and exhaustion in the final.
I figure something which represents the underdog - which we most definitely are - and ties into the Big 10 works. With our slew of injuries and historical performance in these situations, few are expecting success. That stub is now off my memorabilia shelf and in my wallet.)
3) Burn some shit which has been around you during Husker football for the last six years and be witchy and ominous about it.
I won’t suggest specifics, but it really shouldn’t be too hard to find something. Just nothing too valuable and no animals like that shitty cat who always scratches you - that’s just finding an excuse, not exorcizing demons. Something at least mildly flammable. And for shit’s sake, do it outside, not in the house. And if it has to be in the house, make it small and in the sink. Mutter some curses at your least favorite team or speak in tongues. Raise your ams to the sky. Make it creepy.
That’s it and it’s really not too much to ask. And if you still insist on not believing in such superstitions, I beg you to put that aside, at least until Black Friday.
You don’t want to be the reason we see a 52-yard Northwestern field goal dropping over the crossbar as the clock shows :00.