dHalloween has come and gone, yet the ugly, horrible, disturbing monstrosity that is the Big Ten West division is still alive and well. It’s the proverbial killer in every single horror film that just NEVER DIES!! No matter what you try, how hard you try, all you do is scream and cry from the absolute terror it causes on a weekly basis. So, fill yourself up on candy and be prepared for this week’s installment.
Be that as it may, a win is a win, no matter how ugly it looks. The offense has been an absolute M*A*S*H unit with what remains of the starters from the opening week, causing me to try to rip out any/all remaining hair I have left. The prettiness of the “stars of the show” are being replaced by less known, but more than capable understudies. These supposed “understudies”, have done an amazing job playing the role of the ugly duckling, quite possibly showing signs of turning into that beautiful swan by the end.
First things first, win this week, and the Huskers become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016. The original expectation for the season was this benchmark, but when everything went to hell in a handbasket, the expectation become “just be competitive”. Now it’s not only turning back into “bowl or bust” again, but now it’s growing into the hope of “win the B1G West”. It went from “ugly duck” to “horror film”, back to “ugly duck”, and maybe “beautiful swan”.
The Big Ten East will undeniably have the upper hand in the conference title game, as it should, but be careful of the remaining House of Horrors the West still has to offer. A 4 Horsemen race of dredge, villainy, and putrid offense lead the way, and that suits every one of them just fine. It’s like arguing which horror film series is the best, with the only caveat being you are arguing which one is the most awesome because you see yourself as the killer.
Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska all have a path to the title, with some easier than others. I would argue the easiest is actually Nebraska’s, as Minnesota still has Ohio State and a plucky Northwestern, while the Huskers have a struggling Spartans, fading Terrapins, and possibly offensively feeble Wisconsin and Iowa. Iowa has the tiebreaker against Wisconsin, while Minnesota has it against Nebraska and Iowa. So, it’s not over yet, as things could somehow get uglier than they already are.
Nebraska is starting to play to an identity that hasn’t been seen in a few decades. It’s a slower-paced, grind-it-out, beat the brains out of the opponent (mmm...brains). It’s not the high-flying, high scoring offense that people want in today’s age, but that’s ok. When Nebraska won games, it was with walk-ons, scholarship guys from the state of Nebraska, and dammit it was with guys who were NOT OUTWORKED BY ANYONE!! There are teams that have “superior talent” but ultimately that didn’t mean everything. Hard work can undo talent if talent doesn’t work hard.
This team has grit, it has spine, it has the spirit of the killer in the horror movies. Offensively, it looks like an ugly duck, quacks like an ugly duck, walks like an ugly duck, but the team record is turning into that beautiful swan that people appreciate. Defensively, it walks like Michael Myers, talks like Jigsaw, and plays like Freddy Krueger. Bowl eligibility first, then dream of winning the Big Ten West. One ugly duck/psycho killer step at a time. Go Big Red!