I've been seeing a lot of warm and fuzzy, "guys battled tonight, never quit, blah blah blah." What it actually was, was ANOTHER 9-4 SEASON! This was the easiest pre-season prediction I've ever made in my life. Nine and four, did we even need to watch? I'll get torched for this, but the whole moral victory narrative is awesome, at Iowa. Nebraska is one of the top 5 schools in the country in all time victories. That equates to ZERO moral victories.
Did the guys battle? Yes
Did they show heart? Yes
Never gave up? Yes
The point is, if the fans are so proud of that heart and grit and effort for a single game in the season, that tells me that it is a rarity and it doesn't happen every snap of every game. I truly believe that the best thing about the Riley hire is attitude. I think Riley will change the attitude of the players, and we might see that battle, heart and relentlessness we have been waiting to see (hopefully some run defense as well).
There was all sorts of "tributes" to Bo during the game from the players in the Holiday Bowl loss:
That's all fine and dandy, the guys clearly love the coach that recruited them and helped mold them to be who they are today, but they still lost the game. I think a better tribute to their fired coach would have been a bowl game win over a top 25 ranked team, but that's just me.
As far as the casual football fan goes, the Holiday Bowl did not disappoint. 87 total points were scored. The Huskers had a chance to win or tie the game late (squash the kicking a field goal late talk, Alex Henery is no longer the kicker and Brown has potential but in my opinion there is no way Nebraska's freshman kicker is nailing a 47 yard kick). In typical Beck fashion though, the Huskers were in 4 down territory with 2:39 left and needed 3 yards, with one of the GREATEST RUNNING BACKS IN THE HISTORY OF NEBRASKA FOOTBALL IN THE BACKFIELD. So of course he doesn't touch the ball on 3rd or 4th down.
So, I politely asked my 9 year old son to leave the room, and almost simultaneously grabbed the Jaegermeister and described Tim Beck and his offensive philosophy, "Where's the Tylenol?"
Last stats rundown of the year. Tears and hugs Husker fans.
- The bowl game loss will undoubtedly leave the Huskers unranked in the final AP poll. Which means Bo Pelini's teams had only one top 15 finish (14th in 2009) in his 7 years at Nebraska. Moving on from that and it is Riley's program as of today. Go Big Red coach!
The loss made the all time Husker record against USC, 0-4-1. The Trojans are the only team in college football the Huskers have faced more than once, and are winless against. They own us, hate admitting that.
Ameer Abdullah had 88 yards rushing on 27 attempts, and a 20 yard touchdown. He finished his career 2nd on the Nebraska all time rushing list with 4,588 yards. With his 269 all purpose yards he increased his career total to 7,186 yards. He became only the 11th player in the history of FBS College football to go over the 7k yard total. I will truly miss watching #8 wear that red N on the side of his helmet and some of us might not ever see a back at his level in our lifetimes at Nebraska. "Don't cry Cole, happy thoughts, happy thoughts".
Nebraska ran 94 plays on offense. Out of those 94, all I wanted was the last 2 to go to Abdullah. Not asking a lot here, just 2 more times. If he doesn't get the first down, I'm perfectly fine with it.
It was a tale of 2 halves for Tommy Armstrong. He was Jeckyl and Hyde, or Ren and Stimpy, or Harold and Kumar, or whatever other movie or tv duo you can think of. In the first half Tommy threw the ball 27 times for 14 completions and 1 interception for 160 yards. He also had 7 yards rushing. Some of the balls were so badly thrown that my 82 year old grandfather called me to explain his thoughts on the QB situation. He was not impressed with the youngster. Let's just say that Retired Chief Master Sergeant Duncan did not send a Christmas card to Tommy or the coaching staff. But Tommy nutted up in the second half. He finished the game with 32 completions on 52 attempts (63%), 3 touchdowns passing, and 1 rushing. The stats don't tell the whole story though. He showed Husker Nation in the 2nd half what his ceiling is. He made good throws when he needed to and picked up crucial first downs with his feet through the 2nd half, and finished the night with 422 total yards of offense and 4 touchdowns.
The Blackshirts gave up 515 total yards in the game. It seemed like every time the offense scored to get the game close, the defense gave up another long touchdown. Southern California's average starting field position was at their own 28 yard line. Yet they still scored 45 points. USC averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Very disappointing considering USC will finish outside of the top 50 in the country for running the football. Kids under the age of 10 are starting to grow up in a world where they don't know what it's like to see Nebraska with a good run defense. That's not a world that any of us should live in.
The Good: There is only 251 days until Mike Riley leads the Nebraska Cornhuskers onto the field at Memorial Stadium. It will be the most anticipated first game in just about eight years (Bo's first game).
The Bad: 9-4 AGAIN! Nebraska stays in 9 win purgatory for another year. There are some folks that are happy and beat their chest to that 9 win water mark. The way I see it is these days in college football, 9 wins is no different than 6, 7, or 8 wins. A season with 9 wins means your team is still not playing for any type of championship (conference or national championship), and your team is still playing in a meaningless bowl game. Hopefully, next year Nebraska will not play in any bowls affiliated with National University, or Taxslayer dot com.
So we close the book on The Bo Pelini era with a very exciting, frustrating bowl game. I'd like to thank all of you for joining me here on The Boneyard this year - we laughed, we cried, and drank our way through this 125th Nebraska Cornhusker Football season. I want to thank Dan Powers and Tommie Frazier for giving me this platform to spew my cheers and complaints on everything Husker football. There is no offseason for Husker football so I will continue to pump out Husker content throughout 2015 here at The Boneyard. I'd like to wish you all happy holidays and a happy new year.
WE'LL ALL STICK TOGETHER, THROUGH ALL KINDS OF WEATHER, FOR DEAR OLD NEBRASKA U.
Written by: Cole Duncan
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