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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

P.S.R. Op-Ed

The Cornhuskers Demand Satisfaction

A sight Nebraska has become accustomed to seeing: Texas celebrating at its expense.

Don’t confuse the fact that Nebraska has circled the game against Texas — in red ink, I’m sure — with the idea that this game will decide its season: Nebraska’s not Texas A&M, where an otherwise dissatisfying campaign can be deemed a success with a win over the hated Longhorns. The Cornhuskers have bigger fish to fry, bigger hurdles to pass along the way to the end goal — a national championship, of course. In that case, Texas is just another challenger. And if you believe that, you haven’t been paying attention. A Texas visit to Lincoln does mean the above — that it’s a step towards a national title — but that’s merely a small piece of the pie. It’s about respect, for starters, but also revenge — Nebraska demands satisfaction.

Think back to December: underdog Nebraska, favored Texas, in Dallas, playing for the Big 12 title. We all remember how it ended, with Texas jubilant following a last-second field goal — the second after the last second, according to Nebraska — that allowed U.T. the chance to meet Alabama for the national championship.

Nebraska sunk from our memory a bit after the loss, resurfacing during a brutal Holiday Bowl win over Arizona — brutal for the Wildcats — and then fading back into relative obscurity. Texas lost to Alabama, lost its starting quarterback, lost its best receiver, lost several pieces on defense, but returned enough to be considered a national title contender in 2010. Unjustified, of course.

How did Nebraska spend its winter vacation? If this were a mediocre action movie — the best kind of action movie — here’s where we would find the training montage. Cornhuskers hitting sleds, hitting tackling dummies, hitting the weights, hitting each other. Summer vacation: same story. This seems like a team that spent the last nine months dedicating itself to one goal — not just getting better, but getting better than each opponent on its schedule.

It’s the hallmark of championship-winning teams, this drive towards greatness. I still hesitate to use that word, as Nebraska has yet to prove just how good it can be, or even if the team is truly deserving of its lofty ranking. We’ll know more come Saturday, when the Cornhuskers host the Longhorns. With all due respect to Washington and Kansas State, Nebraska has yet to face this level of athleticism. Defensively, U.T. is built to defend the spread — speed, speed and more speed.

Offensively, Texas is a train wreck. An absolute disappointment. Who knew that losing the most prolific quarterback in school history would have such an adverse effect? The rest of the country knew, it seems; those fans in Austin were caught seemingly unaware, mistakingly believing their sophomore quarterback — Garrett Gilbert — ready for a Heisman run. That wasn’t wise.

The Longhorns have no ability to move the ball on the ground. It’s shocking, in my opinion, that a team with such athleticism can lack the mental wherewithal to line up and run the ball with consistency — it’s an indictment of the U.T. offensive coaching staff, in my opinion.

Nebraska doesn’t lack for mental fortitude: the Cornhuskers are mentally tough, thanks to moments — losses — like the 2009 Big 12 title game. It’s a loss Nebraska might publicly ignore, but make little mistake: Nebraska remembers. It wasn’t a good feeling. Come tomorrow, Nebraska will be looking for a little recompense. It will come at U.T.’s expense.

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Comments

  1. DaU!!!! says:

    I do not think any team can swim in the sea of red this season…

  2. BloggingBevo says:

    Definitely scheme/coaching problems on offense for Texas, but they don’t have the athletes on the OL or at RB to just line up and impose their will on any college defense. Of course, the coaches should have realized that.

  3. Burnt Orange says:

    The thing about circling a game in red or orange or maize and blue on the calendar is sooner or later the date arrives and you have to play the game. Every once in a while, the dogsht opponent that everyone has been bitching about and slandering also shows up for the game in a pissed off frame of mind. Sometimes they even have a pulse or some semblance of a defense and a coordinator who knows how to coach it. This can turn problematic for the calendar circler if someone forgets to tell the opponent that their role in the morality play is to get gang raped on national tv and then go quietly into the night. I do not know if the boys in burnt orange and white have had enough of this crap nor do I know if they are ready for this game – but I am unapologetic, wild eyed and foaming at the mouth. Let’s dance.

  4. Noefli says:

    Zac Lee!

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