As the Holiday season draws to a close we find ourselves in a familiar spot. Actually it’s a little too familiar.  Alright, to be even more honest: it’s more Deja Vu, more “the Matrix is Glitching” familiar than a bowl game ever should be.  When the Huskers trot onto the turf this Thursday night they will be playing in the Holiday Bowl.  Again.  And when the opponents come out and we have to listen to another 4 hours of “Jake Locker’s a Physical Phenomenon,” hyperbole it will ring painfully in our ears.  Again.

If all this seems a little redundant that’s because it is.  This conversation, the two teams playing, even the location.  We’ve all been here before. 

This Thursday Nebraska will play in their second consecutive Holiday Bowl and play their second game of the season against the Washington Huskies.

And no one cares.

Not the players, who whipped the Huskies like sled dogs in the home stretch of the Iditarod, winning 56-21 against a team that looked thoroughly outmatched.  Not the coaches, who claim that they’re all fired up about that elusive “11th win” which will somehow show some kind of progress in their own minds.  And least of all the fans. 

As a kid, when I first got a chance to ride “The Mamba” roller coaster at worlds of fun I was elated.  Adrenaline pumping, knuckles white as I clutched onto the lap-bar with all my adolescent strength I would scream and even throw my hands up in the air after a few rides.  But as the day progressed, and I rode the ride time after breathless time, I began to simply go through the motions. 

Sure, riding “The Mamba” was better than the bumper cars.  But suddenly I found myself putting my hands up merely to show that I was a big, tough dude; to show that I knew what was coming and that it didn’t worry me in one bit.

That’s what this bowl game has become.  I’m glad we’re not in the MAACO Car Care Bowl (the Bumper Cars) or, far worse, back in the Callahan era (when we didn’t even make it into the theme park).  But suddenly we find ourselves putting our hands into the air simply because we know what’s coming and we want to show our support.

While I hope that the players aren’t simply putting their hands up for show, as I did all those years ago, I can’t honestly blame them.  They’ve said all the right things.  Cody Green, who could coach a politician on diplomacy, even went so far as to claim that the team was excited about getting back to the same bowl they were in last year.

But how often is the Varsity team excited about scrimmaging the J.V. team in an empty gym?

This game has quickly morphed into something that no player or coach ever would want it to become.  A lose-lose scenario that has the Huskers shackled to the pressure of coming in as heavy favorites, playing with nothing to gain against a team that is foaming at the mouth for another shot at the bully that took their lunch money so many weeks ago.

Jake Locker will be looking to avenge his 5-20 passing performance against a secondary that undoubtedly left him wishing he’d gone pro last season and the Huskies will  be playing with little of the pressure that Nebraska feels for this game.

Nebraska started off the year with the expectation of moving forward; of achieving tangible gains in their quest to become a national power once more.  Returning to a bowl game and an opponent that, respectively, matter little and less will truly test the coaching staff’s merit.  For a team that has, at times, looked to be lacking focus in the “un-important” games, it will be interesting to watch Nebraska come back out and try to win one last game.

I will cover the game itself more in-depth later in the week, but one thing is for sure: if the players take this game as lightly as the fans do?  We could be in trouble.  And by trouble I mean Washington will still lose by at least 10.  They’re terrible.


  1. Sue Tolles says:

    I’m afraid you’re right. But I think it’s important to play like it is for the championship. We need to leave the Big 12 with our heads up and blackshirts on. We’ll watch, and celebrate the scores.

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