Nebraska Cornhuskers Are Heading to the Ship: A Big Ten Title Game Preview

Posted: November 28, 2012 in Sports
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On December 1st, in the year of our lord 2012, the Nebraska Cornhuskers will have a chance to win a conference championship.  After a cocaine roller coaster of manic highs and depressive lows, it has come down to this.  Another chance to hoist a trophy as the best team in their conference.  Bo Pelini needs this.  The Huskers need this.  Nebraska needs this.  We need this.

As I think back to the season that was, I can still recall watching Braxton Miller depants the Huskers, leaving jockstraps and morale strewn about the field in a pile of imploded rubble.  I can still remember that fateful night in early October where the Huskers were Custer and Columbus, Ohio was transformed into Little Bighorn.  I remember thinking, then, that we had no chance in hell of standing where we are now.  I remember that sinking, first drop on a carnival ride sensation, as I realized that we might be destined for another season of treading water while we watched other program’s swim laps.  It felt like our water wings were deflating.

But something happened after that Ohio State game.  A slow, rolling, groundswell.  Like a timpani crescendoing ever so slightly at the back of the orchestra.  The Huskers won a game.  Then they won another.  And another.  And suddenly we had ourselves a bona fide win streak.  They battled and fought and scrapped for last second victories at home and on the road.  Suddenly what had seemed destined to be just another bombed out, tired-ass sequel, what had seemed to be Saw 5 in football terms, started to take shape into something else.

Getting to the Big 10 Title game wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t flashy.  It was inherently flawed and chaotically run.  At times the Huskers appeared to be an onfield recreation of various scenes from Animal House.  They fumbled and we gasped, and they fumbled and we shook our heads, and they fumbled and we just nodded like a burned out parent who’s seen it all and is ready for their angsty 17-year-old to hurry up and go to college.  Martinez looked like “T-Magic”, then Ron Weasley on back to back possessions.  It didn’t matter.  Nebraska kept winning.  Husker fans went en masse to their local retailers and picked up alcohol, Tums, and Just for Men Gel, just to make it through another Saturday watching the most precarious show on turf.

Along the way we lost Rex Burkhead: Football Legend and gained Rex Burkhead: off-field legend, philanthropist and maybe nicest guy ever.

Along the way we’ve watched Eric Martin turn himself from the guy all his teammates called “Caveman”, that played so hard he ended up taking himself out of plays, to a legitimately good pass rusher and we’ve seen a secondary and linebacking corps continue to develop and adapt and show flashes of what makes Bo Pelini a special defensive coach.

Along the way we’ve watched Bo Pelini scream, howl like a rabid wolf at a full moon, and get into various verbal scraps with his players.  There was even a few moments where this nasty clip was exploded all over ESPN and any other news outlet drooling for a story.

But what was really said in this incident?  We at Burnpoetry were able to obtain a top-secret manuscript of what the conversation between Stafford and Bo Pelini looked like.  Here it is.  The names of the parties involved have been changed to protect their identities.

Honey Bo-Bo:  Hey, man!  Hey!  How come dreads like yours look so cool on black guys and when white dudes try to grow them, we just look, like, dirty and stuff?  Huh?!?  Answer me that!  Hair racism!

Raisin’caneian Smafford:  Coach!  You’re balding anyway!  I know a good weave guy, though, if you need some help!

Honey Bo-Bo:  Who you calling bald?  Besides, eagles are bald and they’re ferocious birds of prey!  They live in huge nests and kill stuff with their talons all the time!

Raisin’caneian Smafford:  I’m callin’ you bald.  You!  Now I’m going to sit down on the bench!

Honey Bo-Bo:  Oh, yeah?  Well Stafford loans suck!  In fact, the entire Higher Education Act of 1965 was completely stupid!

Raisin’caneian Smafford:  Watch me point the finger and not the thumb!  Watch me point the finger and not the thumb!  Boom!

Nebraska’s football program is like that gigantic, amazing muscle car that your Dad used to own in the ‘60s and ‘70s that fell on hard times and has been buried in the back of the garage, desperately in need of repair.  We’ve tinkered with it.  We’ve dusted it off and polished it and worked on that engine for 5 years now and we’re about to hop into the driver’s seat and try to fire that baby up for a drive.

The Huskers have been in this situation before.  We’ve been here before.  On the cusp of something big, something that has the chance to propel us once more down the road to that distant place we still talk wistfully about: the top.

Two other times we’ve tried to start this burly, brawny cage of whoop-ass on four wheels and each time before it’s fired roaringly up.  We’ve let out a gigantic whoop of joy, started blasting White Snake music and pulled out of the garage.  Then the wheels fell off, the steering wheel came out into our hands, and the engine caught on fire.  Our joy exploded and we found ourselves staring at a smoking, broken down wreck that would near repairing once again.

After the Big 12 Title game was yanked out from under us like some kind of referee-approved faux-floor booby trap in 2009 and after we squandered a 17 point lead against Oklahoma in our final F- you game to the Big 12 on our way out the door, Husker fans are once more staring down the barrel of a chance to win their first conference title game since 1999.

We’re about to turn the key once more and fire the ignition.  It’s a nerve-wracking time to be a Husker fan.

Many years and many, many pounds ago, when I was a distance runner in high school I was rarely nervous at the big meets where I knew the competition would be fierce.  I usually knew going in about where I stood against the other runners and knowing that I was competing against guys who were as fast or faster than me didn’t worry me.  It was the small meets.  The ones where I knew going in that I had faster times than any of the other runners that used to make me nervous.  Being in a situation where you’re supposed to win can add pressure.

That’s how I feel about Nebraska playing a Wisconsin team that is 4-4 in the conference and basically slept-walked their way into the title game because of all the scandalousness of Ohio State and Penn State.  We should beat them.  We’re better than they are.  We’ve beaten them once, after spotting them 17 points, and they’re having a bad year.  The whole league has been weak.  The clear-cut best program in the Big 10 pulled a Cheddar Bob from 8 Mile and shot themselves in the foot.

There’s never going to be a better time for an almost-good-but-still-not-great team like this to win a conference title.

It’s time.  It’s our time.

And I don’t care how awesome it was to come from behind and beat Wisconsin at home in our I can still taste the sour, coppery taste of Russell Wilson’s backhand from last year.  Beating Wisconsin once was business.  Beating them twice would be pleasure.

It’s Osborne’s last year at the helm of the athletic department.  Karmically, fate-wise, whatever you believe in. . .that has to mean something, right?  We have an inherent need, as fans, to see our favorite sports personas go out on top.  I can think of no better way to send T.O. towards that beautiful prairie sunset of wherever he chooses to retire to, than by winning.

So all that’s left now?  Finish.  Finish out a championship game by making that one great play, that extra step in the right direction or hanging onto the football.  On this tumultuous, barebacked, Nantucket Sleighride of a season we just need to finally reel in the big one.  We’ve had our fair share of luck.  Now it’s time to take the Big Ten Trophy and wrench it from the bony, rigor mortising fingers of our defeated adversaries and hold it aloft.

For T.O.

For Bo.

For Nebraska.



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