(*Author’s note: to former Wisconsin head coach, Brett Bielema, who was hired yesterday as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, let me offer this heartfelt and sincere message)

Have you ever drank an unhealthy amount of Barton’s Vodka – you know, the black labeled fiend that costs a mere $8.99 — and made the foolhardy mistake of passing out before getting a chance to brush your teeth?  When you wake up, your mouth tastes like a firepit after a wild summer bonfire, your mind is tilt-a-whirling so crazily you’re sure your head is pulling an Exorcist and spinning 180 degrees.  You’re fully ready to slap your signature on a bloody contract with the devil if he’ll just make the cremation of your taste buds stop.

That’s what losing by 39 points in the biggest game your program has had in 2 years tastes like.  That’s what giving up 539 yards to a 7-5 team tastes like.  That’s what botching a golden opportunity to win a league that was giftwrapped for you by a bizarre string of completely fortuitous circumstances tastes like.

Quick, does anyone have a chaser?

In the last 8 years, we Husker fans have had to swallow a lot of our pride.  Saturday night we were beer-bonging it down like a Frat Boy going for the record.  There are painful, scarring losses.  There are Rodney King-ings of the first degree.  And then there was Saturday night.  At some point, I found myself laughing like a lunatic, clapping my hands scornfully like The Joker in The Dark Knight and pouring myself as tall a glass of beer as I could find.

I didn’t know what else to do.

Montee Ball ran for 50, Mon-tee Ball Ran for 150, and Mon-tay Ball pitched in another 50 to cap the night off.  At one point, I grabbed my X-Box 360 controller and desperately tried to “Ask Corso” for help.  When that didn’t work, I just tried to reboot the whole damn game.  The points kept piling up.  Video game stats were flashing across the screen and Facebook was suddenly a place to share own iteration of the f- word.  The Indianapolis 500 was playing out on turf, right before our very own, hub-cap-sized eyes.  And we were riding on a horse and buggy, watching the cars go zooming past us.

So what went wrong?  Why did the Huskers come in, ranked 12th in the BCS standings and riding a miraculous 6 game win-streak, and leave feeling like we’d just gotten Brett Mahered in the crotch?  How did a team whose defense seemed to be improving steadily get backhanded by a team that finished 3rd in their own division and backdoored their way into a title game?

We couldn’t quite seem to wrap our minds around it, as fans.  The players looked mystified.  Bo Pelini didn’t have the answers either, or so he said in his postgame presser.

I have written throughout this year that my approach to this season has been different from most years.  My fanhood came into this season as damaged goods.  It had been mistreated in the past, loved too deeply, trusted too soon.  This year would be different, I told myself.  I would come into this season determined to keep the Huskers at arm’s length; to be-fan them casually, instead of immediately jumping into a committed relationship and looking for one-bedroom apartments to share.  But things just kept going right.  The Huskers kept sending me flowers.  They kept surprising me with spontaneous wins and with sweet, love-letter comebacks.  As the Big Ten title game neared, I felt myself starting to fall for this team.

But then I caught myself.

What was really different this time around?  We had a suspect defense, a brilliant-at-times but turnover prone offense, and a head coach who seems to fluctuate between excellent and sub-par in such wild swings that it’s never easy to identify which Bo is rocking the crew neck on what particular Saturday.  Sure, it seemed like we were finally “all grown up.”  That we had “matured” into a legitimately good partner for my fanhood.  But we’d seen this before.  I had willfully put myself in harm’s way.  I quickly threw together some bricks, some mortar, and cobbled my wall back up.

And it wasn’t a moment too soon.

See, it turns out that Mr./Mrs. Right?  The stunningly good-looking, witty and seemingly reformed-to-marriable-perfection Huskers?  Yeah, they were still a bed-wetting, heroin addict, that was wanted in multiple states for felonies.  They weren’t ready.  Not for what we wanted.  Not for the big time.

Those weren’t wedding bells we heard in the distance, they were police sirens.

The game’s singularly awesome Husker play came from quarterback Taylor Martinez early on in the first quarter.  Had this run come during a Husker victory, or had the ensuing 3 quarters not turned into the football version of Rocky Balboa’s face post-Apollo Creed-ing, than maybe this would have turned into one of the football plays of the year.  They did.  And it didn’t.  But, we should give it it’s just due, since we really have nothing else to cheer about.

Here’s the play:

Just like Tim Beck drew it up right?

In fact, we here at Burnpoetry have obtained an exclusive look at what the playcall looked like when Bo and Tim Beck put it up on the chalkboard before the game.

And suddenly the Huskers find themselves playing in the Capital One Bowl Game.  Again.  Against a pretty good SEC team that could spell trouble for a Husker squad whose identity was ripped from them and tossed against the wall, shattering like an empty beer bottle.  Again.

Have you ever drank an unhealthy amount of Barton’s Vodka – you know, the black labeled fiend that costs a mere $8.99 — and made the foolhardy mistake of passing out before getting a chance to brush your teeth?  We have a month to wash that taste from out mouths and then we find ourselves facing a Georgia team that will easily be our toughest contest of the season.  A Georgia team with boatloads of NFL players on both sides of the ball.  A Georgia team that was 10 mismanaged seconds away from being in the BCS National Title Game.  Somebody pass the Colgate.  Let’s get to scrubbing.




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