The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ 2012 football season is over.

RIP, yo.

With the Huskers’ loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day, a stunningly, jarringly wild journey has finally come to an end.  We can take off our seat belts and our carny friends in their grimy, pit-stained polos can take off the lap bars jammed down on the tops of our thighs.  We can climb shakily up from our deeply bucketed seats and try to find our footing on solid ground.  The ride is over.

The season ended with a tough loss to the University of Georgia.  While I will still crank out my “Season in Review” column, I’ll seek to touch on the bowl game itself today.

When I was a kid I used to watch MadTV for the half hour or so that it was on before Saturday Night Live came on.  It had a few skits that I really enjoyed and one of them was about a terrible dating service called “Lowered Expectations.”  As you can probably guess by the title, “Lowered Expectations” was a dating service that provided any number of losers/whack-jobs/strange characters a chance to try to find true love.  The introduction for the bit had two obese people, walking hand in hand near a drainage ditch with barbed wire.

I feel like Husker fans went into this bowl game like they were submitting a tape to the “Lowered Expectations” dating service.  We didn’t expect much.  We knew we weren’t quite in the same class as Georgia, talent-wise, and that if we did pull off a win it would be a pretty good-sized upset.  But we still wanted to see how things would play out.

I turned off the T.V. weirdly satisfied with a 14-point loss.  Maybe that’s what repeated curbstompings will do to you.  Maybe I’ve been so traumatized by losing by 35 and 40 points that – aw, shucks – if we can hang in there long enough against a good opponent, I’ll end up feeling like our boys should get a participation ribbon.  Capri Suns for everyone!  I know that a lot of Husker fans didn’t share my strangely-okay-with-it feel to taking our 4th loss of the season, and our third straight bowl loss, merely because it seemed that our effort was there, but that’s what I’ve been reduced to.

All the deficiencies of the regular season were still there on Tuesday, in various forms.  Although the Husker defense played very well at times, their inability to stop the Bulldogs from racking up big plays ultimately spelled their demise.

Often times the Husker defensive back was in the right position, at the right time, but simply couldn’t make a play on the ball when it was in the air.  Oh-so-close-but-really-so-far.  **MICROCOSM OF THE SEASON ALERT**

Taylor Martinez was good at times and frustratingly bad at others.  In an age of advanced statistics and Sabermetrics, nothing can quite quantify the type of impact Martinez has on the game.

The best way to describe what Martinez can do us in an advanced statistic I like to call “Taybermetrics” (*Author’s note: hiiiii-ooooohhhh!”).  This cutting edge, revelatory process pulls back the curtain on the enigmatic Husker QB just a enough to try to put his good/bad qualities on display.

The key to Taybermetrics hinges around the f- word, and its use once Martinez has the ball in his hands.  While in the past, we have only been able to determine the total number of F- words used to describe his play, now we have developed a key +/- stat to better capture what he actually does.

What Taybermetrics does, is balance out the times you drop F- Bombs at the amazing play he has just made (*Author’s note: the 92-Yard run against Wisconsin, where he looked like his blood could be distilled into pure rocket fuel) against the times you drop an F-Bomb about a terrible, game-altering decision to throw it into double coverage off his back foot (*Author’s note: read, every Huskers loss).

For instance he had a +5 Taybermetric rating from the home opener against Southern Miss, a game in which he threw for 345 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Against Ohio State, he had a Taybermetric rating of -9.  Unfortunately for Nebraska fans, too often this season Martinez’s Taybermetric score on Tuesday was a solid 0.  He was good-not-great and had some poor decisions.  The loss, though, didn’t fall solely on his shoulders.

Other items of note from the self-glossed #caponebowl:

–  The Capital One Bowl’s MVP?  It should’ve been the 2nd buffest referee in history(*Author’s note: Long live Hochuli!).

Every time this guy signaled a first down it looked like he was hitting his money pose at Mr. Olympia.  Each holding call was like watching a juicehead ripping through a set on the delts machine.  I thought he was going to ask someone to spot him when he signaled that it was halftime.  I couldn’t tell if he was signaling a first down, or telling us, “The Gym is THISSSSSSSSSSSSS way!.”  After the game was over someone should’ve dumped a Gatorade cooler all over this guy that was full entirely of protein shakes.  Also, does he have any eligibility left?

–  I know we know live in a society where everything has #s in front of them but shouldn’t the crew at ABC have realized that they were going to be confusing a bunch of people by shortening up the Capital One Bowl to the #caponebowl?  Did they really want to be associated with the kind of organized crime, corruption, and murder of Al Capone?  It left me wondering, what exactly would the winner of ‘The Capone Bowl’ get?  Federal Racketeering charges?  Kevin Costner hunting you down with the help of the Canadian Mounties?  Syphilis so bad that it literally rots your brain?  Maybe it’s a good thing we lost the Capone Bowl.  Just a #thought.  #sorry.  #lastone.

–  It is strange to think that 2 of the biggest cult heroes of Husker Football for my generation will be gone next year.  The Rexbox 360 will finally get unplugged and Cornhusker Jesus is retiring as the AD at Nebraska.  Both will be sorely missed, not forgotten, and wildly, recklessly cheered anytime they’re shown on the bigscreen at Husker home games from now on.  Adios, and happy trails to 2 of the classiest Huskers we know.

FIN

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