I have a confession to make: today’s Nebraska game felt like a non-event going into it, and coming out of it, I’m not surprised it did. Not that I wasn’t excited for this Nebraska game; I was. I put on my gray game-day hoodie t-shirt that I always wear beneath my red shirt and watched the game in the basement on my laptop. But the outcome: really, I was optimistic for better, but I’m not surprised on how things transpired.
Listen, I watch a million college football games a year, and I’d seen South Carolina at least three or four times. And even though they got shelled by Arkansas, I knew they had NFL bodies, on both side of the ball. Nebraska has a pretty good quarterback and one skill player who would even have a shot at contributing on other good college football teams. From the time the match-up was announced, I knew that the one thing that Huskers could hope for was that South Carolina would show up flat for the game, which Steve Spurrier coached teams had a habit of doing.
Which South Carolina did at the start of the game. They gave Nebraska some breaks, including some good field position on its first couple of drives, with some bad punts and some penalties (the hands-to-the-face penalty on a punt was about a half a second away from being post-possession), and I could tell early on, Nebraska was the team getting the breaks. And when South Carolina scored on a hail mary on the last play of the half, the deflating part of it for me was, Nebraska was down three, all because they allowed a blocked extra point to be returned for two points by the other team. All those chances, and no lead to show for it.
Officially, Nebraska has been welcomed to the being-dominated-by-the-SEC party. In some way now, I suppose I will almost dread by beloved Cornhuskers finishing in the top half of the Big 10, only to be sentenced to play in a bowl game in Florida, against a superior SEC team that has a month to get healthy and prepare for you. Of course, Nebraska has a month to prepare to (credit Bo Pelini: they really came out fired up), but as we saw in the second half, the more talented team was obvious.
Today, by a strange coincidence, I decided to go downstairs and take a mosaic I had made of Tommie Frazier, made from newspaper and magazine clippings from when he played at Nebraska. It made me sad to think of those great 90’s teams, the first that I remember from their ABC games of the week. The current Nebraska team, with a very good coach, looses by seventeen to a the fifth best team in the SEC who played one good half of football. If I live for another fifty years, will young men laugh at me when I tell them that I saw Nebraska teams dominate and win National Titles?
But I go on; these are just sports, certainly not life and death. Ultimately, they’re not what’s most important.
Still, it is wrought with irony to watch my team come the field like it after getting rolled by the SEC who they rolled ten years prior. The one thing that does give me some hope is looking at a team like Clemson, a team in a passionate fan-base who had its own twenty your conference title drought end this year. I hope I’m that lucky, and even a little sooner.