' ' Cinema Romantico: A Digression: The Worst Nebraska Football Game I've Ever Seen

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Digression: The Worst Nebraska Football Game I've Ever Seen

(I write to work things through - it's just how I am - and so I simply have to write this. I have to. No choice here. I apologize. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow with my review of "An Education." But for now...)

I have been watching my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers play football games since 1986. This means I have experienced many, many victories but also means I have exeperienced bitter defeat, agonizing heartbreak and final scores that still to this day make me nauseous.

I watched Tyreese Knox, about to go into the end zone and clinch the win in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl, fumble on the two yard line as Florida State recovered and then drove 98 yards to convert a 4th down and goal from the 15 to win.

I watched the unsuccessful Punt Fake From Hell in the 2002 Independence Bowl loss to Eli Manning and Mississippi.

I watched head coach Bill "The Brain" Callahan run Marlon Lucky off tackle 257 times (slight approximation) in the 2007 Cotton Bowl including on 3rd and 11 in the final minute when we were down by 3 and out of field goal range thereby sealing our defeat to Auburn.

I've watched every Texas Sized Heartbreak in the last 13 years. (Seriously, Texas has broken our hearts more times than beautiful women have broken mine.) I watched Terrence Nunn get the first down to clinch the win against Texas in 2006 only to watch Nunn fumble an instant after getting said first down as Texas recovered and then drove down the field and kicked a field goal to win and I watched the great DeJuan Groce make a miraculous 44 yard punt return in the final minute to get us into field goal range when we were down 27-24 to Texas in 2002 only to watch quarterback Jammal Lord throw an interception on the next play and I watched Texas complete the legendary "Roll Left" to stun Nebraska in the 1996 Big 12 Championship Game. (The last one was tempered by the fact I watched it with a girl I really, really, really liked and who was flirtaciously giving me crap and so it was probably the least awful awful loss I've ever seen. But still..."Roll Left" haunts me to this day.)

I watched the 1998 loss to Kansas State which means that, yes, I screamed at my TV and threatened theoretical bodily harm to the officials along with every other Husker fan when on Nebraska's last ditch drive, on the 4th down stop that won Kansas State the game, a facemask penalty committed against our quarterback Eric Crouch which was so blatant Crouch's helmet literally GOT TURNED THE WRONG WAY wasn't called.

I punched a bathroom stall in Cafe Crew in Scottsdale, Arizona after our 29-28 loss to Kansas State in 2000.

I listened on the radio to the infamous 19-10 loss to Iowa State in 1992 and to the 19-0 meltdown against Arizona State in 1996 right down to the bitter end.

I watched The Day After Thanksgiving Massacre (Colorado - 62 Nebraska - 36) and the 70-10 catasrophe against Texas Tech in 2004 and the 76-39 debacle against Kansas in 2007 right down to the bitter end.

I watched every single last gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing play of the 22-0 Orange Bowl loss to Miami in 1992 (the worst Nebraska game I'd ever seen until now).

I cried after the 1994 Orange Bowl loss to Florida State. There. I admitted it. On my blog of all places. Are you happy?!

I've experienced all of those losses and a whole lot more but never, not once, not ever have I experienced as infuriating a defeat as I did this past Saturday in a 9-7 loss to those god damn Cyclones from Ames, Iowa whose fans are partly the reason I became a Nebraska fan in the heart of the Hawkeye State 23 years ago.

Never, not once, not ever have I experienced my beloved Cornhuskers turn the ball over not once, not twice, not three, not four, nor five, nor six, nor even seven times, but eight times! THEY TURNED THE BALL OVER EIGHT TIMES!!! Not only did they turn over the ball eight times but they committed four of these turnovers INSIDE IOWA STATE'S FIVE YARD LINE!!! Do you comprehend the absurdity of that stat? Four times we were inside our opponent's five yard line and came away with absolutely nothing. One field goal - just one - and we win. I have better odds scoring backstage passes to a Kylie Minogue concert than a football team has turning the ball over four times inside its opponent's five yard line.

We gained more yards than Iowa State and earned more first downs than Iowa State but still lost. We wasted yet another Heisman Trophy worthy performance from our stud defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Do you understand this dude had eight tackles, a sack (in which he honest to goodness, most literally HURLED the Iowa State quarterback to the ground), three quarterback hurries and blocked both an extra point try AND a field goal (the two things that kept the score within a totally manageable field two point deficit all afternoon even though, of course, it proved completely unmanageable for our woeful offense) and afterwards, despite his offense committing eight turnovers - did I mention that? - is still so darn classy be blamed the loss on the defense not doing "enough"? (Granted, if Jared Crick recovers that Iowa State fumble at the end of the first half deep inside Iowa State territory maybe we get the necessary three points. But maybe not. More than likely Zac Lee throws an interception in the end zone or Niles "Beware My Delicate Hands!" Paul fumbles the ball at the three yard line again.) Watching Suh the last few weeks has been like watching the old World War II movies where at the end one last American marine is left behind to shoot the gatling gun at the advancing enemy soldiers taking as many of them with him as he can.

After he blocked the field goal we returned the ball into Iowa State territory but whereas in the first half when Iowa State successfully converted the momentum changing fake punt and on the next play proceeded to (as I have preached for years in the wake of momentum changing plays) go for the end zone which naturally resulted in the touchdown that would prove to win them the game we decided to run a standard "zone read option" play that went nowhere. I mean, I understand offensive coordinator Shawn Watson gets paid $375,000 a year which negates the right of an average fan like me to ever criticize his fragile psyche but, seriously, Watson, GROW A PAIR!!!

Anyway...I could rant for the next 72 hours. The point is after these stomach churning losses how do we, as fans, react. You supposedly learn more in defeat than in victory. Right? Some of my words have been harsh. I apologize to our players and coaching staff. I do. Honestly. Sometimes you have to vent a little. I still unconditionally love my guys. Coach Bo Pelini is the right man for this job and we need to be patient. They need to learn from defeat, too, and hopefully they can prove they possess the character I know they all have and right this ship. I believe. Husker Nation is skeptical this morning - it's only natural - so as coach Norman Dale of "Hoosiers" once said to skeptical Hickory High - "This is your team."

Our team's next game comes this Saturday against Baylor at 11 in the morning on Halloween Day. Nine years ago at 11 in the morning on Halloween Day in Iowa City I watched my beloved team get obliterated by Oklahoma right down to the bitter end. It was a tough one. So on Halloween Night I went out in a costume that consisted of me wearing no shirt (even though it was in the 40 degree range) with a red N painted on my chest and my red Nebraska flag for a cape. If anyone asked me what I was (usually after pointing out Nebraska had been shellacked earlier in the day) I would respond: "I'm The Non Fairweather Fan." Win or lose, or lose in the worst game I've ever seen them play, I stand by them.

If we (God forbid) lose to Baylor this Saturday, well, I'm probably too old to be going out on fall nights with no shirt and a red N painted on my chest.

But don't think for a second that I won't.


Wretched Genius said...

Meanwhile the Hawkeyes were busy pissing off movie critics by having their entire game come down to one last play with 2 seconds left on the clock, resulting in victory and setting a new record for their school.

Nick Prigge said...

Good for the Hawkeyes. Honestly. They're having one of those once-in-a-lifetime seasons. I hope all Iowa fans are appreciating it to the utmost.

Rory Larry said...

And I'm sure you know when the last time, Nebraska had 8 turnovers. 1972 vs. Iowa State

Jacob said...

I talked to a random Husker fan deep in the depths of Bushwick last night. He didn't speak, he just shook his head. I thought of you and hoped that you handn't broken your writing hand against the wall.

Nick Prigge said...

I didn't punch anything but I did use more bad words in conjunction with the name (Nebraska Wide Receiver) Niles Paul than I have ever used in conjunction with anyone else's name in my life.

This guy needs pigskin magnets embedded into his hands or something because if he fumbles or drops a pass ONE MORE TIME my head might explode.