Former Huskers see themselves in visiting team

Mr. run-the-ball guy sure got his wish under the bright lights inside Memorial Stadium Saturday night. Only issue is that guy was a Badgers fan.
Instead of trying to be someone they’re not, Wisconsin ran the ball down the Huskers’ throat on its way to a 38-17 victory in a game that was much closer than that for the majority.
My college roommate and I watched helplessly from Section 40 as the Sconnies went back to the bare basics of football, calling running play after running play. Eventually, Wisconsin called 22 consecutive running plays in the second half as the Big Red continued to trip over its own feet.
On a night where Nebraska was honoring its last national championship team from 20 seasons ago, the game had an odd feeling. Throughout the evening, the Huskervision screen showed highlights of both the offensive and defensive players from that 1997 team. The offensive highlights reminded Husker Nation that the Huskers averaged 393 yards per game on the ground that year.
That ’97 squad watched from the sideline as one of the two teams in the game ran the ball with force, totaling 353 yards on 49 carries. Wisconsin did to the current Huskers what that ’97 team did to every one of its opponents that year.
The pregame was filled with such nervous anticipation. We had a very good chance in this game. I mean, if Iowa State can win its first game in Norman over Oklahoma since 1990, its second win over the Sooners since 1962 and just its sixth win ever, there’s no reason we couldn’t hand it to the Badgers at home. We were sporting a 20-game home winning streak at night and had only lost five times ever at home under the lights. No one was giving us a chance, even the bookies with nearly a two-touchdown spread. We have ’em right where we want ’em!
As if the tunnel walk on the Huskervision screen from 1997 wasn’t enough to get me to run through 15 brick walls, seeing former Husker and ’97 champion Grant Wistrom in the locker room -- sporting a modern-day Blackshirt leading the team in the pregame prayer -- there’s no way we lose!
And then, pick six. Ugh.
The majority of the Memorial Stadium sellout crowd was donning black shirts as requested by the student section, however, this play on Nebraska’s first drive had me seeing red.
It was a third and two near the red zone. The Huskers were on a phenomenal drive to begin the game, using Devine Ozigbo to rush the ball down Wisconsin’s gullet. No. 22 was busting up the Badgers with runs of six yards and up on a consistent basis, getting good push behind that offensive line.
So why on a third and two during a drive you’ve been running it with such success do you decide to throw a pass to Ozigbo, whose strength is not catching the ball and risk such a disastrous start?
At the very worst, you run the ball with Ozigbo and he can’t pick it up and you send Drew Brown out there to take a 3-0 lead. Instead, you essentially spot the road team seven points and completely take the air out of the stadium.
Players and coaches said after the game they had practiced that third and two passing play over and over again in practice and had what they wanted there -- just got a bad break. Don’t get cute on third down -- run the dadgum ball.
A very good majority of the 1997 team returned to Lincoln over the weekend for the reunion celebration, but one notable player was absent. That’s ole No. 7.
He was a little busy on Saturday night, knocking the creampuff out of Cincinnati, 51-23. The Knights are averaging 47.5 points per game – the nation’s No. 1 offense. They’re 4-0 for the first time since 1982. Last year, Scott Frost’s first year at the helm, UCF finished 6-7. The year before that, without him, they were 0-12.
In less than a year and a half, Frost has completely turned that program upside down and moving forward full steam ahead, ranked in the top 25. Mike Riley is in his third year and the Huskers are 3-3 and seemingly more lost than before he showed up.
If you want Frost to make a triumphant return home, you better scoop him up before someone from the SEC or ACC does. It’ll be sooner than later.
I loathe the “give the guy more time” argument. It’s weak. Jim Harbaugh completely flipped the script his first year at Michigan. Nick Saban had Alabama winning the national championship in his third year there and a 12-2 record in year two. Bob Stoops took a struggling Oklahoma program and had them winning a national title in year two.
The right guy can come in and do the same thing here, too.
Frost wasn’t on the sideline with his former teammates Saturday night. But he might be sooner than later.
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)