When Nebraska did as much as it could to lose by committing so many personal fouls, it was a personal foul that was actually not a bad call, but a horrendous call, that kept an Aggie drive alive.
Chalk up an astronomical count of fouls for the Huskers:
Two false starts on senior tackle, D. J. Jones
One Personal Foul on senior offensive guard, Ricky Henry
Two personal fouls on sophomore tight end, Ben Cotton - both on the same play
Two personal fouls on sophomore defensive end Eric Martin on special teams
Holding on redshirt freshman tackle Jeremiah Sirles
Holding on senior offensive guard Keith Williams
One false start on junior offensive tackle Marcel Jones
Two pass interference calls on one drive, one by sophomore safety Courtney Osborne and the other, on junior cornerback Alfonzo Dennard
Intentional grounding by Taylor Martinez
Illegal formation on the offense
And there was even a personal foul on Bo Pelini himself
But it was the second foul on Osborne, a personal foul late hit on the quarterback that took a failed third and long play by the Aggies, and made it a first down, which ultimately led to the go ahead field goal.
And I don't care who you are, watch that play again, look for the so-called foul.
It wasn't there. It didn't happen.
But maybe it would have never gotten called if Pelini himself hadn't been riding the refs the entire game like they were Secretariat.
It's sad, too.
It was a game effort by a defense which did all it could to win while its own offense seemingly did all it could to lose.
Taylor Martinez gets injured by his own player as center Mike Caputo gets shoved off the line and back into Martinez. And when Caputo went to plant a foot to stop his momentum, his cleat went right on Martinez' bad ankle.
Then those fouls.
Oh, those fouls.
16 of them for a whopping 145 yards
And for Texas A&M?
Two penalties for 10 yards
And no turnovers
The Aggies commit two penalties no turnovers, and they win by three.
I guess Nebraska had to lose one of those, and I suppose there will be many who will say that penalty-palooza was as much Bo Pelin's fault, even though it was his own offense that was doing most of the damage.
It certainly puts a big cloud over great performances in this game:
Senior safety/LB Eric Hagg was a monster all game. He may not have had the stats that fellow Huskers Lavonte David did with his 14 tackles, four of which were for a loss; or Prince Amukamara, who notched 10 tackles himself. But Hagg was everywhere. In coverage in the flats, he was either completely blowing up a play or making a great tackle after a play was made. He was seemingly and sometimes single-handedly forcing Aggie quarterback Ryan Tannehill to panic a bit, tuck or hold onto the ball longer than he should.
And on offense, Rex Burkhead is an absolute warrior. He may be the toughest kid to tackle in the conference. For someone who doesn't go at a bull-rushing 230 lbs., he's like a bull to bring down. On that drive following Pelini's personal foul, Burkhead had one rush for 33 yards, which got the Huskers out of the shade of their own end zone. Then he had another four-yard rush after that, which he made most of it going backwards as he was shoving the pile as far as he could. 13 rushes for 74 yards, and a lot of those yards came the hard way.
Truthfully, Nebraska should have never been in this game.
You can't make those kinds of mistakes and see the team you are playing make almost none.....and win.
You can't turn the ball over and see the team you are playing not turn any over...and win
But they still almost did.
Have to give it to them, despite everything they did that kept the Aggies in the game.
But back to those penalties, this isn't the first time we have seen a Nebraska team implode when it comes to that sort of thing. And this isn't the first time we have seen Bo Pelini go off on everyone, including his freshman quarterback who had just gotten back to the field following being in the locker room after the injury. Bo went off on everyone from him to Eric Martin to Ben Cotton, etc. so on and so forth...
...and yes, he was going off on the refs.
Boy, was he
We remember this Bo, the Bo we saw his first year here, when games weren't going well. Even Bo said following the Missouri game where Nebraska was crushed by the Tigers, 52-17. Pelini said in the press conference the following week after that game, his own family said he looked a little bit loony.
But we hadn't seen that Bo this year. Well, not until tonight. And maybe if Bo isn't all over the refs, saying all manner of things..Courtney Osborne doesn't get completely jobbed on that fateful play.
But this game isn't about that one penalty that wasn't. Just like when Nebraska lost to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on a last minute throw to a receiver that former Husker safety Matt O'Hanlon simply lost sight of.
It wasn't one play.
Heck, I'd argue that if it's one play, it's Martinez getting injured that made the most impact of all.
But you can bet that with all of the contributing things to the aura of this game; the Big 12 farewell tour, only Nebraska having a player in this conference suspended (Eric Martin) due to a hit and this penalty fest down in College Station - many of the Husker faithful will be crying foul yet again.
Personally, Nebraska was amazingly good at making the mistakes that are supposed to be simpler than the fundamentals of the game. But their defense was for most of the game, making up for it.
Seems like last year, doesn't it?
But this wasn't the CCG. Nebraska still has a shot at that with a win at home next weekend against Colorado.
And it wasn't one second that made the difference in this one either.
It wasn't even one penalty, but that was a big one - a big one that should have never gotten called.
Nebraska probably would have still lost, because outside of Burkhead and bits and pieces by others here and there, it was a unit that was an offense completely stifled without a healthy freshman QB to spark them on.
But man, to come down to that....
....maybe for refs who were tired of getting lambasted and verbally abused for a decent chunk of the game, this was their way to say "thanks."
But I wouldn't be expecting Pelini to say "You're welcome."