Over 800 former Huskers in attendance. Former coach and legend, Tom Osborne standing vigile. Another sellout crowd, beaming, possibly buzzing with anticipation. Could Nebraska really lose this game? What would happen if they did?
The first half of the game, Husker fans were no doubt re-living their nightmares last year. Even as the first-half ended and the players were going to their lockers, boos reigned supreme, acknowledging the ineffectiveness of the NU offense, especially towards the end of the half, where there appeared to be some clock mismanagement, coupled with Jammal Lord reverting to his form of last year, passing well at times, but preceded half-time with a barrage of inaccurate passes, stalling the Nebraska offense. An offense that was in fact moving the ball most of the time, but was stalled one time after another by penalties.
The second half however, the defense took over and last year when fans saw the NU defense open up 3rd quarters allowing scores, the blackshirts showed up in fine fashion, setting the tone for the rest of the game, the defense dominating OSU.
Rashaun Woods will probably still be a Heisman hopeful for the year, but Pelini's defense put a serious statistic-damper on his season, holding the All-American to just 57 yards on 5 catches, Woods managing to haul in the only score on the day for Oklahoma State.
Josh Fields, who was used to putting yards on teams at an alarming rate, amounted to be the one being alarmed the most as the NU defense was in his face most of the day. Fields managed not even 100 yards passing on the day as the secondary intercepted, Josh Bullocks leading the team with 2 picks on the day.
3 turnovers wouldn't be all that Nebraska forced as a Jerrell Pippens' sack forced one more turnover and starting running back, Tatum Bell coughed up yet another that subsequently ended up in a Barrett Ruud score as he scooped up the ball and shuffled into the end zone.
As a team, Oklahoma State put up 183 yards in total offense, OSU averaging over 260 yards a game, just passing the ball alone last season.
The defense did indeed set the tone for the entire game, causing a total of 4 turnovers, holding one of the most potent offenses in the country last year to an anemic total in yards and points and proving as their star linebacker, Demorrio Williams stated, "The Blackshirts are back".
When you are Nebraska, coming off a season like Nebraska had last year, what the Huskers needed in this game was a shot in the arm. They got that, while giving Josh Fields a shot in the head. Well, the head, the sternum, the back and just about any other place you can hit a QB.
Nebraska now stands 1-0, 1-0 in conference play more importantly and wait for Utah State next week to come to Lincoln.
Yes, there will be some or maybe even many that will chide the NU offense for being their own worst enemy at times, but with the performance of the blackshirts, NU fans collectively will be breathing a little easier the rest of the weekend.
NU didn't get all their respect back, but possibly much of their self-respect and now for the fans, they will be looking when another payback game comes to Lincoln in two weeks when Penn State comes calling.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
NU Wins; Blackshirts dominate
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