Shooting Point Blank

Going into a game that would determine who had the lead for the Big XII North, The Battle for the Nebraska-Missouri Bell had very little fanfare nation-wide. Perhaps what was more important for Nebraska were the questions surrounding both the team and the fan base. There had been talk of motivation and of a red-out, but would they prove as useful as intended?

I think that it's very important for me to take the time to speak to you, the reader, as I did mid-week before about the fan participation level at Memorial Stadium.  The ball started to roll at that point as folks in various outlets called for a red-out and word quickly spread around the state and the nation that for those in attendance: you had better make life hell for Missouri.  Indeed, I was treated to an atmosphere that I hadn't seen in a long time.  This was a game that made me proud to call myself a Nebraska Cornhusker and I owe that, in part, to the crowd.  The red clad loons amongst the throng were as loud as they were during the final three minutes as they were the first three.  It was a treat to be able to call myself a member of the crowd on October 30, 2004 because they truly made "it's in Lincoln" mean something all over again.


The challenge is still out there, though, folks.  Today was a great foundation that was lain down.  What we have to do is continue to build on it.  When Colorado comes knockin' in late November, we must do to them what we did to Brad Smith and company on this day.  Again, it is time to take back the crowd from the bitter and put it in the hands of the willing, able and prideful.  Today was a huge step in that direction and I salute all in attendance for it.  Truly, I felt I was amongst 77,616 of my best friends.


As far as the game goes: Wow, where to start?  I know a lot of people are going to harp on the number of yards (or lack thereof) gained by the Nebraska offense.  Well, that's all well and good if you really, really like yardage.  I guess the question you have to ask yourself is this: Would you rather be out-gained and win (big, I might add) or have a great day as far as yardage goes and lose (Southern Miss, anyone)?  I felt that the play of the O-line really dictated the offensive performance today as, when they did click, you saw things like Cory's runs early and late in the game.  However, I was rather disheartened by seeing some of Missouri's linemen flow free into the backfield a little more often than I'd like (which is never, but I digress).  The offense did just enough to garner a "Well, yeah, but…" from me.


Defensively, sweet mother of Zanzibar!  I don't know what Charlie McBride told those kids before the game, but he's really got a future as a motivational speaker when he's done with football.  Brad Smith was getting sacked more times than a coach at UTEP and hurried more often than a Frank Solich offense to the line of scrimmage.  Really, the entire unit played absolutely inspired and before you even dare to pull out the yardage card, they held Missouri to three points.  THREE POINTS!  Also, I find it rather interesting that Kevin Cosgrove could accomplish what the Great and Powerful Pelini couldn't.  That's just something to think about.


Special teams even decided to make an appearance with Adam Shanle's antics on punts and Sam Koch's leg.  I mean, even Santino Panico got a wild hair and decided to attempt to run the ball back on punts, JUKING a Missouri player at one point, yes Santino JUKED someone.  How is this even possible?  Suffice it to say that while the offense wasn't nearly firing on all cylinders, the defense did what it needed to do to make the game winnable.  With a dash of excellent special teams play, Nebraska not only wins but wins by 21 points.


Blankman's Career High-Five Award goes to Cory Ross.  Ross accumulated 194 yards on 19 carries for a whopping 10.2 yards per carry average coupled with two touchdowns.  86 of those yards came on a run that produced so much kinetic energy, I felt my fillings melt.  Honestly, Cory's got more moves than Darren Sproles on a Slip N' Slide.  He continues to excel where, honestly, many probably didn't expect him to.  The offensive line has been your classic example of the overachiever thanks in large part to Coach Wagner.  Cory's career-high total shows that they're capable and on this day, were serviceable enough to make things happen just enough.


Blankman's Charlie McBride Memorial Award goes to the Blackshirts.  Not one individual, per say, but the entire unit.  After taking such harsh criticisms and a few beatings, the ‘Shirts reverted back to their old form today.  Barrett Ruud had 17 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, half a sack, a quarterback hurry and a pack of gum to average everything out for shipping purposes.  Benard Thomas had 3 tackles for loss and 1 ½ sacks, so much love for the dread-head with the golden smile.  Wali Muhammad and Adam Carriker also contributed to the cause with three quarterback hurries a piece.  Really, it goes beyond that, though, as this bunch played like a true unit and if they continue with this trend, the games in the future are looking much, much brighter.


Blankman's Boot N' Loot Award goes to Adam Shanle and Sam Koch.  Koch contributed 10 punts for 395 yards and believe me, the kid helped in a tremendous way today.  The field position battle was won today on the leg of the gent from Seward.  Adam didn't do much aside from causing mass hysteria and confusion on the part of the Missouri special teams units.  Shanle's blocked punt and recovery of a bobbled one helped Nebraska to 14 of their 24 points and showed us all why the coaches have taken to Scott's little bro. 


Honestly, folks, it was a game that gave me chills from the start to the finish and made me, as I said, generally proud to be a Cornhusker fan.  Having the 1994 team there with Tom and Charlie, the flyover, the fireworks, all of it, it just was so special, so right.  It might not be a day that was greeted with a lot of hype, but really, it didn't need to be.  Everything came together for Nebraska: the crowd, the team, the unity was there again.  Despite the complaints and negativity that some have taken to in this season, today was just a day in which we could all take a breath, let it out and smile.  Nebraska controls its own destiny in the Big XII North Division and is one step closer towards their goal of the Big XII Championship Game.


Questions, commentary and anything that won't drop my IQ can be sent to


===Brandon a.k.a. Blankman #71===

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