Is it just me or has the state of officiating around the NCAA just been absolutely abysmal this year? Now, I'm not just talking about Nebraska's games here, either. All across the country it seems like something gets fouled up and not simply once or twice that creates the controversy that makes the sport what it is and makes blood feuds that much more intense, but goodness, some of it has been absolutely horrendous.
Well, with that out of the way, Nebraska tripped down to Waco for a game with the 4-1 Baylor Bears, a team that felt that they had built a solid foundation, which they had for not only being 4-1 in the first place, but winning a Big XII road game for the first time since the conference's inception. Baylor had big dreams for a bowl bid and what better icing on that cake than a win over another team that was seemingly surging: Nebraska.
During the opening drive, it seemed like Nebraska couldn't catch a break with the zebras and I'm sorry to go back to this, but what the heck is a "simultaneous fumble recovery" anyway? Point out to me this page in the NCAA Rulebook. Sub-section and paragraph, if you would. Still, Nebraska's offense came out and clicked pretty well with Zac Taylor looking like his now normal accurate self hitting 18 completions out of 32 attempts, many to what appears to be his favorite target these days in Terrence Nunn who still manages to make catches that'll drop your jaw faster than today's USC-Notre Dame game.
Nunn's acrobatic catches make me think back to what Bobby Newcombe could've been before his knee injury and honestly, I can't help but think what he'll be like as a junior and a senior in this offense. Several wide receivers stepped onto the field in Waco including Todd Peterson, a young man from Grand Island, NE. that I doubt anyone actually expected to make a back-of-the-end-zone-by-an-inch touchdown grab.
While some may be disappointed by the lack of points put up by the Nebraska offense, with what was happening during the game, I felt the game plan executed was the safe one and, in the end, the right one to call. When you've been playing five games at home and you expose your team to a hostile crowd (given, 15,000 of them were probably wearing your colors), but still you want to win, the Cornhuskers did that and are now sitting at 5-1 on the year when, alternatively, at this point in 2004, they had one more loss and the worst in school history under their belts.
I felt that Baylor would come into this game riding emotion and they did. I also felt that Nebraska would come into this game with an attitude and they did. Emotion will run out and can be crushed immediately. An attitude is something you take pride in and do not lose. For reference, take a look at the Texas Tech game. I feel Baylor was strongly outmanned here as one of their main threats in Paul Mosley was corralled by the Blackshirts in what seemed like fairly easy style. However, the defensive backs still are having some issues with decisions once coverage needs to be made.
Overall, it was just what many Cornhuskers no doubt felt it was going to be: a dogfight and whether they were fighting the men in gold and green or the ones in white and black, they came out on top and with another victory for the season. I was quite happy to see Lydon Murtha get some game time and do fairly well, also as it appears that this game may prove very positive for both he and Zach Bowman.
Next up is a trip to Missouri and while the Tigers have been struggling a bit lately, they always get up for a trip to Nebraska in Columbia. After being one the victims of one of the finest performances the Cornhuskers were able to muster last year, no doubt the Battle for the Nebraska-Missouri Bell will probably end up much like this evening's contest did and in the end, whoever can land that knockout blow will be the victor. At this point? I feel it could go either way, but still have confidence that Nebraska can come in and get a little retribution for 2003.