Then came the trip to Ames. Freshman QB sensation Tommie Frazier and the Husker offense appeared unstoppable. Only Jim Walden and the Cyclone coaches had figured out a way to stop them.
Don't give ‘em the damn ball.
With Seiler directing the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-turf ‘attack,' ISU painstakingly ran the ball and the clock. It was ball control that would have made Bill Parcells proud. With what seemed like hours between offensive series, Frazier, (who was hampered by a sore ankle) and the NU offense were never able to find a rhythm – sort of like a hot golfer having to wait 15 minutes between shots. What Husker fan will ever forget the site of Seiler loping down the field in the fourth quarter on a long run that set up the clinching score? Not only unbelievable, but unimaginable as well.
Now it's 2002, and the only thing Iowa State lacks this time is the element of surprise. They've replaced Seiler with a Frazier-like, doing-everything signal caller named Seneca Wallace, who is the best QB Nebraska will face this season (sorry, Chris Simms). Given the opportunity, his offense will score often against anyone – as he did in the season opener against fourth-ranked Florida State...a game the Cyclones were one play away from winning.
Make no mistake about it; the pressure is squarely on Nebraska. This is a game with monumental implications for this season and the future of the program. But the pressure is not on Craig Bohl and the beleaguered Nebraska defense. Nope. No matter what they do when Wallace is on the field, ISU is going to score points. The secret to beating Seneca Wallace? Keep him on the sidelines. Give the Cyclones a dose of their ten-year-old medicine.
Yep, the pressure this week is on Frank Solich and the Husker offense. It's their turn to play keep away.
For Nebraska to beat Iowa State, Solich must cast aside the formula promoted so far this season – that is to play great special teams, win the battle of field position, and let his young offense take advantage of shorter fields. Didn't work against Penn State, and won't in Ames, either. And if they try to simply wear down the Cyclones and set them up to be beaten in the fourth quarter, NU will be hopelessly and helplessly behind before the final quarter begins…and we know that NU is not a ‘comeback' sort of a team.
For Nebraska to win this game, it's going to take a powerful offensive performance. Several 80-yard drives. Ball control - and winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. Nebraska must incorporate the ‘three-yards at a crack' mentality that the Cyclones used so well in 1992. Can they? You would think so. It's something this offense should be well equipped to do. With what should be a highly motivated offensive line, and a proven bull rusher in Dahraan Diedrick, this style should be successful against a suspect Cyclone D.
So the pressure is on the Big Red shoulders of the Husker offense to produce in what is a landmark game for Nebraska football. Lose it, and all the naysayers who surfaced after last season will be proven right. Lose it, and the nine-win season streak is in serious jeopardy. Lose it, and travel agencies better start looking into travel packages for Boise, Idaho in December.
Win it, and you've beaten a ranked team on the road, you're 1-0 in the conference, the Penn State debacle is behind you…and you're right on schedule again…
…and maybe we can all erase the memory of Marv Seiler for good…