On the road again

It's gut-check time. It's put up or shut up time. Ok, how about it's desperation time, because if NU doesn't get a win against a tough Aggie team, you can say that the wheels of the Nebraska season have officially came off.

Usually, Nebraska fans count the number of wins to see how many games above the trademark 9 wins the Huskers will get this year. Now, they are counting them and counting them over, trying to get over the fact that just getting to 9 could be a feat in iteself.

You got a game against Kansas that's winnable. You got a game against Colorado that should have enough emotional motivation for anyone to come out with a victory. But, then you have the rest.

And the first of those is Texas A&M.

Before this year, you could depend on the Aggies for two things. Good defense, bad offense. If you could find a way to score on the "Wrecking Crew", you had a good chance to win the game.

Well, thanks to Texas A&M replacing their offensive coordinator mid-season, now the Aggies have an offense as well.

Led by their newfound star, Dustin Long at quarterback, the Aggies have found the endzone. Heck, they've lived in the endzone practically as in the last three games, they have scored at least 40 pts. per contest. In those three games, Long has managed around 1,000 total yards passing, thrown 12 touchdown strikes and has been intercepted only 3 times.

For any defense, this is a daunting offense to stop, but for a Nebraska defense that has been pounded at times, even by the likes of Oklahoma State, well, it's bad.

Nebraska ranks 51st against the pass this year. That's worse.

The Blackshirts will have to face Long and anywhere from two to even five receivers at a time. Four Aggie receivers have double-digit catches on the year.

Oh yeah. Did I forget to mention, this game is on the road. On the road in College Station, one of the toughest road games in the country. It hasn't panned out that way for the Aggies this year thus far, but there's no doubting just how big the "12th Man" is for the school when opponents come to town. The key is taking them out of the game early.

Something Nebraska hasn't been able to do.

Actually, Nebraska does do something on the road with a lot of consistency. They beat themselves. Penalties, fumbles and just dumb mistakes have made Nebraska a team trying to win into a team trying not to lose.

Let's take a look at NU's mental lapses and butterfinger syndrome while playing on the road.

Against Penn State: 3 interceptions and 7 penalties for 60 yards. Also, a ball on the carpet, but the Huskers recovered.

Against Iowa State: 1 interception and 5 total fumbles, resulting in 4 recovered by Iowa State, totaling 5 turnovers for the game. 10 total penalties for 75 yards.

Against Oklahoma State: NU's cleanest road game, Nebraska putting only 1 ball on the carpet and throwing no interceptions. They had 6 penalties for 55 yards.

The one team that looks real good at this point in the season that NU beat, Arizona State, you know how many turnovers Nebraska had in that game? None.

Numbers like that are scary if you are a Husker fan as you know if NU stays on it's present course, the Aggies don't have to worry about beating the Huskers, because they are more than willing to do it for them.

That's just part of the problem.

An inconsistent QB, an offensive line that is likewise, unsteady in it's effectiveness and coaches on either side of the ball that at times seem to be coaching with a sense of dubiety.

The bright spots are just that. Spots. Intermittent glimmers that are enough to bring a sense of hope to all those that follow the Big Red.

David Horne, the freshman phenom out of Omaha Central, who was NU's first (and only) back to go over 100 yards in a game.

Matt Herian's prolific nature, while he has caught only two passes, both were significant in each of those games, one going for a touchdown and one taking NU to within ten years of the goal line that would eventually lead to a score.

Ross Pilkington and Mark LeFlore's excellent exhibitions of their talent and of course, their speed.

Each is a glimmer and when all put together, all executing like thus in one game, that glimmer becomes a glow.

On the road though, this year, someone keeps playing with the light switch.

And now, they are going to have to go on the road, face players like Davis and Pennright and try to find what it is they so urgently need, a game not within the walls of Memorial that can take them back to Lincoln talking about a win, rather than trying to explain a defeat.

Under almost any circumstance, I could see NU winning almost any game. Maybe it's the brainwashing I took (along with everyone else) during the "glory days" when NU was near unbeatable. That feeling that just forces you to pick NU because, well, it's NU damnit and they just don't lose like this.

It is NU, but not the one we are used to seeing and unless something dramatic happens, this game should be a repeat of the other road debacles for the Huskers.

Even in a monsoon, I think the Aggies take this one, because I think that NU's defense simply can't stop a constant bombardment from Long.

And that's probably what they are going to get.

My pick:

Texas A&M: 35

Nebraska: 21

Players of the game for NU:

Offense: David Horne

Defense: Barrett Ruud


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