Tell me if you've seen this plotline before: Nebraska gets off to a good start and takes a commanding lead. The Huskers are running well, throwing well, and playing pretty good defense. They look like a pretty darn good football team. Then around halftime, they hit a wall. The offensive line becomes a sieve, the running game gets stuck in neutral, Zac Taylor couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and the defense forgets how to tackle. We saw this against Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma State. And saw it again today.
What's the problem? Hard to say, but it's probably a combination of factors. Players losing focus? Probably. Coaches not making adjustments? Perhaps. Coaches making bad adjustments? More likely. Opposing coaches making better adjustments? Sure looks that way. Opponents getting momentum and outplaying the Huskers? Definitely.
In any event, things were looking rather bleak for the Big Red until Barry Turner blocked that long field goal attempt by A&M with 1:43 left in the game. Suddenly, there was a glimmer of hope. Todd Peterson made 2 clutch catches (including a 22 yard reception on 4th & 3), A&M takes a dumb roughing the passer penalty to turn a 4th & 10 situation for the Huskers into 1st & goal, and Maurice Purify made the leaping catch for the win.
ABC may have named Zac Taylor player of the game, but my vote goes to Peterson, the unheralded no-star walkon from Grand Island.
Maurice Purify is the best pass-catching wide receiver to ever wear Husker red. Of course, considering the history of Nebraska's I-formation offense, that's a little like saying you've found the best Italian restaurant in Ecuador. He's likely to be the first Nebraska receiver to get drafted to the NFL since Irving Fryar.
This was a game Nebraska and Bill Callahan needed. Oh sure, Nebraska still had the inside track for the Big XII championship game, but another loss against the a southern division team would still have left a lot of questions. And with Kansas State's upset over Tejas this evening, the North may finally be ready to rise out of the muck. And if Colt McCoy is lost to the Bovines for an extended period of time, fans can certainly wonder if Nebraska couldn't surprise in Kansas City in 3 weeks.
But not if they continue to meltdown in the 2nd half.