In our CornNation predictions this week, I admitted I wasn't sure what to expect this week. Left brain went NU 49-9, right side of the brain went NU 34-31. Turns out that prediction better matched the halves. First half, Nebraska looked fairly solid...but in the second half, we saw some mistakes like we saw last season.
So let's focus on the good:
Cody Glenn. People pooh-poohed his conversion to linebacker, but he was solid most of the day. Not perfect, by any means. But he made plays all day, and that's something we didn't see much of last season on defense.
Joe Ganz. Well, at least the first three quarters, a very solid performance running and passing. He's the first Husker quarterback to have four 300-yard passing games, which is impressive considering he's only started four games.
Nate Swift. Yeah, he's not a speed burner...but he gets open and makes the catch. A nice game.
Play calling. Offensively, I liked the varied looks on offense, especially the two back sets getting two of NU's three I-backs into the game simultaneously. More please!
Effort. We saw more effort tonight on defense than most of last season.
Alex Henery from 44 yards out. ESPN just pointed out this oddity: Four 44 yard field goals tonight. You won't see that again.
Tunnel Walk. Best tunnel walk entrance in several years; maybe one of the best ever. No flying Sears Trophies, but nice animation that recalled the images (Tommie Frazier, Terry Connealy, and Eric Crouch for starters) of years past. Also great was a video feature featuring the refrain from Paul McCartney's "Get Back (to where you once belonged)."
Offensive Line. To be sure, the Broncos tried to shut down the Husker running game, and they succeeded. A huge concern.
Mistakes. The Broncos capitalized on a bunch of Husker mistakes, especially in the 2nd half. Anthony West's two 15 yard penalties were the biggest defensive disappointments in the first half.
Missing players. Rickey Thenarse, Armando Murillo, Lydon Murtha. Murtha wasn't a surprise, but the other two were. Bo Pelini mentioned Friday that Matt O'Hanlon might start, but didn't say that Thenarse wouldn't play at all. (The World-Herald reports that Thenarse had his shoulder wrapped up on the sideline.) Internet reports (and the World-Herald) suggests that Murillo was hurt as well. Eric Hagg and Prince Amakurama both played well tonight in relief.
All in all, a win is a win. I felt a lot better at halftime than I did after the game. If they can work on the problems that emerged in the second half and prevent recurrances, Husker fans should be pleased. And let' s be honest: Husker fans are happier tonight than fans of Pitt (hee hee hee), Texas A&M, and UTEP. (The MAC looked fairly solid this weekend.)
But by that same token... last season, Nebraska throttled Nevada 52-7 to open the season, though it was all downhill from there. Hopefully this game wasn't the high point of 2008.