Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wednesday Night Beer: Vegas Isn't So Pessimistic

Many Husker fans are surprised by the line setting up with Oklahoma being a six point favorite over the Huskers. Looking at the Husker offense in recent weeks, obviously those performances aren't going to cut it against the Sooners.  But look beyond the losses and instead focus on how the team played.  A few key plays, and Nebraska could easily be 7-1 instead of 5-3 at this point...even with a weak offense.  All it took was making a play against Virginia Tech and not fumbling the ball once inside the Iowa State ten yard line.  Even with ugly offense, the Huskers aren't that far off.  Sagarin's points predictor still has Nebraska #16 overall, which tells me the computer sees something as well.

Want some other reasons to have some hope for Saturday?
  • Roy Helu shed his green practice jersey this week.  If his shoulder is healed to the point where he's able to carry the ball (and not turn the ball over), he could start opening up the offense that has sputtered ever since he went down.  If Dontreyvious Robinson can go as well, that's a pretty good one-two punch at I-back to complement Cody Green.
  • Saturday's game at Baylor reminded me of Nebraska's 1999 game against Southern Miss.  In that game, the game plan was rather limited as Eric Crouch took over at quarterback and Bobby Newcombe moved to wide receiver.  A week later, Nebraska opened up the playbook at Missouri and went vertical early and often and from there, it was a race to the Fiesta Bowl and the Big XII Championship.  Not saying this season is going there, just that sometimes an offensive gameplan is limited to ease players into a role.  Nebraska could get away with it against Baylor.  They won't be able to against the Sooners, unless they want to try the Bill Callahan turtle strategy again.
  • Chris Brooks might be healthy and ready to play, giving the Huskers another receiver.  Maybe Menelik Holt or Currenski Gilleylen learned something from the "Phillip Dillard" treatment they've received and are ready to contribute as well.
Bottom line, Nebraska can't beat the Sooners playing like they did the last three weeks. But I also don't believe that's all Nebraska is capable of doing.  They'll need a lot of help from the Blackshirts to win it, but just not making dumb mistakes will go a long way towards giving the Big Red a chance on Saturday night.

UNO hockey jumped into the top ten of both the  USCHO and USA Today polls this week.  Officially, UNO is still undefeated four weeks into the season, with the only blemishes being a tie against Colgate and a controversial shootout loss against Bowling Green last Friday night.  That Friday night shootout probably reflects worse on the CCHA than on UNO.  The Pervert's Jordan Samuels-Thomas was sent off the ice with 16 seconds left in overtime for a coincidental minor penalty, yet was allowed to take a shot in the shootout.  He scored the lone goal in the shootout, giving Bowling Green the apparent victory.  Until, of course, UNO realized that Samuels-Thomas was ineligible to participate in the shootout under NCAA rules.  The CCHA reviewed the situation the next morning, but refused to disallow the ineligible goal.

Not surprising the CCHA failed to act here; the conference is still bitter over UNO's departure for the WCHA next season, and there's no desire to appease a lame-duck conference member.  What would have been fair was to disallow the goal and either (a) give Bowling Green another opportunity to take a shot or (b) declare the shootout tied at 0-0 and revoke the standings point Bowling Green received for winning the shootout.  In that situation, either don't award the point at all or award each team a half point.

It's not going to happen, despite Trev Alberts' protest because the CCHA has no desire to appease Alberts anymore.  So now the Mavs need to simply concentrate on making that point irrelevant as the season progresses.  UNO didn't play their best game on Friday night; something I expected much more of early in this season because of the coaching change.  Being undefeated and ranked this early is a definite positive sign for UNO hockey at this point, and I still expect to see this team really turn it on as the season progresses.  Up next for the Mavs is two games at Michigan State tomorrow and Friday night.


rueschmike said...

Weren't our Huskers a huge favorite against Tech?

rueschmike said...

I'll gladly take my lashings for doubting!!!