Harken back to January 1, 1994. A roundly criticized and mocked Nebraska squad takes the field in the opponent's home state, with nobody giving them a chance to win. Nobody except fans wearing red, that is. A tremendous gritty, gutty performance with the defense dominating the opponent, and the offense making just enough plays. Nebraska gets a field goal with just over a minute remaining. But the kickoff goes out of bounds, and then the defense gives up a big play aided by a personal foul call to put the opponent into field goal range. Even the refs putting a second back on the clock for a final field goal. And in the end, Nebraska comes up just short.
What can you say about Ndamukong Suh. In the end, he simply dominated the Texas offensive line and nearly willed Nebraska to victory. Yes, I know Mister Suh likely won't win the Heisman next weekend; it's an offensive award and Suh's blocking tonight wasn't Heisman worthy. But if any voters go back and read the criteria for the award in "most outstanding", it's now clear who, in all fairness, should run away with the vote next week. Most voters will likely limit their consideration to offensive players sadly and use some lame "anybody who put up x numbers playing Y position should win the Heisman" criteria to justify their ballot.
Did you even watch tonight's game? Did you see a man dominate Texas in their home state? Did you see him do that all season? Did you see him nearly disembowel Blaine Gabbert?
Oh that's right, he's a defensive player. Let's talk about Mark Ingram, who had a nice performance for Alabama. Colt McCoy making plays down the stretch for Texas. Coby Gerhardt looked good last week as well. They're all worthy offensive candidates.
Enough of that.
I'm sure a lot of fans are going to be ripping Shawn Watson and the offense tonight, but I'm not sure what people expected tonight. Texas leads the Big XII in defense, and we've known this offense has struggled almost all season. We all could have hoped for Nebraska to do better, but now after 13 games, we know what Nebraska's offense is. Bad. Why it is that way is something we'll debate in the offseason, but I think it has less to do with playcalling and quarterbacking as it does with wide receivers and offensive line play.
Looking for something to take away as a positive? Brandon Kinnie made a couple of clutch catches tonight in key situations to put Nebraska in position to win the game. He's a sophomore; there's something to build on.
By all accounts, Nebraska left the field completely angry with the ending. That's good, but the most important thing is focusing that anger in the days and weeks to come. In 1994, Nebraska coined the slogan "unfinished business" after that heartbreaking defeat to Florida State. Every Husker player can turn around and look at themselves and channel that anger and disappointment into making sure this never happens again. That Orange Bowl loss was the beginning of an incredible run for Nebraska football.
I don't know how Nebraska will respond to tonight's game. They can choose to back down and sulk... or fight back, become better, and resolve to never allow themselves to be in that position again. The Huskers didn't finish tonight, and for as proud as we can be about being so close, it was just that. Close, but no cigar. Unfinished business.