Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Night Dessert: Will There Be Pro Baseball Downtown After All?

Today's World-Herald reports that MECA and various interests are still working on identifying an independent league baseball team to play at TD Ameritrade Park.  Make no bones about it; independent league baseball is inferior to AAA baseball from the aspect of the game itself.  But the success of minor league baseball has little to do with the game itself; fans go to be entertained.  It's about the promotions, it's about the event. The Omaha Royals know this; they've done a great job in recent years to improve the promotion and event atmosphere at their games.  But with the Royals leaving Omaha for southwestern Sarpy County has created an opening for a second team in town.  23% of Omahans said they'll attend fewer Royals games now that they've left town, and that's a market that a new team could exploit.  An independent league team will lose to the Royals hands-down on the quality of play, and has a tall task ahead of them to compete with the Royals on a promotion basis, but if they can pull it off, the convenience of playing in a central location could make an independent league team viable.  I know from my perspective that working downtown, I'm more likely to attend a game downtown than in Sarpy County.  Likewise, I know that folks that live or work in Gretna or Papillion are more likely to attend a Royals game.

Two different takes on yesterday's Nebraska-Missouri game from the Missouri perspective.  First, Dave Matter, the excellent sportswriter from the Columbia Daily Tribune, talked about how the Pelini brothers outcoached Gary Pinkel and Mizzou offensive coordinator David Yost. Matter compared it to a chess match, but from what I saw yesterday, Missouri's coaching staff was playing checkers.  Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch went off even further on Pinkel and Yost.  But all the complaining about the officiating is getting a little old.  Did the officials miss a few calls?  Yep.  But calls were missed on both sides of the field.  Yesterday's game wasn't affected by the officiating, unless you only selectively choose which missed calls should have been overturned. I wonder if a certain WHB talk-show host is going to go into this tomorrow?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Missouri Can't Overcome Helu, Blackshirts, and Pinkel

Nebraska answered any questions about playing well at home with a dominating first quarter to take a 24-0 first quarter lead, enroute to a 31-17 victory over Missouri. The Huskers came out firing on all cylinders, evoking the memory of Nebraska's 77-28 blowout of Arizona State in 1995, days after the Huskers were portrayed as a team out of control.  The 1995 team resisted that characterization, and took that out on the Sun Devils; likewise today, the Huskers took out the frustrations from the Eric Martin suspension on the Tigers this afternoon.

Early on, the Blackshirts set the tone for the game both up front and in the secondary. The defensive line dominated the Missouri offensive line from the opening snap of the game. The secondary locked down on the Missouri receivers all afternoon, meaning that in most cases, Gabbert was literally left holding the ball with nothing to do but either run for his life or throw the ball out of bounds.  Gabbert was sacked six times, scrambled a dozen or more times (for some impressive gains), and only completed 18 of 42 passes.

One week after unleashing an impressive rushing attack against Oklahoma, Gary Pinkel and his staff mysteriously decided to abandon that approach in favor of trying to beat the Huskers through the air. Makes sense; Nebraska's shown a weakness to teams that rush the ball, ranking ninth in the Big XII in defending the run, but has been stout defending the pass, ranking first in the conference in defensive pass efficiency. So of course, the logical thing to do if you're Pinkel is to open the game in five wide receiver sets.  This afternoon, Missouri's running backs rushed the ball 12 times compared to 30 last week.  Let's put that in comparison: Blaine Gabbert had 22 rushing attempts, and most of those were scrambles, not designed runs.  The Tigers were one-dimensional today, and that made the Pelini brothers' job that much easier.

True freshman Ciante Evans deserves special note today. After Alfonzo Dennard left the game early with a concussion, Evans came in and played like a veteran.  He had a key goal-line stop on Gabbert.  Many people have wondered what will happen to the secondary when Prince Amukamara graduates; judging from today, Nebraska should be just fine with Evans slipping into Amukamra's spot on the field. Heck, he could even be an upgrade if he's ever called upon to be a captain on the coin toss. In the postgame radio interview, Amukamara admited that he didn't realize that you should defer your choice if you win the coin flip. Instead, he thought you could elect to kick off like a video game and automatically get the ball to start the second half.  Whoops. Sometimes it's the little things that can bite you.

Offensively, it was almost all Roy Helu today. I say "almost", because in the first half, I did see some nice throws by Taylor Martinez. But Martinez's day ended just before halftime when Kenji Jackson nailed Martinez on the knee.  Martinez tried to gut it out in the closing minute, but it was obvious that he wasn't going to be able to run the ball, and was replaced in the second half by Zac Lee.  Helu's long touchdown runs looked even more impressive on the replays than from my vantage point in the south end zone.  Each touchdown run was impressively blocked, but the replays illustrated how Helu outraced the entire Tiger secondary.  Speed kills, and Helu made Missouri look slow on defense.

Impressive performance on both sides of the ball, and the Huskers now are in the drivers seat in the Big XII North, since they have the tiebreaker over Missouri with today's victory. But with road games still to come with surprisingly strong Iowa State and Texas A&M (with a new starting quarterback), the Huskers can't afford another slipup like two weeks ago.

Husker Mike's PostGame Missouri Podcast

PostGame Missouri Podcast after Nebraska's 31-17 victory over Missouri

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Night Beer: Royals Move to Southwest Sarpy County Discourages Omahans

The Omaha World-Herald announced the results of their poll of people throughout the second congressional district about whether they plan to follow the Omaha Royals to their new home southwest of Omaha along highway 370. No surprise that 23% of Omahans plan to attend fewer Royals games as a result. Overall, the poll shows that attendance is likely to stay about the same, as 58% of respondents say the new location won't affect the number of games they attend.  The percentage of people who will attend more or less is about the same and within the margin of error.

That poll comes with a minor flaw as to gauge the overall effect on attendance, as the poll was conducted only in the second congressional district, which included Gretna and other areas of southwest Sarpy County.  Those are among the locations most likely to increase their attendance, meaning that there is a good chance that attendance will increase early on.

But some of the comments indicate to me that many people are still unfamiliar with where the stadium is going; one respondent mentioned that it'll make the "west end of town happy."  Well, maybe.  I live in West Omaha, and the distance between Rosenblatt, TD Ameritrade Park, and the new BFE Park along highway 370 is about the same.  Most people don't realize just how far south (110 blocks south of Dodge) the new stadium is.  I predict that next spring, many people won't realize just how far south it is until they actually go to attend a game and realize they underestimated just where it is.

I fully expect Royals attendance to increase in 2011, but that's not the question.  It's where Royals attendance will be in 2015, once the "new ballpark smell" has worn off.

Speaking of TD Ameritrade Park, the sod is going in, and the field is finally starting to look like a baseball stadium.

Now it's time to turn our attention to tomorrow's Nebraska/Missouri game. I must say that the games of the last couple of weeks have changed my opinion on this game quite a bit.  Namely, I was disappointed in how the Huskers played, and surprised at how Missouri played Oklahoma.  I'm still leaning towards a Husker win, but I see plenty of question marks on both sides.  Which Nebraska team will show up?  The one that dispatched Washington and Kansas State easily, or the one that messed around with South Dakota State?  Which Missouri team will show up?  The one that trailed Illinois and needed a last-minute bomb to defeat San Diego State, or the one that defeated Oklahoma?

The Missouri team I saw last Saturday night was different than the one I've seen previously. Earlier this season, I saw a Missouri offense that was afraid to run the ball inside.  In last year's bowl game against Navy, ESPN commentator Bob Davie criticized Missouri for failing to take advantage of Navy's defense.  Navy cleared out the middle of the field and dared Missouri to run up the gut, and Mizzou offensive coordinator Dave Yost didn't bite, preferring to pass and run sweeps into the teeth of the Midshipmen.  Against the Sooners, the Tigers ran up the middle with success. Add in Blaine Gabbert looking poised and spreading the ball around his receivers, and you had a much different looking Missouri team on the field.

If that team shows up in Lincoln tomorrow, Nebraska could be in for all it wants and then some.  But since it was just one game, that doesn't mean it's automatic.  In fact, it's also possible that Missouri could still be celebrating their victory and mail it in tomorrow.

In other words, I wouldn't be completely surprised by a 30 point victory --- by either team.  If Nebraska doesn't tackle, doesn't run, and doesn't catch the ball (see two weeks ago against Texas), Nebraska could lose, and lose badly.  But if they do that, they could dominate.

In other words, I have no idea what to expect tomorrow.  I think Nebraska will play better than they have played the last two weeks, and Missouri won't play as well as they did last week.  I think that means a three-point Husker victory, but I'm anything but confident in that assessment.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Night Beer: Blais Is Impressed With Mavs, So Am I

When I saw that UNO's hockey schedule opened with back to back road trips to Minnesota and Michigan, I figured that the Mavs would start slowly this season; those places are tough places to play.  I hoped to win one of those games, and maybe two if UNO got extremely lucky.

I never thought UNO could win the first three and be in position to win all four...but that's exactly what UNO did.  Seems Dean Blais is pleased as well.  It's easy to overreact to the start; there's still more than four months of hockey still to be played in the regular season. Last season, UNO got off to a fast start, but struggled in November and December, only come on strong in February to get into playoff contention. It's way to early to early to think about that, but this is a good start.  No hockey this week; it's a bye week.  Next week, Minnesota State (Mankato) comes to town, this time for a conference series.

The World-Herald indicates that TD Ameritrade Park is just about ready for sod. It's about six weeks behind the BFE Ballpark in terms of getting the field in place. Not that it makes much difference; my experience is that grass will grow and set into place pretty well this late in the season.  Especially when you consider the drainage/heating system that will help the field grow in November and March.  Also important for keeping the field in good shape for future Nighthawks games in November and December down the line.  (Yes, I'm optimistic that the Nighthawks will be around for a few years...)

Speaking of the Nighthawks, I was surprised to find that only single tickets remain for Thursday night's game against Las Vegas. Looks like the Nighthawks are well on their way to selling out their third game of the season.  I figured that a Thursday night game might be a tougher ticket to sell, but the evidence is clearly the opposite.

I was surprised to see that ABC selected the Nebraska/Iowa State game for another 2:30 pm kickoff; that'll be Nebraska's fourth game in a row at that timeslot. Not that I'm complaining; I like those afternoon kicks and it means that I'll get the game in HD.  But I had this game penciled in for an FSN broadcast, and I'm not complaining about the upgrade to ABC. FSN broadcasts are something I won't miss next season when Nebraska jumps to the Big Ten.

Two interesting e-mails arrived in my mailbox today.  First, the Davey O'Brien foundation named Taylor Martinez as one of 16 semifinalists for the National Quarterback award. That's a testament to the numbers that Martinez has put up this season.  No, he's not a Heisman candidate this season; in fact, he's unlikely to even make the cut as a finalist. The big thing is that he's doing this as a freshman; if Martinez continues to develop, who knows what he'll do when he's got a little experience under his belt.

The second was to announce that Missouri was the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week. A well-deserved honor in light of the Tigers upset of Oklahoma last weekend. But I had to chuckle at the other teams who were nominated this week.  Iowa State got a nod for beating Texas. That also was well deserved, as it was an impressive upset, since it didn't take any wacky fumbles (let alone eight) to put the Cyclones in the lead. The other nominee:  Western Kentucky, who finally won a division 1-A game by defeating Louisiana-Lafayette 54-21.

That's right: Missouri football is flying high this week, along side Iowa State and Western Kentucky.

2010 BlogPoll: Week 9

This is probably going to be a controversial ballot for a lot of people, though not at the top. Oregon is clearly #1 in my book.  After that, we'll see.  I still think Alabama is the best team in the SEC, though Auburn is making a strong case.  I wonder what scalpers are asking for Iron Bowl tickets?

There is probably going to be a lot of questions raised about my voting of Big XII teams.  For much of Saturday night's game, I thought Oklahoma was the better team, but that they made critical errors to put Missouri up. And in that environment, that's the bump the underdog needed. So yeah, Missouri fans will probably be incensed to find both Nebraska and Oklahoma ahead of the Tigers on this ballot.  If it's any consolation, I dropped Nebraska this week.  Defense looked too porous, but I was also impressed with teams like Arizona.

My response?  You may have a point. I'm going with my gut for now, and we'll look at this again next week. I think these questions will be resolved next Saturday afternoon.

Other moves:  LSU doesn't drop much for playing Auburn tough on the road. Oklahoma State doesn't drop much either, especially since I was struggling to find teams to join the Top 25.  I finally decided to go ahead and put Baylor in, if only for it's ceremonial importance.  Imagine that:  Baylor is the only ranked Big XII team in the state of Texas.  Cal has three losses, but they still have some nice wins.  Don't like it?  Give me another team that should be there instead.
Big XII PowerPoll
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Nebraska
  3. Missouri
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Baylor
  6. Kansas State
  7. Texas
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Iowa State
  11. Colorado
  12. Kansas
Looks to me like Texas may have sold out their season for a win over Nebraska.  Go figure. Hats off to Iowa State.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Huskers Survive Rocky First Half to Beat Oklahoma State

As today's first half unfolded, Nebraska seemed to be still suffering a hangover from last week's game against Texas. The defense simply couldn't wrap up Kendall Hunter, and even worse, couldn't stop Oklahoma State's passing attack in the second quarter. To add insult to injury, the offense looked rather shaky, with Taylor Martinez making trying a little bit too hard to make things happen.  But going into halftime, ABC's halftime interview with Bo Pelini indicated that Pelini felt his players were in the right position to make plays, and just needed to just settle down and do it.

And in the second half, they did just that. The Blackshirts did a better job of tackling, and more importantly, did a better job in coverage to keep Oklahoma State's potent offense contained for the most part. Better tackling on Kendall Hunter, who exposed the Huskers' weakness defending the run like no other back this season.

But what really was the deciding factor was the birth of a dual-threat quarterback. We've seen Taylor Martinez make plays with his legs all season long, but tonight, in the face of yet another defense that dared the Huskers to throw the ball, Martinez finally found a rhythm in the second half, and scorched the Cowboys for 312 yards tonight.  In the first half, he did throw for three touchdowns, but he had some plays that simply had to make Husker fans wince, such as that bizarre attempt to throw the ball away underhanded that begged to be intercepted.  Likewise, on the second play of the second half, Martinez flung the ball towards Niles Paul, who wasn't expecting the ball, but managed to gain possession and get a first down. From there, Martinez got into a groove and simply looked comfortable throwing the ball and dancing away from pressure.

Jeannine Edwards, the ABC sideline announcer, reported in the third quarter that Barney Cotton told his lineman that they were watching the young quarterback grow up...and grow up he did, with some big boy throws that showed poise and touch, especially on a key pass to Mike McNeill that showed confidence in his receiver.  Dare Taylor Martinez to throw?  OK, fine.  Pick your poison. 

Last week, the Husker receivers had the dropsies. Today, they were solid, starting with Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie. Paul answered his critics with eight catches for 123 yards, plus a 101 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Some people ask why Paul is sent out there to return punts; today we learned why. He sometimes suffers from a lack of focus and makes critical mistakes. But then he turns around makes amends with a huge play that explains why he's out there. Playing Paul is a high risk/high reward proposition, and today illustrated the reward.

I was surprised to realize that Brandon Kinnie's three touchdowns today were his first as a Husker. He's become such a clutch receiver, I could have sworn that he had cracked the goal line already. Nice to see how Martinez spread the field with the tight ends and even Tyler Legate catching a pass tonight.

All in all, a solid second half performance. The 541 yards the Blackshirts gave up will hurt the Huskers statistically, but their performance in the second half gives me optimism that the defense is still ok. I see that the doofus who runs the fake Martinez Twitter account thinks that he's back in the Heisman race; he's not. But he is proving to be an up-and-coming dual threat quarterback who very well could work his way into Heisman consideration in 2011 or 2012.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mavs Win at Michigan

Well, UNO hockey just keeps on rolling with a 4-2 victory over previously third-ranked Michigan; it's UNO's first ever-victory at Yost in the regular season. Last weekend, it was the Maverick upperclassmen leading the charge, but tonight, it was the newcomers.  Freshmen Ryan Walters, Brock Montpetit, and Matt White combined with sophomore Terry Broadhurst on UNO's goals.  UNO was cruising until late in the third period when the Weasels scored twice in the span of under a minute to pull to 4-2 with five minutes left in the game. But UNO killed off two power plays down the stretch to seal the victory.

At 5-0, UNO now owns the best record in college hockey. The only other team in college hockey that is undefeated and untied is #1 Boston College at 3-0.  And it's not like UNO got to 5-0 with a weak schedule; they've defeated RIT (Frozen Four last season), Minnesota (twice), and Michigan.  Their "weakest" victory is against Clarkson, who now sports a winning record.

Simply an unbelievable start for Maverick hockey this season.  Going into this season, UNO fans probably would have been happy to be a .500 team at the end of October considering the schedule. Now, who knows what the upper limit is.

Remember the promise of what was going to happen when UNO hired Dean Blais?

It's happening, folks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 BlogPoll: Week 7 Ballot


After this weekend, there's no longer a question about whether Nebraska should be ahead of Boise State or TCU.  They shouldn't be...and down they go, out of the Top Ten. I'm slotting the Big Red at #13 now. Oklahoma makes the jump over TCU and Boise; they just look like a national contender. Auburn could be a candidate, but that 65-43 score looks like something out of the old WAC. Ohio State drops to eighth; if I have to choose between one loss teams, my vote goes to Stanford.  LSU's struggle with McNeese State is asking for a demotion, but I'll hold them for lack of alternatives.

Texas jumps back into consideration at #16. Like I said, I think Nebraska's still a better team, but Texas outplayed the Huskers this weekend. Southern Cal reenters the Top 25 as well after laying waste to Cal this weekend. Mississippi State gets rewarded for winning at the Swamp...though that's becoming a bit more common this season. And I really struggled to find a 25th team this week to round out the ballot, before finally coming up with Kansas State. Their loss to Nebraska was really ugly, but they bounced back nicely against Kansas on the road.

Big XII PowerPoll

So what does this mean for the PowerPoll? Not as much of a shakeup as you might think.
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Nebraska
  3. Texas
  4. Missouri
  5. Oklahoma State
  6. Kansas State
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Baylor
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Colorado
  11. Iowa State
  12. Kansas

Baylor leapfrogs to eighth, mainly because I don't think much of the Bill Callahan of the Big XII South, Mike Sherman. Iowa State's death march finishes up with a road trip to Texas this week. Kansas is, well, just plain bad.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Night Dessert: Mavs Sweep Minnesota

One of the pleasant surprises of the weekend was listening to UNO sweep Minnesota in hockey up in Minneapolis. Winning two games at Mariucci in a weekend is kind of like winning back-to-back games at Duke and North Carolina in basketball.  Just doesn't happen very often...let alone in your first try. It's early this season, so you can read too much into this.  Minnesota could simply not be what they used to be in hockey. But starting out the season with four points on the road is nothing to sneeze at.  When the college hockey polls come out tomorrow, don't be surprised if UNO is a top ten team.

Next up for the Mavs is a road trip to their old haunt:  the third ranked Michigan Wolverines. Dean Blais wanted to get one trip to Yost, so it's back to the CCHA for a weekend. If UNO can pull off at least a split in Ann Arbor, the Mavs will be positioning themselves very well this season.

It's a fact of college sporting life that this hot start is likely to go relatively unnoticed outside the core hockey fan base. Many of my fellow Maverick fans will disagree with this, but it's still football season, and the average sports fan is still thinking football. I looked around last night, and most of the Minnesota Gopher blogs were talking about the firing of Tim Brewster, not the sweep. It's not an Omaha or Husker's just the mindset  of the average sports fan.  Once football season is over, fans will start paying more attention to hockey.

If UNO continues to play this hot, Trev Alberts better put his arena plans on hold for a few months. You don't want to announce a new building then find out that you've already outgrown it before construction even begins. Omaha loves a winner, and Dean Blais seems to be making it happen.

Looking back at yesterday's Texas game, I'm not as depressed today as I thought I would be. Truth be told, the more I look at the game, the more I realize that Nebraska beat Nebraska more than Texas did. Sure, Texas squashed the Husker rushing attack, but left the door wide open for Nebraska to score at-will through the air. Except that the Husker receivers couldn't catch a cold yesterday, dropping pass after pass.  Ted Gilmore says that Nebraska dropped five touchdown passes yesterday; you think that would have made a difference in the final outcome?

One thing did bother me is that Bo Pelini used to be able to give us a warning that the Huskers weren't going to play well.  When Nebraska didn't practice well, he'd say it...and then almost always, Nebraska didn't play well in the ensuing game. I didn't hear that warning this week, nor prior to South Dakota State. Maybe Bo was surprised by it..or he's realized there's no point in disclosing how the team practiced.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let Down Around The World

After all the expectations, after all the hype, all of the anticipation, today's "Red Out Around the World" turned out to be another bitter pill for Husker fans to swallow.  Texas jumped out to an early 10-0 lead thanks to a special teams breakdown and a fumble early on, which proved to be a deficit that Nebraska could not overcome.

Today's game, in a nutshell, came down to Will Muschamp daring Nebraska to pass, and the Huskers simply being unable to take advantage. Texas loaded up nine men in the box, and shut down the Husker rushing attack. Nebraska moved the ball a little bit in the second quarter, but never could find the end zone offensively.

For that, the blame falls squarely on the receivers and Taylor Martinez. Martinez started off by throwing behind a wide open Niles Paul, who tried to reach back and make a spectacular catch, in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Martinez overthrew Rex Burkhead who could have walked into the end zone if he could have caught the ball. But the dropsies were all over the receivers. Paul had more drops, and Brandon Kinnie dropped a nearly perfectly thrown pass at the five yard line on fourth down late in the game.

It sounds simplistic, but if the Huskers could have made a couple of these plays, the game would have immediately changed. Success in the passing game would have forced Muschamp to play the Huskers more straight-up, and that would have opened up the running game a bit.

Taylor Martinez finished the game on the bench, as Nebraska turned to Zac Lee who was far more effective leading the Husker offense tonight. I felt we might see Lee at some point this season, and frankly, I consider Lee to be Nebraska's #2 quarterback at this point.  Bo Pelini and Shawn Watson might prefer to use Cody Green if the Huskers are ahead, but when the chips are down, they'll go to the veteran, especially if they think they'll need to throw the ball.  Truth be told, Lee ran the ball ok at times (certainly better than Martinez tonight), and if he had any support from his receivers, probably could have gotten the Huskers back into the game tonight.

Judging from the few replays I saw on the HuskerVision boards tonight and the general buzz afterwards, the officials added to the Huskers' problems with blown calls and questionable spots of the ball. That's not what beat Nebraska this afternoon; Texas played better than Nebraska straight up when it came down to it.

Hard to believe that Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert would turn out being the better running quarterback today, but that's why they play the games. The Blackshirts locked down on Texas when they tried to throw the ball, but blown tackles in the secondary by Rickey Thenarse led to several big plays including Fozzy Whittaker's 41 yard reception.

Husker fans did get a glimmer of hope when Eric Hagg returned a Texas pooch punt out of field goal formation 95 yards for a touchdown to pull within one score. Great call by Pelini to send Hagg deep to return the punt, but it was a bad call to go for the onside kick with three minutes left in the game. At that point, the Longhorns were in full turtle mode trying to run out the clock, and by kicking deep, the Huskers likely could have still forced a punt.  Instead, Texas easily fields the kick, and then Nebraska had to try to force a fumble in the closing minutes.

Oh, and you can't forget about the penalties. Ten of them, to be exact, and sometimes at the worst possible moment.  Ugly, ugly, ugly performance.

No time to sulk about this one. Top 20 foes are up the next two weeks with Missouri and Oklahoma State. Texas showed teams how to defend Nebraska, so it'll be on Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore to get the offense back in sync. The Blackshirts didn't play a great game, but holding the Longhorns to 272 yards isn't bad either.

In 2007, Nebraska went into a game against Southern Cal thinking they could make a statement and win...and lost badly. From there, the season spiraled out of control. I don't think 2010 parallels 2007 at all, but if Nebraska doesn't bounce back strong next weekend, people will start drawing parallels.

Husker Mike's PostGame Texas Podcast

Outplayed, outcoached...


It's not about the decision of a referee.

It's about the margin of error last December.  One second.  One kickoff.  One catch.  One penalty.  One play.  Take care of that, and the clock isn't an issue.

Unfinished Business.

That was last year.  Now it's time.


Beat Texas.

Friday, October 15, 2010

UNO Defeats Minnesota 5-4 in Inaugural WCHA Game

The UNO Mavericks hockey squad won their first WCHA game 5-4 tonight in Minneapolis, defeating Minnesota at Mariucci Arena. Heck of a way to get started by winning in one of the most difficult barns in college hockey. Not that this place was unfamiliar to some of the Mavs; head coach Dean Blais won here as head coach of North Dakota, while assistants Mike Guentzel and Mike Hastings are former Gopher assistants. Several players are from Minnesota, and playing hockey at Mariucci is somewhat akin to a Nebraska native finally getting to play in Memorial Stadium.

The Mavs stunned the crowd by taking a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. Rich Purslow, Alex Hudson, and Matt White scored the goals. The lead widened to 4-0 on a Matt Ambrosz goal before Michael Young got hit with another five minute major penalty, his second of the season, late in the second period. The Gophers scored twice (once on a 5-on-3 power play) in the closing minutes of the second.  Minnesota tied the game with a goal by captain Jay Barriball with just over three minutes left in the third period.  Alex Hudson then buried the game winner with 1:36 remaining in the game.  Things got chippy at the end, with Barriball starting a scrum after the game was over.

Great start for the Mavs, though losing a four goal lead is concerning. Tomorrow night's game could be tough; the Gophers should be a wee bit on edge after losing at home. Nevertheless, opening conference play with a win on the road at one of the league powers is a heck of a way to get started.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Night Beer: Starting to Think About the Bovines

This Saturday's matchup of the Huskers and Texas is one I'm not sure quite what to expect.  The Texas offense hasn't been very good this season (to be quite honest), and now they have to face one of the best defenses in the country. But by that same token, while Nebraska's offense has been outstanding almost all season, they haven't played a defense even remotely comparable to the one Texas will bring to Lincoln. So expecting to see Taylor Martinez run wild once again on Saturday is just a pipe dream.  I think this one comes down to which team makes fewer mistakes.  One reason I'm a little concerned is that Texas has had two weeks to try and regroup; if they lose three games in a row, all heck could break loose down there.  And wouldn't that be a shame?

Seriously, I expect a low scoring game on Saturday. I think Texas will play better understanding what's at stake, but I still expect a Husker victory.

One ominous sign for this week's game was when I received the Tom Osborne e-mail asking for "respectful behavior" from fans. Last time I remember getting an e-mail like that from the athletic director, it was in 2007 and the opponent was Southern Cal...and we know how well that went.

Kind of shocked to see Kansas State absolutely destroy Kansas tonight. Kansas State could not have been happy with last week's game, and they sure took it out on the Jayhawks. I just hope whoever the next athletic director at Kansas is, that they'll give Turner Gill enough time to prove himself. The lack of talent at Kansas is not his fault.

First up this weekend is the Mavericks first WCHA game...and it's against Minnesota. I have no idea how the Mavs will match up against the Gophers, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. Just wish we could see it here.  FSN will be broadcasting the game in Minnesota, but not here for some reason. Instead, they're showing a replay of a boxing match from last month.  A big 'ol WTF to FSN for this one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 Blogpoll Week 7

One week after suggesting that Alabama should be an undisputed #1, they cough up a hairball on the road. Everybody has those offweeks. Nebraska had one two weeks ago against South Dakota State. Oregon seemed to have one against Washington State this week. Alabama made the mistake of doing it against a pretty good top 20 team. So while I'm dropping them, I can't drop them too far. I still think they are better than Boise or they end up at #3. I know Brian Cook of the BlogPoll is going to rip me for this, but if Boise or TCU were to play 'Bama, who would be favored to win? I'm pretty sure the answer is I really can't drop 'Bama any further than #3.

Nebraska drops one spot despite blowing out Kansas State. It's not so much anything against Nebraska as much as Oklahoma's blowout win over Florida State looks even better after the Seminoles blew out Miami on the road. I still don't know that Nebraska has played much of anybody yet; that's something that changes the next three weeks.

South Carolina bounces back up in the poll as a reward for upsetting 'Bama. Arkansas drops for general suckiness against Texas A&M; if that proves to be their hairball game, they'll bounce back eventually. LSU jumps up for winning at the Swamp; Les Miles lives to fight another week.  I didn't realize that I bumped up Oklahoma State five points this week, but I didn't see anybody to keep ahead of the Cowboys at this point. And I'm keeping Virginia Tech in my poll because I still think they're a top 25 team; they just had a bad hairball.  If I didn't think the Hokies were top 25, I don't see how I could keep Boise State in the top five.

Big XII PowerPoll
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Nebraska
  3. Missouri
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Texas
  6. Kansas State
  7. Texas A&M
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Baylor
  10. Iowa State
  11. Colorado
  12. Kansas
Not sure A&M is really the 7th best, but they did hang on with Arkansas despite a poor performance from Jerrod Johnson. Maybe Bill Byrne should get the Aggies on NCAA probation so that they aren't eligible for television? I'd like to give Iowa State more credit for beating Tech last week, but giving up 68 points to Utah makes that impossible. I'd still rather be an Iowa State fan than a Colorado fan.