Friday, November 28, 2014

Nebraska Guts Out a Black Friday Victory Over Iowa

It looked ugly at times. It look downright absurd at other times. But somehow, in some way, Nebraska found a way to beat Iowa 37-31 in overtime.  Is it a case where Iowa sucks more than Nebraska?  You could certainly make that case. Is this a case where Nebraska's character persevered?  You could certainly say that as well.

Bottom line is that both sides of the "Bo Should Stay"/"Bo Should Go" debate found evidence to support their case. Nebraska got nine wins, and that's a decent season.  There is no quit in a Bo Pelini team.  Even though many people probably gave up when Iowa went up 24-7 on the punt into the butt.

Not me. I could see the defense was playing better, and Iowa almost certainly had another turnover in them. (What, you guys didn't think Bo Pelini could make an adjustment?) And sure enough, Ameer Abdullah sparked an offensive comeback.

Only to have the field goal blocked and Andy Janovich inexplicably stand there and not attempt to advance the ball. Would he have scored? Probably not. But he should have tried, and why he didn't is one of those mental mistakes that makes Husker fans pull their head out.

But since Iowa wasn't doing anything on offense anymore, you knew Nebraska would get the ball back, and the next time, Tommy Armstrong found Taariq Allen in the back of the endzone. Armstrong's stats weren't great on the day, but he certainly improvised when he had to.  And he had to because Nebraska was playing two third-teamers on the offensive line. Paul Thurston and Matt Finnin were thrown into the fire, and while they weren't terribly effective, Nebraska still managed to move the ball.

Another Iowa three-and-out, and then De'Mornay Pierson-El redeemed himself from last week's errors.  First a 41 yard punt return to set up a deep pass to Kenny Bell to cut Iowa's lead to 24-21. That throw was your typical Tommy Armstrong pass thrown into coverage, but Bell somehow made the catch.  Then Pierson-El went 80 to put the Huskers in the lead somehow.

Iowa wasn't done, and chewed clock to regain the lead with under two minutes to go.  Only to have Armstrong lead the team down the field again to allow Nebraska to send the game into overtime.

And frankly, wasn't it awesome to have Kenny Bell make two catches in overtime to get the Huskers the win. Bell had his senior day cut short with a concussion, but played huge today.  And in so doing, cooled down a bit of the "Bo Pelini is going to be fired rhetoric" that has been growing since the Wisconsin debacle. Not that a win over Iowa necessarily is anything that should save a guy's job, but rather that by not losing to Iowa, the detractors have one less reason to call for a coaching change.

This isn't to say that changes aren't needed in Lincoln; I do believe that something needs to change. But I want Bo Pelini making the changes, not Shawn Eichorst.  I still "Bo-lieve", even if many people don't.  I'm sorry, but nine wins a season is a pretty good thing.  No other program (except one in the south and one on the west coast) has done it over the last seven years, and that counts for something.

But the four losses are a problem.  Even worse are losses like the one at Wisconsin.   I think Bo Pelini knows better than anybody else where those games broke down, and is now able to start addressing those issues now that the regular season is over.  I expect that there will be assistant coaches looking for new jobs, though we may not realize it immediately.  Bo isn't going to fire somebody to save his job (he said so himself), and he isn't going to fire people  to hand fans a scapegoat.  He will, however, work with his departing assistants to find them their next assignment.  He's loyal to his assistants, and he's done it before in jettisoning Shawn Watson, Ted Gilmore, and Corey Raymond.   By spring practice, there will be new faces on this coaching staff.

It's been a rough season and disappointing in they eyes of Husker fans.  We should remember that experts like Phil Steele picked them to finish 4th in the Big Ten west, and whether we like it or not, third is better than fourth.  And if Nebraska manages to get a favorable bowl bid, a ten win season is still possible.  That's not all bad.

Not at all.


jeff725 said...

On the fan side of things, it's gone from bad to worse. If you read the comments section in the OWH and the message board on, Husker Nation is in a state of all-out civil war. Wheres' Bill Cosby's wife when you need her? (his current legal troubles notwithstanding)

Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree that Bo may be down but not out, and I agree that assistants need to change. If they don't change. It won't be easy for some due to their long history with the program, not to mention family ties, but I can think of at least one of those that could move on and then some. I hope Bo continues to improve on his sideline demeanor as well. There's been progress for sure, but room for improvement. A real QB coach would go a long way being QB play is critical to success IMO.