What would you
like to see
Nebraska football equivalent of Who Wants to
be a Millionaire
LUBBOCK, Texas Every week, it happens.
I never really realized it because I usually head to a road game only on game day. This
season, because of the travel involved (and driving being less costly than flying), I end
up in the opponents hometown the day before the game.
And thats where the mystery explains itself.
Ever wonder why Iowa State, Notre Dame and Texas Tech and others seem to
play out of their league against the Huskers?
Go to the opposing city before the game, and you will see, it is because this is more than
a red-letter game for whomever Nebraska is playing on a given week. For coaches who are on
the bubble as to whether theyll return to their current job and school, Nebraska is
the gridiron equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Had Notre Dame beaten Nebraska, Bob Davie would have been assured of a multi-year,
million-dollar-plus contract extension. Same for the coaches at Iowa and Iowa State
shoot, with the Cyclones, they might have made Dan McCarney governor had he upset the
It would be fair to say that Nebraska gets everyones best shot. And it would not be
inaccurate to say that Nebraska gets their opponents once-in-a-lifetime shot. That
was true this year against Missouri and Iowa State, just like it was in 1996 against
Arizona State, and in 1998 against Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.
And remember: This is a team that is practically devoid of superstars, though the Huskers
have had their share of playmakers.
I think one of the strengths of Nebraska over the years has been that every
players not great, but they dont really have any holes out there, said
Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. And they play well together and they play
But Nebraska knows how to play and win in big games. Nebraska is at its best
in overtime, where the confidence grows to such proportions that the other team is
demoralized the game clock might as well read game over instead of
signaling the extra period.
That was true against Colorado last year in which CU had all the momentum seemingly
after regulation, which featured a furious second-half comeback and it was true
this year at Notre Dame.
Emotion is only good for a finite amount of time each game, perhaps five minutes to start
off each half.
And this is why Nebraska is so good: It steals momentum. It doesnt merely
take momentum indeed, take is far too pleasant of a word for what the
Tech thought it was going to get on the scoreboard first, but Troy Watchorn did what
hed done the previous three games come up with an interception.
Then, when Dan Alexander reverts to his old form and coughs the ball up, Joe Walker goes
Watchorn one better, returning a pick for a touchdown and bringing a deadly silence over
the stadium, which only moments earlier had been shaking with emotion.
Thats what you do when a team thinks it has a breath of air: You stomp on their
throat. They show some heart, you take their soul away one play later.
This is what winners do. This is what you do when you are the most targeted team in the
Because THIS, is Nebraska.
(Bob Schaller covers Nebraska football for the Star-Herald)