As Tommy Armstrong scored with 2 and a half minutes to go, the Anderson house went nuts. Even then, with my heart about to explode, I said that regardless of the outcome, the objective for this season remained in tact. Its true. Beating Oregon is not the ultimate goal. Then we did it. I was ridiculously overjoyed.I couldn’t get my head around why. The Oregon Ducks are not the same squad that went to the National Title game 2 years ago. Nor are they a conference foe. The outcome of this game has no bearing on NU’s final goal for 2016.  So why am I jumping around acting like a maniac? Its a great question. To be sure, this victory feels much greater than it looks on paper. This team fought its ass off Saturday afternoon. That grit is a far cry from a year ago. It was far from a flawless effort. In fact there are still a lot of areas to clean up. But this win represents a change for this program. This isn’t a team that is going to piss away every game like it did a year ago.  This team is tougher, more focused. The goals remain clear, a Big 10 West title. But after that dog fight Saturday, I feel much better about the makeup of this squad going forward.

The Husker offense was all over the map Saturday. Early on, this unit struggled to get any traction on the ground against a speedy Oregon defense. It was through the air that NU made its bones. Tommy Armstrong hit Jordan Westercamp twice in the first half for scores. After halftime it was a different story. The boys up front began to assert their will on the Ducks. Devine Ozigbo and company plowed ahead for 2 consecutive TDs to start the half. It was absolutely gorgeous. Its a shame that Terrell Newby left the game early with an injury. He looked terrific in the first half and I thought he was well on his way to his best game as a Husker. Last week I was pretty hard on Tommy Armstrong. Despite his considerable numbers, I pounded him for his inaccuracy and decision making. Saturday Tom was an absolute stud. He was a god damn baller.  He threw for 200 yards, ran for 96 more including the game winning score with 2:30 to go. Despite some apparent cramping, Armstrong showed his true mettle. His toughness and leadership were on display for everyone to see. He was a big time player and torch bearer for this offense. Best of all, Armstrong never made the big mistake. He was responsible for a turnover late in the first half, but I chalk that up to an asinine call by Danny Langsdorf. On this day, the offense was pretty good. Not perfect, to be sure, but productive enough to earn a win against a quality opponent.

The Nebraska defense had its hands full against the Ducks. It became clear very early that Oregon was substantially more athletic than the Huskers. Oregon ran for 327 yards, an average of 7 yards per attempt. The zone read game with Prukop and whichever back they threw out there was particularly troublesome for the Blackshirts. If I’m an Oregon fan, I’m pissed they didn’t use it more. It appeared the NU defense never really got its arms around it. 3rd downs were a big problem for the defense. 2 of Oregon’s TDs came on 3rd down, there was a 3rd and 26 debacle and the Ducks were consistently able to sustain drives on 3rd down. NU threw a wide variety of looks at Prukop and the Oregon offense. They often used the 3 down lineman nickel look they have unveiled thus far this season. Sometimes it worked, producing pressure and thwarting Duck drives. Other times Prukop picked apart the package. The Husker’s had their hands full with the myriad of weapons the Duck’s posses. There were times this unit got absolutely gashed. The 10 play 97 yard drive comes to mind. This was not a pretty victory for the defense. They certainly took their lumps. Regardless, this unit saved the game, twice. Trailing 28-32 halfway through the 4th quarter a Duck TD would have spelled doom. They responded with a 3 and out. After the game winning TD run by Armstrong there was still 2:32 on the clock, and a 3 point lead. That’s plenty of time for the Ducks. But this unit stepped up once more. That should not be overlooked. For all their struggles Saturday, the Husker defense stepped up and salted this one away. That fact commands respect.

This game is extra meaningful for Mike Riley. A win like this, against his old nemesis, has to carry a special feeling. It won’t hurt that his team played pretty well. Riley made some decisions that were a bit out of character. In the first half NU went for it in Oregon territory on a 4th and long. They were unsuccessful. Then, with 3 minutes to play, and 3 timeouts, he went for it on 4th and 8 just on NU’s side of the field. This time Armstrong hit Westercamp for a 14 yard gain and the Huskers scored the game’s winning score. That took some serious onions. Coach Riley deserves a lot of credit for making that difficult decision. If NU punts the ball there, perhaps they don’t get the ball back. Unfortunately, the coaching wasn’t all good. On a drive toward the end of the first half NU was rolling. The running game was just getting traction and Tommy Armstrong was sharp. Danny Langsdorf called this ridiculous backward pass that resulted in a turnover, good field position, and ultimately a TD for Oregon. Can someone tell me what the point of that was? Langsdorf needs to learn not to overthink things. When something is working, there is no need for trickery. Pound the ball, get points and move on. Choices like that cost you points and games. Langsdorf had better understand what a perilous spot he put this team in.

This is a great win for this program. This was a hell of a test for the Huskers. A win like this changes things. Oregon has been tremendously successful over the last decade or so. They have become a standard on the west coast. Is this team as good as those in the past?  I highly doubt it. Still, this is a terrific win for this program under Mike Riley. It also cements my opinion that NU is a pretty good team this year. However, good teams don’t stub their toe at Northwestern next week, or at home to Illinois or Purdue. Good teams go into Bloomington and pillage the damn place. The Huskers should win each of their next 4 games against the bottom of this conference. I expect it, and so should you. That would put NU 7-0 and headed toward a date with Wisconsin Halloween weekend. Camp Randall, Saturday night, with all the students dressed in their Donald Trump costumes. That place is something of a house of horrors for the Huskers. But at this point, this squad appears set to break out from the horrors of years past. That is why a win like this feels greater than it is on paper. It represents progress and change going forward. I couldn’t be happier.

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5 thoughts on “It Feels Like More

  1. Do you ever consider that you take this WAY TO SERIOUS there Nephew? It was all well and good and they played solid Football for the majority of the game, but no I cannot explain “you jumping around acting like a maniac”. Frankly you shouldn’t be that surprised. Last years team may have “Pissed away games last year” as you said but they showed grit and no quit in every game last year. This team is better than last years only in that Riley’s coaching and game preparation is better also. He prepared for this game since spring practice, using the first two games this year in preparation for this stretch. Indulge a veteran for a second please. What game do you think was the turning point last year? I’m willing to guess you would probably say Michigan State but actually it was the lose at Purdue the week before. They were down big due to Fyfe’s continues turnovers, but they never quit playing and even though they lost by 10 they never stopped playing. The next week they beat Michigan State, and went 3-1 the rest of the year. That grit that you stated they lacked last year was there, and where it was most evident was in a game they lost.

    Now as far as the “asinine call” by Langsdorf, well I am not going to validate or try to say he shouldn’t of called that play. It’s easy to blame play calls on the person who does that, but what you should do is try to figure out why the play didn’t work. In that specific play there were 4 things that went wrong. First off #88 completely missed his block on #92 of Oregon. Secondly # 73 didn’t hold his block on #50. Third and fourth, #4 hurried his throw, and threw it way to high to #21 and threw it backwards also which he was not supposed to do. So yes it was the players fault for the turnover. No one on the left side did anything right except the 2 wide outs who blocked down field. It’s the players responsibility to execute the play, and #4 just compounded everything by hurrying and just plain not executing the play. They ran the same play twice in the 2nd half but both times too the right. The first time #4 threw another bad pass (which was a forward pass). The second time was in the fourth on the ending drive when he pulled it down and ran with it which seemed one of the options of the play. Why do you run plays like that? It’s still an option offense. Most plays have options too them. When he say’s #4 need’s to make good decisions that’s what he’s talking about. Good example of a good decision was the 4th and 9 in the last drive. They ran a pass play that had built in options for both the quarterback and wide receiver’s. Both #4, and #1 made the right decision on the Duck defense on the biggest play of the game. An example of a bad decision was that play in the first half. The biggest play up till then had been the Pierson-El punt return at the end of the half which I had predicted weeks ago. Riley was saving him for when he needed him. Didn’t need him against Fresno or Wyoming, but knew he would for Oregon and others.

    Lastly your kidding me right? Northwestern and Indiana are not at the bottom of the conference. Indiana will get a better read on this week vs. Wake Forest, but in their first two games they looked good. They were way up on Ball State and let the score get away from them late, but were never in danger. Northwestern is going to be tough, but Indiana could very well be the first loss of the season. No one has gone into Bloomington and “pillaged” in a few years now. Wilson has built a solid program from scratch. Last year they played Ohio State to a touchdown, Michigan losing in overtime, Iowa losing by a touchdown all at Bloomington. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE INDIANA.

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    1. Uncle Rick your comments are a joy to read and respond to. Say what you want about my uncle, its probably all true, but the man knows his sports.
      First off that ridiculous call was poorly executed. There is no doubt. But why make that call? We were pounding the ball down Oregon’s throat and keeping them off balance with the pass. That defense was on skates. Then we bring WIlbon fresh off the bench and have TA make a throw he really sucks at making. Throughout his career Armstrong struggles with the throw to the flat. So why call it there? Just keep it simple stupid. I do like the fact that it was part of a package of plays that look the same but are vastly different. You saw a screen, QB draw, middle run and the previously mentioned disaster all as part of the package. I guess my big problem is the timing. It was the absolute wrong time to call that. I dont think that is debatable. Lets not make excuses for Langdorf. He is a big boy.

      Ill agree that Purdue was the turning point but I absolutely disagree that they did not quit. The defense that day was flat out lazy. In particular I remember that slug of a QB Blount with a long TD run with Gerry and Newby half heartedly chasing him. Purdue was the turning point because we got housed by a sorry ass Purdue team. Also after that week we got healthier on defense if I recall correctly. You are correct the stretch run was better. That Iowa loss still sticks in my craw.

      It is so good to see #15 in the open field. Watching him run warms my heart. I was beginning to worry that we had seen the last of good DPE. Perhaps the injuries had taken their toll. Nope, the dude still has it. We just have to draw it out of him

      Lastly, all due respect to the NW wildcats, they are at the bottom of the conference right now. A team that is 1-2 with losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State. I know those games were close but if we are stacking up Big 10 teams surely they, along with Illinois and Purdue are in the bottom 3rd. I dont think that is even debatable. Will NW give us all we can handle Saturday. Unfortunately, probably. But given the body of work at this time there is no way you can put them, or Illinois or Purdue, in the top 10 of this league. That is the definition of the bottom feeder. Also, I meant no disrespect for coach Wilson and the Hoosiers. He is doing a great job there. But good teams should still be able to go in there and take care of business. At this time, fingers crossed, I believe this is a good team.

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      1. Minus Northwestern I agree with everything you said. What you said about going into Bloomington and “pillage” is what I said was not going too happen. A good team just getting a win there will be just fine. NO ONE lately goes in there and PILLAGES, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa went in there last year and won. I do expect the Huskers to win, expecially with Indiana’s trouble with injures so far this year. (they have lost their star running back, and wide receiver, and starting middle linebacker all out for the year) bad for them good for us. I agree with you on why too call that play in the first place, but I learned long ago too just let that stuff go. You can hold on to it until it drives you over the wall it’s not going to change a thing.

        Northwestern was 10-3 last year. I’ve watched all 3 games of theirs. They should of won the first 2, but their offense has completely shit the bed. They have the defense, their playing at home. Can they outscore us? NO but if that defense can generate some turnovers and can control the field position they can keep it close and have the opportunity to win it with the right kind of breaks. Northwestern is not at the bottom of the big ten. Purdue, Illinois, Rutgers, and for right now Maryland, and Penn State, (I’m expecting big things from Maryland but not till next year or possibly late this year). Northwestern as long as Fitzgerald is there will be a solid middle to upper class of the Conference. Minnesota also is not a bottom feeder.

        I remember that play against Purdue. What you failed to remember was that the Defense was back on the field due to Fyfe throwing another interception. They didn’t quit they were just plain wore out. Remember last year we had a ton of injuries to the Defensive Backs early. The defense as a whole had a ton of injuries. The guy’s on the field were out there way too long without rest. No depth always spells out fatigue on defense. They didn’t quit on the play they were just wore out. And your right the next week against Michigan State we got healthy overnight on defense. There was more substitutions all game long and they made the stop’s late that game because they were just fresher. Same thing against Oregon. Big part of that late stop was the 5 minute drive the Husker’s had. They went back on the field a fresher defense.

        And yes only believe the bad stuff. They can say what they want, it’s never bothered me.

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