Originally Published: Dec 5, 2010 1:49 AM CDT
About an hour after the game I saw Bo Pelini walking across the field and went to say hello. I know him reasonably well and have always found him to be a standup guy. He was very courteous but very disappointed.
What do you say to a guy who just lost such a huge game to a longtime friend in a game he led 17-0 but could only muster 80 total yards of offense in the second half? How about this: “Bo, sorry you didn’t have a better offense.” One of the more awkward questions that has come out of these busy lips. He knew exactly what I meant and said it was “not good at all and we were lucky we didn’t get blown out” playing as poorly on offense as his team did. We talked a little longer and he was off to what had to be a quiet busload of Huskers. I wished him good luck in the Big 10 and saw a guy walk away who will probably be at Nebraska for many years and win some Big 10 championships. I hope so. For him and for the high quality program NU has had for so many decades.
How much did your offense get dominated when you hold the other team to 1 of 16 on third down conversions? That’s what OU was after just the opposite last weekend in Stillwater (16 of 27).
On the way to the car I ran into Bob Stoops near the team buses. His voice was all but gone. I’ve seen him with various degrees of happiness throughout the years. From our brief visit it was obvious that this one is one of the sweetest of the seven Big 12 titles. As it should be.
A big play that might have been had Nebraska gotten off the snap: Fourth and four with 7:31 in the game, OU up by three. Pelini calls a fake field goal but Stoops gets a time out right before the snap. Pelini was hot. NU ended up punting. Regardless the way the play would have ended, it could have been huge. Stoops alertly called time out because he saw NU in a new formation and then saw a man come in motion.
DeMarco Murray told me he was tired and hurting so much in the fourth quarter that he thought about coming out, but knew that under the circumstances that that was not going to happen. He was Mr. Reliable. Not flashy, but reliable. His mere presence on the field and in the huddle was essential when this young team fell behind 17-0.
I foolishly typed out GAME OVER when Nebraska scored to make it 17-0. Another foolish chat line from this keyboard came from me when I said Nebraska is taking Broyles out of the game and some other guys are going to have to come through. The next play Jones hits Broyles down the sideline for 45.
Steven Good may need to change his name after tonight. Rough one. But the team won and I’m sure he’ll get better. The OL did a nice job of protecting Jones for the most part.
Alex Henry was the best player I saw on the field tonight. NU kicker just awesome punting and kicking. The three trips inside the redzone up until the game was tied at 20 were killing OU. Huge night Price Macon. Kept thinking NU pull QB Martinez but Bo stuck with him.
After three, OU held a total yardage advantage of 377 to 249, but the red zone failures were the problem. Ended up with OU gaining 454 and NU only 293.
NU was worried coming in that officiating might hurt them after what happened to them at A/M. It’s safe to say they got their share of the calls. At least their share of the calls.
When OU took the lead on another one of the six yard field goals to make it 23-20, they had a 441-275 total yardage advantage. But how about these numbers. OU was an anemic 4/14 on third downs. NU was 1/14. Yes, OU had held them to one of fourteen on third downs with 8:28 to go in the game.
Thoughts at half: wild game. I thought it was over when OU was down 17-0 and looking like it had no chance on offense. But they rallied to score 17 unanswered before giving up the 42 yd NU FG to fabulous kicker Alex Henry. That made it 20-17 Nebraska but the OU fans sounded like OU was winning when the team left the field.
More halftime: Bob Stoops gambled and lost when he called a time out after OU had stopped Martinez for a loss of two on first down at the 18 with a little more than a minute left in the half. NU’s field goal took some of the momentum away from the Sooners and put them in a three-point halftime hole. Stoops wanted to push the envelope and try to get the ball back and go score again. But his DE or safety busted and RB Burkhead got out the gate for 25. If OU loses by three or less, he will be the goat. But at the time I liked the call. It reminded me of the old Stoops. Gambler. Go get it mentality.
It could’ve been a lot worse than 17-0 as Ryan Broyles fumbled two punts that OU recovered and the Sooners recovered one other ball they put on the ground. NU got a big break on what must have been a good call on the replay reversal when Jones was picked and it was initially called that Broyles had stripped the ball and gotten it back. But it was a seven point play as NU got the call and scored a TD.
OU also gave up four points when they had it first and five from the twelve. The settled for a field goal making it 17-10 and not pulling it to a three point game.
Biggest play of the game was the pick by Travis Lewis. NU was looking to go up 24-7 when he picked it off in the end zone.
OU’s lack of confidence (or simply being incapable of making a FG beyond 40 yards) cost them. They went for it on 4th and 5 from the 33. They decided to go for it instead of attempting what would have been a 50 yard field goal. Not good. Meantime, NU made two long field goals that would have been good from 65. No kidding. Henry is one of the best I’ve ever seen; definitely best in the conference and perhaps the nation and getting royally messed around by not even getting on the Groza list.
Lots of OU fans will want a rematch with Stanford in the Fiesta. I know some who’d rather play UConn and have a great chance to finish 12-2 and head into the offseason with lots of positive momentum. Not that they couldn’t beat Stanford. Just that winning a BCS game is very important to this program right now.