In order for Nebraska to have a shot at beating the no. 4 Oklahoma Sooners they probably would have had tobe perfect.
Joe Ganz threw an interception to open the first drive for the Huskers, which was taken back for a touchdown. Ganz threw another one which led to an Oklahoma score. Then sophomore tight end Dreu Young fumbled the ball away, Oklahoma taking over and once again, the Sooners went in for the TD.
Oh, and all of that happened in the first quarter.
It amounted to be one of the most one-sided quarters in Husker-history, reminiscent of the 2001 beat down in Boulder when the top five Huskers were shelled by Colorado, 63-36, 28 of those points for Colorado coming in the first quarter, the Buffs going into the halftime intermission up, 42-23.
In hindsight that game was probably pretty by comparison.
"We did not respond well as a team to some of the adversity that we had and we had some busts on defense,” Head Coach Bo Pelini said after the game. “We were not on the same page for whatever reason. Whether we got big eyes when things did not go our way or didn’t respond as well as I would have liked.
“We didn’t make a play when the momentum was going against us and you have to make a play."
In what might one day be called the half that Murphy's Law created, the Huskers did every single thing badly that they needed to do well, and that was to even have a chance at the top five Sooners.
A jovial Bo Pelini before the game, as he stood on the sideline talking to long-time friend and fellow Youngstown, Ohio native, Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, was quickly replaced by perhaps the most emotional Pelini we have seen this year.
Not the good emotion either.
That's saying something.
But what can you say?
Nebraska with three turnovers, Oklahoma with 49 points, 14 of those taking a total of four seconds, the first compliments of OU running back Chris Brown scampering into the end zone on the right side, fishing off a 7-play, 53-yard drive. The second was an interception by cornerback Dominique Franks, who took the bread n' butter screen pass from Joe Ganz, intended for senior wide receiver Nathan Swift, back 20 yards for the score.
You already knew it wasn't Nebraska's day.
But for a team which didn't need a single break to beat Nebraska on their own home field, a place they haven't lost in 23 games, they got just that. One of the the plays which seemed to illustrate a half of Husker frustration, senior Oklahoma punter Mike Knall, for his only punt of the first half for the Sooners, actually fumbled the snap, turned around to pick it up, ran a little to his left and with two Huskers in his face, basically executed a Rugby kick which went 50 yards, down to the Nebraska 21.
It didn't get any better in the second half, a half where Nebraska all but done, down 56-21, actually got an interception off OU quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford, up to that point had been close to flawless, completing 18 of his 26 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns. This was another guy who didn't need any help. He was getting plenty already from the Nebraska defensive line, which put absolutely no pressure on the sophomore QB the entire game. But just when the Huskers make a play, that being a deflected ball in the end zone by senior cornerback Armando Murillo, junior safety Rickey Thenarse getting the pick – on the very first play from scrimmage, sophomore running back Quentin Castille fumbled the Ganz hand off and Oklahoma recovered.
And for the fourth time Oklahoma capitalized, taking a Husker turnover and turning it into points, Bradford getting his fifth touchdown pass, Oklahoma going up 62-21 before the end of the third quarter. "That was a poorly coached defense out there and I am at the head of that,” Pelini said.
All this makes you scratch your head, thinking about the momentum which Nebraska had starting with the narrow overtime loss to top 10 Texas Tech, and seemed to carry through the win this last weekend over Baylor, a team which took the top 15 Missouri Tigers to the wall today, losing 31-28.
But maybe when Bo wasn't exactly chipper after Thursday's practice, we had an inkling of bad things to come. After all, in most of the Husker victories, the first-year head coach has been relatively mild in his demeanor, but certainly approaching almost happy the last three games, the one the Huskers lost against a top 10 team.
Not this last weekend though. The head coach already said on Wednesday that he was in “one of his moods” earlier in the week and Thursday about the best description he could come up with was “not bad.”
Not exactly confidence inspiring as Nebraska gets ready to take on the toughest opponent of the year.
But it was fairly prophetic, as Pelini himself has admitted that what he sees in practice has translated fairly accurately to the game that following weekend.
However, I don't know that he quite expected this.
To this head coaches' credit, though, what he has gotten out of his teams seems to be a willingness to play when last year's team seems like it was already mentally on the bus home. It's a team that seems to, even when the game is out of reach, still looks like it thinks it has a shot. In a game like this, that might be as insane as it is impressive, but for a first-year coach, who has years ahead of him in trying to get to where Oklahoma is at now, for an obviously outmatched team to keep plugging away in the end isn't such a bad thing after all. "I have a good feeling that this team will bounce back. One thing that I can say is that ‘this is not a football team that points fingers’ and we are not a team that is divisive,”Pelini said. “This a team that is going to hang in thick and thin. We are going to keep working. I do appreciate the way they didn’t quit but I would not expect anything less from these guys."
But it wasn't all bad for the big red:
Sophomore running back Roy Helu Jr. had a good day, averaging almost 10 yards per carry as he injected a little life into the lifeless Husker running attack, Helu with 157 yards and a score.
After a pretty disappointing year which has seen Nebraska plummet in regard to national ranking in punting, senior punter Dan Titchener got a lot of work against Oklahoma, but performed exceptionally well, averaging 46.8 per punt.
Sophomore quarterback Patrick Witt, coming in for Ganz, who was 14-of-26 for 206 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, went 2-for-2 in mop up duty, but his highlight actually came on a zone read to the left side where he, not categorized as a mobile QB, dove into the end zone on the other end of a 16-yard jaunt, as he helped put the final points on the board, Nebraska ultimately losing to the Sooners, 62-28.
Oh, and good news for Oklahoma: “Boomer” and “Sooner”, the Shetland ponies which tow around the Sooner Schooner every time after a score, didn't die from exhaustion.
Oh yeah, as to how it could have been worse for Nebraska, it's simple:
OK, let me get back to you on that one