Saturday, October 25, 2014


Game Day

When Tommie Frazier pickets

9/18/2013

FIRST DOWN

So they’re circling the wagons in Lincoln again. Circling, the Cornhuskers can do.

It’s tackling that’s the problem.

We kid, of course. Sort of. Nebraska football stories are starting to pull out the old “for the first time since 1961” line again, and which means two things: The Huskers are down, and the state’s collective blood pressure is up.

For the last four Septembers (ish), it feels as if we’ve been writing the same sort of Nebraska narrative: Coach Bo Pelini loses a non-conference game that the fan base thinks he shouldn’t have, teeth are gnashed, hands are wrung, and the world keeps on spinning.

DM Art Center

But this one feels different, somehow, deeper. Even the giants have off weekends, but when your off weekends out number the good ones, 2-to-1, well, Katie bar the door.

It isn’t just getting your nipples twisted by UCLA at Memorial Stadium that’s bringing out the torches and the villagers. It’s that Wyoming had the Big Red dead to rights, too, in their own backyard. The Huskers gave up 602 yards to the visiting Cowboys two weeks ago, then 500 more — and 38 unfathomably unanswered points — to the Bruins.

Wyoming? Oh, phew, you almost caught us looking ahead. But UCLA? Pelini had UCLA circled on his calendar for ages, stamped it as a “revenge” tilt after that crushing loss at the Rose Bowl last fall. And Nebraska still laid an egg the size of a strip mall, even after leading 21-3 in the first half.

It’s the patterns that getcha, and since December, defensive coordinator John Papuchis’ boys have given up at least 36 points to Wisconsin (70), Georgia (45), Wyoming (37) and, now, UCLA. The fabled Blackshirts used to be a point of immense pride and tradition. Now they’re a reminder the day Bruins quarterback Brent Hundley decided it might be fun to try out his best Matty Ice impression.

And to think: In their Big 12 days, the Huskers used to laugh at Baylor. All these years later, they’ve become them, more or less.

It’s gotten to the point where Tommie Frazier, a Lincoln legend, went to social media over the weekend and demanded the removal of Pelini’s entire defensive staff.

“I hate saying this but this crap is getting old,” the former Huskers quarterback posted via his Twitter account. “How in the hell do you not make adjustments or put your players in the position to compete? If this is what is going to happen for the remainder of the season, count me out… I have fought, bled, and cried over this program. I didn’t do all that for the program to become what it has today. Time for change!”

Restless natives are one thing. When Tommie Frazier is picketing out front, my friend, the circle of trust is becoming dangerously small. And getting smaller by the day.

 

THE BIG EIGHT

Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight.

TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT

1. Ohio State (3-0) / vs. Florida A&M

2. Oklahoma State (3-0) / at West Virginia, Sept. 28

3. Oklahoma (3-0) / at Notre Dame, Sept. 28

4. Baylor (2-0) / vs. La.-Monroe

5. Michigan (3-0) / at Connecticut

6. Wisconsin (2-1) / vs. Purdue

7. Northwestern (3-0) / vs. Maine

8. Texas Tech (3-0) / vs. Texas State

 

ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Two games in, and he’s 40-for-45 passing for 570 yards with six touchdowns and just one pick. And not a directional school in the bunch — the ’Noles have stomped Pitt and Nevada by a combined score of 103-20.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: The Vols weren’t going to let the Ducks’ trigger man run wild — so he threw for 456 yards and four scores instead.

3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: Nick Saban needed him to go throw-for-throw with Johnny Football. All the dude did was throw for a career-best 334 yards and four TDs in a huge 49-42 win at Texas A&M.

 

SET YOUR TIVO:

The games you won’t want to miss.

1. Clemson at North Carolina State, ESPN, 6:30 p.m., Thursday: Are you a (Tajh) Boyd Believer? The Tigers haven’t dropped back-to-back visits to Raleigh since 1986 and ’88.

2. Arizona State at Stanford, FOX, 6 p.m.: The Cardinals are legit, and the Sun Devils, under Todd Graham, are getting there. But you want to make sure you don’t miss watching the Pac-12 refs try to completely screw this one up, too.

3. Kansas State at Texas, ABC, 7 p.m.: The ultimate no-win situation in what’s becoming a no-win season for Mack Brown. If he snaps a five-game losing streak to K-State, well, darn it, he was supposed to. If he doesn’t, the death spiral triples in speed.

 

THE HOT SEAT: MACK BROWN, TEXAS

At one point, it was supposed to be all The Longhorn Network’s fault. Then, the fall guy was defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. But after bringing in Greg Robinson (snicker) to try and stem the bleeding and STILL giving up 449 yards to Ole Miss this past Saturday, Brown is fast running out of poor sacrificial lambs to toss onto the fire. “Forget the coaches,” the embattled ‘Horns coach told reporters after a 44-23 home loss to the Rebels last weekend. “Come for the kids.” Sorry, Mack. They’re coming for you. CV

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at www.FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at www.FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

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