Sunday School: Colorado

November 27, 2009

Now we can talk Texas.

In another win that isn’t going to be classified as “pretty”, the Huskers finished off their Dominate The North (forgetting that pathetic loss to Iowa State) Tour with a 28-20 win at Colorado.  The Husker defense still manages to turn people away even though they are bending a lot more without breaking.  Friday, they gave up 403 yards of offense to a Colorado offense that averaged almost 100 yards less.  unfortunately, the Huskers will be facing a team that will likely not give up opportunities in the red zone like KSU, Oklahoma and Colorado.  Because the one major difference in next week’s Big 12 Championship is the quarterback.

With a chance to seize a conference championship, a national championship game berth and a Heisman Trophy, it is going to take a superhuman effort by the Blackshirts to slow down Colt McCoy.  Yes, the Blackshirts have been close to superhuman this season, but they haven’t faced a team as talented as Texas and a quarterback as good as McCoy.  Is there anything left in the tank for Nebraska’s defense?  They have been asked to step up time and time again since the Virginia Tech game.  That’s almost three full months ago.  They have been playing non-stop since the second week of October.

In other words, Nebraska’s chances of an Oklahoma-style performance out of its defense is very remote.  The offense has to show up in Dallas, or Texas will continue their domination of the Huskers.

There were some signs of encouragement the last few weeks.  Two weeks ago, it was the running game and the play action pass.  This week, it was Rex Burkhead and in both cases, the offensive line began to assert itself when it mattered most.  Now I can see some Husker fans salivating at the fact that UT gave up 190 rushing yards and 532 total yards to A&M on Thanksgiving.  But before you get too excited, consider that with Jerrod Johnson the Aggies had superior QB play on Turkey Day.

Johnson both ran and passed against the Longhorns and his receivers made some tough catches – ones that I haven’t seen Nebraska receivers make this season.  Texas isn’t an impenetrable defense, but Nebraska’s offense is one that sometimes can’t find its way out of a wet paper bag.  Shawn Watson has put his eggs in Zac Lee’s basket, for better or worse.  He has also reigned the offense in to the point where gaining 500 yards might take 2 1/2 games to reach.  So don’t look too much into the A&M game when assessing the Texas defense for the Big 12 Championship.

So what will it take to pull the upset and ruin the Horns’ chances of playing for the BCS marbles?  A performance in all three phases like we haven’t seen.  Okay, maybe that’s not fair to Alex Henery.  How about a performance on offense and defense like we haven’t yet seen plus the status quo from special teams.

Bishop Six Pack

The Good

Rex Burkhead.  After Roy Helu’s third quarter fumble, the freshman was inserted in the game and gave his best performance of his young Husker career.  He accounted for 55 yards on the only decent drive the Huskers had all game.  In addition, his first 100 yard game of what could be many more.  It may be safe to say that Burkhead has put his broken toe injury behind him.

Niles Paul and the case of the left footed kicker.  Remember how Nebraska struggled trying to field kicks against Missouri?  Rain was a significant culprit, but blame was also placed on the awkward spin of the ball off a left footed punter.  Don’t know if you noticed, but CU had a south-hoof (as opposed to southpaw) punter, too.  Paul didn’t have any issues with fielding the ball Friday and his 59 yard punt return for a score was critical after NU’s offense was sputtering with great field position.

Alex Henery.  As far as pure punting is concerned, he is not as good as Sam Koch or Kyle Larson.  But when it comes to directional kicking and finding a way to pin the other team deep, Henery is as good as they come.  Now if we can just get him to find the accuracy on those long field goals……(partially kidding.)

The Bad

-Go-To Plays Are Gone.  Two weeks ago, NU started to rollout Zac Lee to his right on a play action pass to a shallow crossing tight end or receiver.  Last week, Kansas State started to snuff it out in the second half.  Friday, Colorado had it telegraphed.  NU’s bread and butter will still have to be power running with play action off of that look – it’s too late to try and manufacture anything else – but the Huskers will have to open up the playbook a little more against Texas.  Rolling out Lee is still a good idea, Watson just needs to find new looks and new pass patterns his receivers can run so that they don’t look so predictable.

-The final touchdown.  This is unless you were one that bet the Huskers couldn’t cover the 9-11 point spread that Vegas had them favored.  Bo Pelini said afterwards that the play epitomized the performance of his entire team on Friday.  Harsh comments?  Yes, but I think Bo was sending a message to his team that they have to be razor-sharp next weekend.

The Option.  Will Zac Lee’s injury in the third quarter finally convince Watson (and Lee) that they cannot run the sprint option?  Lee does not have the runner’s instinct to know when to cut it up inside when the perimeter defense spreads the field wide.  The play looks mechanical and forced and is easy to defend when you know the quarterback isn’t adept at running it.  Hang your hat on power football and the play action pass, that’s the dance that brought Nebraska through the month of November into the Big 12 title game.

Frankly Speaking

Another one of the “discarded” Huskers is back in the MAC Championship.  Last year, Turner Gill shocked college football with his Buffalo Bulls.  This year, Frank Solich has Ohio back in the title game and once again the Bobcats will have to face Central Michigan.  I have no idea how things would have worked out if Solich had not been fired.  But his dismissal was inevitable considering the boob that was running the show around here.  We can only be happy for Solich and his “Nebraska-east” program with assistant coaches Tim Albin, Jimmy Burrow, Gerry Gdowski, Ross Els, Keven Lightner all with Nebraska ties.

Bowl Matchups

It’s pretty obvious that the SEC champ and Texas are on a collision course for the BCS Title game.  Of course, the Huskers could screw that up in Dallas next week.  As far as BCS at-large teams are concerned, here is my pecking order:

1) TCU

2) Boise State

3) Georgia Tech (if they lose ACC title game vs. Clemson)

4) Penn State

5) Iowa

6) Oklahoma State

I still think Nebraska is destined for the Holiday Bowl.  I don’t know how attractive the Huskers will look to the Cotton Bowl folks having just been in Dallas a month earlier.  Sure, the matchup with LSU might be intriguing, but will Nebraskans travel to Texas again?  Plus, a Les Miles vs. his old school could be better for the Cotton Bowl.  I hope Okie State doesn’t make the Fiesta Bowl “just because” the folks in Arizona want to maintain a Big 12 presence.  OSU’s resume is the least attractive of the potential at-large candidates.


Cornhusker Classics: 1959 Nebraska vs. Oklahoma

November 25, 2009

It was one of the greatest victories ever enjoyed by Husker fans, but it didn’t win a conference championship or a bowl game or a national title.  Instead, Nebraska accomplished something that it’s other six Big 8 brothers couldn’t do for over a decade.  They beat Oklahoma.

The Sooners were 74-0-2 since 1946, they had dominated the 50’s and were enroute to another ho-hum victory in the Big 8 Conference when they entered Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Halloween 1959.

They would exit with a loss.

Join KLIN’s John Bishop for a look back at one of the great moments in Husker football as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nebraska’s historic upset of the Sooners.  This special Thanksgiving Day edition of Cornhusker Classics will air at 6:00am and again at 9:00am Thursday, or you can listen on your computer by visiting our podcast site.

Hour One

Hour Two

Hour Three

Buying local for the holidays: An ethical dilemma?

November 23, 2009

Trust me, I’m not normally the sort of person who is waking up at 4 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving to go crash down the doors of the local big box store to save a few bucks.  I try to sleep until sunrise every chance that I get.  That said, I’m finding that as I age I get increasingly excited about finding sweet deals during this time of year. 

In the last couple years websites that direct readers to unbelievable Black Friday deals have enjoyed exponentially increasing popularity.  Initially, the sites would publish leaked sales or newspaper circulars so those people who are aggressive Black Friday shoppers would be able to strategize beforehand.   As these sites evolved, the people running them realized that they needed to capitalize on their seasonal exposure, so now they’re looking for ways to keep people coming back beyond the week of Thanksgiving.  Websites like Dealnews and Brad’s Deals track online (and some in-store) Black Friday-like bargains during the entire year (but still get the majority of their traffic during the holiday season).  I don’t fancy myself a big online shopper, but I’ve never been as tempted to take care of a large portion of my Christmas list from the comfort of my office chair since discovering these sites.  Seriously, look at some of those deals. 

So, I admit it, last Christmas I got my wife some boots (fine, they were Ugg knockoffs, but she liked them) and I purchased them online rather than at my local retailer.  That was probably the only thing I bought online all year, but as I start to see more of these online deals pop up, I’m having a battle of conscience.  Should I feel guilty for buying stuff like this online, even when it’s a great deal, rather than keeping that money in our community?  Or are we at the point where everyone’s so concerned about their finances that saving money should be the ultimate goal for any family, regardless of how it affects local businesses.  Uggh, just what  I needed, something else to stress me out during the holiday season.  We’re going to talk about this and take your calls on the issue tomorrow during the 7:00 hour.

Also, for those of you who do shop online from national retailers, I assume you all always fill out a form and pay your consumer’s use taxes into the Dept. of Revenue when those retailers don’t collect Nebraska sales tax, right?

Sunday School: Kansas State

November 22, 2009

I am at a loss for words.

Not because I am stunned or overwhelmed by what I saw, but because after Nebraska’s 17-3 win over Kansas State, clinching the Big 12 North Division, I don’t have anything more to write.

The game and the victory are probably symbolic of what we have seen out of this Husker team of 2009.  A workmanlike effort.  Not flashy.  Not spectacular.  Just another win.

Nebraska’s offense did enough.  The defense, though still looking like it is suffering from OU hangover, did enough.  Special teams did enough.  Now, it earns Nebraska another trip to the Big 12 Championship game.  Ironically, in a city and a stadium that exudes flash and glamour.

Dallas, get ready to welcome the unassuming Nebraska Cornhuskers – champions of the Big 12 North.

And that’s really all I can say about that.

Bishop’s Six Pack

The Good:

Zac Lee – It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for you.  Since being asked to manage the offense against Oklahoma, the confidence has returned to Nebraska’s on-off-back on starting quarterback.  Saturday night may have been his most accurate passing game of the season, though it won’t be that way statistically.  All season, I have wondered about Lee’s short-to-intermediate passing abilities.  Many times he would throw behind or short of receivers.  But against Kansas State, Lee was on target all night.  Those short passes – many of them on rollouts – got Nebraska’s offense going and helped a running game that took some time to get going.

In addition, Lee ran the ball about as good as he has all season.  He didn’t appear like he was ready to go down.  He took some vicious hits and bounced right back up.  There was a toughness there that I wondered existed.  Much of this success is due to the fact that NU has it’s running threat back and that Shawn Watson has settled into a new offensive identity.  But it can’t happen with a quarterback who is timid or appears lacking in confidence.  With this Zac Lee, Nebraska has a puncher’s chance in Dallas.

Penalties, or lack thereof – The Huskers committed just 3 penalties all night and we didn’t see one false start or holding penalty that destroyed a positive play.

Senior Class – A good night was had by the 13 members of the 2009 Nebraska football senior class in the Memorial Stadium swan song.  Seniors Larry Asante, Ndamukong Suh and Phillip Dillard led the way in tackles.  Asante made the game changing hit that separated Keithen Valentine from the ball at the Nebraska 1 yard line and intercepted another pass inside the red zone.

The Bad:

Losing Containment – For the second week in a row, the Husker defensive line was made to look mortal and while there was a little better pass rush on Grant Gregory than was applied to KU’s Todd Reesing, too many times was Gregory able to escape and make positive yards.  You knew that Suh and Crick was draw some added attention, but it is time for the pressure from the ends to pinch down on the opponent’s QB.  The Huskers were fortunate that Reesing is not enjoying his best year or that Gregory is nothing more than a journeyman passer.  The Big Red won’t be so fortunate against Texas’s Colt McCoy.

A little soft in the middle – For the last two weeks, opponents have schemed against the Blackshirt to open up the middle of the field.  With their spread, it was relatively easy for Kansas to get receivers out wide and leave the middle open for crossing routes or for Reesing to run.  K-State got a bulk of their passing success by dragging Brandon Banks or a running back across the middle.  If Gregory were a better passer, he would have had another 50-100 yards through the air.  Again, this is a luxury the Blackshirts won’t have against Texas.

A Meaningless Thanksgiving Weekend – Don’t tell this to Bo Pelini, but this will likely be the most anti-climatic end of regular season game Nebraska has played in years.  Even in 2004 and 2006, there was the drama of avoiding a losing season.  Last year, it meant a Gator Bowl trip instead of a lesser bowl.  But what is there in 2009?  It depends if Colorado is still willing to save a head coach’s job and by the sounds of the rumbling from Boulder, I don’t think they care if Dan Hawkins comes back for another year.  Sure an outright Big 12 North title and building momentum for the title game is important.  Look at what NU did to Colorado in 2005.  I just hope that the Huskers continue the pledge of working hard every day, because it’s going to be hard to work up a lot of enthusiasm for this Friday.

My How Things Have Changed

The first time I went to Memorial Stadium for a game in 1978, we traveled by motorhome, parked in some nondescript lot, ate some Irv’s sandwiches and went to the game.  I have been to plenty of games as a fan, but never really noticed a huge emphasis on tailgating around Memorial Stadium.  I always assumed that tailgates were things that happened at places where there is more surface parking close to the stadium.

I assumed wrong.

For the first time since my college days, I got a chance to walk around and take in the atmosphere in the hours before kickoff.  It was a pleasant discovery to see the various set ups, both elaborate and simple, from the giant motorhomes to the converted buses.  From simple tents to corporate parties with multiple large screen televisions, there was quite a party happening in Lincoln for several hours before the ball was set on the kicking tee.

So if anyone tells you that this town is boring, just bring them here on a gameday Saturday.  We know how to throw a party.

Get Ready Conspiracy Theorists

Barring an unlikely collapse against Texas A&M, the Big 12 is poised to get a representative in the BCS title game for the 7th time in the 12 year history of the contest (and the 5th in the last 7 games.)  Of course, Nebraska could spoil the Longhorns party in Pasadena by pulling the James Brown-esque upset in Cowboys Stadium.  Already this year we have heard the “foul” cries from the SEC that officials there have been protecting Florida and Alabama as they run towards an eventual BCS Semifinal game in the SEC Championship.

The Big Texas….er, 12 wouldn’t dream of protecting it’s 18 million dollar (the payout for reaching the BCS Championship) investment…..would it?

Any calls that go against the Huskers will certainly be questioned.

Sunday School Top Ten

1 – Florida

2 – Alabama

3 – Texas

4 – TCU

5 – Cincinnati

6 – Georgia Tech

7 – Boise State

8 – Ohio State

9 – Iowa

10 – Pittsburgh

Friday Night Videos (11/20)

November 20, 2009

Ahh yes.  I can taste the weekend.  Let’s get to the videos. 

If you’re scared of heights, don’t click ‘play’.  this is footage from the top of the Burj Dubai, the nearly completed tallest man-made structure ever built.  Unbelievable stuff.

This is for John Bishop, the resident Star Wars geek.  Apparently this guy taped himself singing four different a capella parts of this arrangement, and then fused them all together for a weird, yet compelling tribute to the George Lucas classic.

Granted, this next one is clearly a marketing piece for Google’s new operating system, Chrome, but if you’ve ever been frustrated by the way computers work, I think you’ll really enjoy the explanations and ideas in this one.

Bethel College in Kansas runs one of the weirder trick plays for a touchdown that I’ve ever seen.

There’s often ‘that person’ who’s had too much to drink at wedding receptions, but rarely do they ruin things as much as the gal in the red dress does in this video.

And with that, I bid you a happy weekend, and hopefully I’ll be wearing my Big XII North Champs shirt next time I blog.

Wednesday Odds & Ends

November 18, 2009

-First, I can’t believe some of you had the audacity to be critical of Federal Stimulus Package, errr, Recovery and Reinvestment Act that passed through Congress earlier this year.  Now that the results are in, time for you haters to eat some crow.  I mean, just look at the 22.4 jobs that were created in Nebraska’s 17th Congressional District or the nearly quarter of a million dollars realized by our good friends in the NE-48.   I think it’s pretty clear that our Government knows what it’s doing. 

UPDATE (11/19):  The information on the seems to be fixed right now, but here’s an article from the OWH on Nebraska’s, uhhh, new congressional districts. 

-I’ve always had a hard time keeping track of all those little counties west of Lincoln, I mean who knew there was actually a place called Deuel County?  So of course I’m overjoyed that the conservative-ish economists and thinkers over at the Platte Institute think that we should go ahead and get rid of 65 of ’em

-Today it’s all the rage on the #LNK Twitter feed that we apparently live in the second strangest city in the USA, just behind New York City, according to the folks at Tableseed.  The results were tabulated using the quantity of ‘strange’ stories that came across the AP wire from each city.  Speaking of strange, why is a small-venture company out of Wisconsin that specialilzes in creating birthday clubs for restaurants putting out press releases about the strangest cities and states?  Perhaps they were hoping to get some big-time radio host to drive traffic to their site.  Bravo, Tableseed, bravo. 

-Tomorrow on the show we’ve got the people from Time Warner joining us on the show around 7:15 to talk about their new “start over” feature on their digital cable boxes that will save people like me, who often forget to set the DVR at key times.  Pretty cool feature if you ask me, but I’m still wishing they’d add that 30 second forward button that I used to have on my satellite DVR that made watching entire recorded football games in a half hour a snap.

Children’s Hospital Benefit Concert

November 18, 2009

If you were listening Wednesday morning we shared the story of 6 mo. old Landon Crawford with his father Nat.  The Crawfords have turned their story of medical hardship into a way to help others going through similar problems with kids needing urgent medical care and mounting expenses their parents are facing.

As a result, Nat has helped organize a benefit concert this Sunday (Nov. 22) from 1-4pm at 1st Avenue Social Hall (1st and Cornhusker).  There will be family friendly live music from the hip-hop, rock and country genres, a raffle, food and more.  All the proceeds are going to Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and their medical hardship fund to help parents facing a mountain of bills in order to care for their children.

If you would like more information on how to help, call Nat Crawford at 770-8501, email, or stop by 1st Avenue this Sunday.

Jack and John thank you for your support!