Posted November 22nd, 2013 by Ross
Filed under: Football

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from Texas’ matchup with Oklahoma State.

Pregame WTH Fans?! Where was the crowd? There were a lot of empty seats even though the announced crowd was 99,739. I guess #TurnUpDKR did not have much effect.

2nd Quarter (11:02) WTH Daje?! It’s the second straight game where Daje Johnson has a brain freeze while trying to field a punt. The rule is DO NOT field a punt inside the 10 yard line. Love the speed, not the decision making.

Halftime WTH Band?! Shout out to all of our veterans on this special day. Great job by the UT band reenacting the flag plant at Iwo Jima.

Halftime WTH Major?! I saw Major Applewhite running from the locker room with security in tow with 5 minutes still left in the halftime. It’s amazing that our OC has only about 15 minutes to offer any halftime adjustments.

3rd Quarter (5:30) WTH Royal?! The scoreboard shows one of Darrell Royal’s favorite saying that when you throw three things happen and two of them are bad. Wish Major Applewhite would have read the screen before the start of the game.

Texas fan

The Texas team needs help from wherever it can get it.

3rd Quarter (2:30) WTH Delay?! The Godzillatron shows a taped delay view of our troops in Afghanistan showing their frustration on a previous UT play. Just two plays later Case McCoy doesn’t see the linebacker and throws another interception.

3rd Quarter (:42) WTH Horseshoe?! This has happened way too many times. The shine is officially coming off the Horseshoe. Case McCoy sky balls a throw for his third interception of the night.

4th Quarter (15:00) WTH Fan Services?! I see the signs around the stadium “Need Help?” text “TXFAN” with issue and location to 69050. I even found this kid with a sign “How may I help you.” No one could offer any assistance on getting any points on the board for the Horns in the second half. The team ends up suffering the worst home loss in the Mack Brown’s tenure.

Next up for the Longhorns are the Red Raiders from Lubbock on November 28th in Austin.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at @40AcresSports or follow me at @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!


Posted November 19th, 2013 by Ross
Filed under: Football

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from Texas’ matchup with West Virginia.

Pregame WTH Helmet?! Again, I am fan of the alternative uniforms and helmets. I would like for the Longhorns to offer up an alternative. The WVU helmet looked horrible. The Mountaineers came out to warm up wearing their normal helmets then went back into the locker room and pulled out some white looking mess. It looked like there was an oil stain on it.

1st Quarter (13:45) WTH Daje?! The biggest play of the game was the touch that did not happen. Daje Johnson had a brain freeze and almost touched the punt that would have given the Mountaineers the ball in the red zone. The 58,570 moonshine fans would have wrecked the stadium if they who have gotten the ball.

1st Quarter (12:11) WTH Up Men?! You are big. You are placed in the middle of the formation to keep rushers from getting to the kicker. The kicker is backed up in the end zone. You may want to block the defender that is going right between both of you. Safety for WVU… Sheesh!

1st Quarter (2:31) WTH Big D?! The defense sacked WVU quarterbacks six times which included 2 fumbles. Crazy as it seems but the WVU backup QB Millard was better than the starting QB that they knocked silly on this play. Defense stepped it up in the first half while the offense took over in the second.

Halftime (:00) WTH Luck?! The Mountaineers had the mojo going into halftime with a field goal to put them up by 6 points. Wondering if WVU AD Oliver Luck was feeling a little better at this time since he didn’t impress the UT Regents as much on his interview? How weird would it have been if Luck was the UT AD and he would’ve been walking around the stadium at his alma mater as the enemy?

3rd Quarter (11:34) WTH Spark?! I have been critical of UT senior safety Adrian Phillips. I need to give him a shout out for an interception that helped kick start the frantic scoring that would occur in the second half. Seven out of the next 8 offensive drives for both teams would result in scores.

4th Quarter (:59) WTH Horseshoe?! You have to admit that this nickname for Case McCoy fits perfectly. Facing a fourth and seven at midfield Case hits his buddy Jaxon Shipley for a first down. The drive results in a tying field goal by the real hero of the game which is the consistent Anthony Fera (4 for 4 on FG).

OT WTH Brown?! This was the first overtime for a Mack Brown led team. Mack gets credit for hiring the play caller and recruiting the player. The play call by Major Applewhite to hit De La Torre out of the back field was something that made all UT fans smile. Great call Major! Then to have the recruit Steve Edmond that has been criticized most of the season come up not only on a third down tip, but to come through again with a pick to seal the win on fourth down!

Next up for the Longhorns are the Cowboys from Stillwater in Austin on November 16th.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at @40AcresSports or follow me at @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!


Posted October 31st, 2013 by Ross
Filed under: Football

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from Texas’ Thursday night game against Texas Christian.

1st Quarter (15:00) WTH Band-Aid?! I like many of the special helmets that college teams are sporting. The TCU helmet baffles me because the blood spurt/stripe depicts a Horny Toad that can squirt blood from its eyes. If you’re bleeding doesn’t it mean that you are getting your butt kicked?

1st Quarter (11:56) WTH Four Eyes?! I thought this new FOX Sports 1 broadcast team was younger and more aware of its surroundings. The announcer totally blew it when he announced “it’s good” on a TCU field goal try that went wide right.

1st Quarter (7:52) WTH Robinson?! OK… I am a believer. Coach Greg Robinson has transformed this defense into one of hell of a unit. The sack and strip by Quandre Diggs resulted in a quick touchdown run on the very next play. Be sure to check out the video of Robinson and the Beaver.

1st Quarter (5:03) WTH Headstand?! Malcolm Brown continued to impress against TCU. His determination after going head first then getting back up to get a solid three yards was impressive. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for another strong 200+ rushing day.

1st Quarter (1:24) WTH Trickster?! Really… really?! Are you trying to be Boise State? The double pass did catch the defense sleeping. But that was the last time TCU would find the endzone for the rest of the night.

2nd Quarter (9:41) WTH Horseshoe?! What a great wheel route by Marcus Johnson to catch a nice sky-ball thrown by Case McCoy. Case connected on a lot of sky-balls for big gains. Just hope we see a little more zip on the ball when needed. Still think Case is more lucky than good.

2nd Quarter (6:08) WTH Mother Nature?! You could fit a complete football game in the time of the weather delay (3:06). I felt sorry for both bands when they made the halftime only 5 minutes long. The 48,212 in attendance definitely thinned out after this episode.

3rd Quarter (9:25) WTH Cowtown?! Three straight running plays inside the 6 yard line shows you that Coach Applewhite was stubborn on getting a rushing touchdown. What was behind the goal post after the extra point? A gaggle of TCU cowboys in the end zone were despondent that they were missing last call.

4th Quarter (4:11) WTH Burn?! The redshirt is officially burned off the freshmen QB Tyrone Swoopes. His first carry was a smooth 8 yard run for a first down. Since the play was on Sunday morning, does it officially count?

Next up for the Longhorns is the Kansas Jayhawks in Austin on November 2nd.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at @40AcresSports or follow me at @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!


Posted September 18th, 2013 by Ross
Filed under: Feature, Football

Mack Brown and Manny Diaz

Mack Brown fired Manny Diaz to try to fix the defense. So… now what?

This is the second time in less than a year that you will not see the normal WTH article this week. The loss to Ole Miss 44 – 23 is another step in the decline of the program. The first time I did not write a weekly WTH article was after the shellacking by OU last year. I need to explain why I am not writing my usual article, and I also want to tackle the coaching situation at UT.

The reason that I did not give a moment by moment account is because I left the game after the third quarter when Ole Miss took a punt to the house to make the score 37 – 23. I did not know what was going to happen next, but I assumed that the team had given up any hope of winning and so did I. You have every right to rip me for not staying until the end of the game to sing the “Eyes of Texas” win or lose. To let you know my track record, I have never left a game (season ticket holder) win or lose except for one other time. I left at halftime of the 66 – 3 rout by UCLA. The 1997 season was John Mackovic’s last year when the team went 4-7. I have the same feelings now as I did 16 years ago about this team and their head coach. I will continue to support the team by attending and cheering the Longhorns at the very next game. At that moment when Ole Miss went up two scores, I felt the only real message I could send to the administration, coaches and the media is to leave the game and have them see the empty seat. I hope the message that was interpreted from the empty seats was this is not the type of effort or standard to be played at DKR. I can deal with losing to a better team or the team having an off day. This team has lost its edge and confidence in the present coaching staff. The fan base has a sense of apathy towards this team and its coaching staff which is deadly for a program. I welcome your thoughts if I totally missed the mark on my exit.

In regards to the coaching situation at Texas, Coach Mack Brown has eliminated any chance of getting another good assistant coach to ever come here because of what he did by firing (excuse me… reassigning) Manny Diaz. I am not going to argue the point if he should have gone or not, but no self-respecting coach is going to be on a program that has no stability and is not a cohesive group. I have to imagine that the other coaches are getting their resume together because they know that Mack is not long for this job. I will be totally shocked if Mack Brown does not step down after this season. My biggest concern is that the Regents, President Powell, and the new Athletic Director try keep all the assistants together by hiring Major Applewhite to coach this team. We all understand that change is evident, but do not try to lessen the change in order to keep the status quo.

I hope they clean house and return an edge to the program that is lacking. Oh yeah, the edge should come from the Head Coach not the assistants or the star players.


Posted September 4th, 2013 by Ross
Filed under: Feature, Football

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from the Texas game against the New Mexico State.

Daje Johnson was electric against New Mexico St.

Daje Johnson was electric with the ball in his hands against New Mexico St. (Photo: Getty)

1st Quarter (11:38) WTH Crash Davis?! We’ve heard about this quick strike offense. Nothing would have been better than to have Mike “Magic” Davis get the team into the red zone. He ended up fumbling the ball to end any hope of a first score. He would more than make up for it later.

1st Quarter (3:29) WTH Punter?! What a letdown when your team cannot make a first down. Well, looks like punter Anthony Fera puts a little more excitement into 4th down with a booming 68 yard punt that is downed at the 1 inch line!

2nd Quarter (15:00) WTH Godzillatron?! A lot of us are happy that LHN is on Time Warner Cable. Too bad the University forgot to pay their cable bill for the stadium’s television set which was on the blink and out for a good portion of the quarter.

2nd Quarter (8:45) WTH Head Games?! Never seen that one before. The NMSU backup quarterback signaled for the snap just as his wide receiver was coming in motion. The ball bounced off the receivers head and rolled around as a fumble. At least the receiver, Bergstrom, used his head and recovered it.

2nd Quarter (1:48 & 1:08) WTH Wonder Twin Powers?! This duo did not transform into an animal and water, but it did electrify the dormant UT crowd (99,623) before halftime. The explosive TD catch and run by John Harris (54 yards) and Daje Johnson (66 yards) made the walk into the locker room a little less uncomfortable.

3rd Quarter (15:00) WTH Gutsy?! The coaching staff for NMSU decided to try an onside kick. No risk it… no biscuit. Did not work, but you gotta give them credit for trying.

3rd Quarter (10:27) WTH Ash?! David Ash galloped 55 yards for a touchdown to pad his rushing stats for the night. (91 yds. rushing + 343 yards passing) He had a tremendous second half. Let’s hope he wakes up earlier for the next game versus BYU.

4th Quarter (15:00) WTH House of Pain?! As the kids say “Epic Fail.” The crowd did not respond when the loud speakers starting playing “Jump.” Time to kill any thoughts of making this a tradition. I been to a few Badger football games… this is not a Wisconsin type fan base.

4th Quarter (2:34) WTH Magic?! Mike Davis redeemed is nickname with a spectacular one foot in bound catch in the end zone. Too bad the refs missed it when they did not signal touchdown but decided to call pass interference. Luckily the replay booth got it right and awarded the TD to Davis.

4th Quarter (:00) WTH Major?! 715 yards! The most yards EVER recorded by a Longhorn football team. Guess the Applewhite offense is up tempo. Greg Davis must have been smiling after this one.

Next up for the Longhorns is a trip to Utah to play the Cougars of BYU on September 7th.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at @40AcresSports or follow me at @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!


Posted February 7th, 2013 by J
Filed under: Football

David Ash

Texas needs a big 2013 from David Ash.

Big things are coming for Texas in 2013: Especially for Junior quarterback David Ash. I’m not calling for an improvement over his sophomore campaign. I’m calling for a transformative season. A season in which each and every one of us has to applaud and give credit where it is due. A season that will require Ash to be mentioned in the same conversation as (gasp!) Layne, Street, Applewhite, Young, and the McCoy (the good one, not the amateur film maker).

Yes. You’re correct — you just read that.

Colt McCoy left Texas as the winningest college quarterback of all time. His junior and senior seasons were two of the best ever by a Texas passer. Check out McCoy’s stats for a reminder of just how great he was in his career and his two Heisman finalist seasons:

Colt McCoy career stats

Here’s where I feel Ash will be for the upcoming season. Yes, his predicted passing total of 4,014 yards surpasses McCoy’s best year of 3,859 yards (2008). The 36 touchdown prediction also surpasses McCoy’s best year of 34 (2008). This is where I get crazy, the point where if you had yet to question my sanity-you begin to. I think Ash out rushes McCoy’s best year as well. I should be on medication and a strong dose of it, correct? Ash will come away with a grand total of 780 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. That total surpasses McCoy’s best season on the ground (561 yards in 2008), but falls short in the number of touchdowns (11, in 2008). It also surpasses the best single-season passing yardage and touchdown totals of Vince Young in 2004 (3036 yards/26 touchdowns), Chris Simms in 2002 (3357 yards/ 21 touchdowns), and Major Applewhite in 1999 (3357 yards/21 touchdowns).

Check out my predictions for each game in 2013:

David Ash 2013 stats

This would be a monumental season for Ash and the Longhorns. An 11-1 record places them at the top of the heap come play-off time and poised to fight it out for a national championship. Quarterbacks over time have shown the most growth between their sophomore and junior seasons. It will be interesting to see how well Ash performs when he has an Offensive Coordinator that will make it imperative to get the ball to his best play makers in areas where they can maximize their abilities. No more multiple shifts and personnel groupings.

Yes, I am pumping sunshine. Bask in it. Soak it in.

I can’t wait to see the first time the Longhorns come out 4 wide with Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Daje Johnson, and Cayleb Jones and either Jonathan Gray or Malcolm Brown in the backfield.

How do you cover that?

Whose the poor linebacker tasked with keeping up with Johnson or Gray/Brown?

Feel free to let me know just how crazy you think I am in the comments below. I’m sure many of you will have something witty to say. I will be more than happy to eat crow if I’m off base and rest assured I will say “I told you so!” if given the opportunity.

Here’s to hoping I get to do that a minimum of 12 times next year.


Posted January 31st, 2013 by J
Filed under: Feature, Football

Major ApplewhiteThe Texas offense will be better in the next season due to the departure of offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and his manic, almost bi-polar play selection. Major Applewhite remains Co-Offensive Coordinator, but will now share the role with wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt. What will make 2013 better than 2012 is that Major Applewhite will be doing what he should have been doing for the last two seasons: calling plays and coaching quarterbacks.

The Alamo Bowl is a small sampling to draw conclusions from, however, it showed that Applewhite has the ability to maximize the talent on offense. He crafted roles for guys based on their unique skill sets. Absent from the Alamo Bowl was Harsin’s dogged insistence on forcing round pegs into square holes. Applewhite didn’t try to outsmart anyone; no mass substitutions, no multiple shifting at the line of scrimmage, no trickery. The game plan wasn’t perfect, but it showed one key element that seemed absent for much of the past two seasons: the ability to adjust when the original plan wasn’t working.

Simply put, Harsin wasn’t a good fit at Texas. The players didn’t respond to him. They didn’t relate to him. Harsin wasn’t a Texas guy. Major Applewhite is Texas. Every recruit in the Southwest knows the name. Their mothers and fathers remember the Big XII Championship game and the Holiday Bowl. Applewhite has the infamous “It” factor that Harsin lacked.

Please don’t get me wrong… I don’t think the 2013 season will be all sunshine and rainbows, but we will see a more cohesive team. We will see more discipline. We will see more accountability. We will see more heart. The old saying, “Attitude reflects leadership” certainly applies here. I don’t see this next iteration of Longhorn football cowering to Oklahoma or self-destructing against West Virginia.

I heard Trent Dilfer last week discussing the Harbaugh brothers and he said, “they get the most from the least and the best from the best.” This immediately made me think of Applewhite’s Alamo Bowl press conference quote when asked about the differences between his offense and Harsin’s. He replied, “…I’ve always felt like even as a player this game is about players, put [the ball] in the best guys’ hands and let them make plays. I think sometimes we over think it a little bit as coaches, so I’m excited to watch these guys go play.”

I’m excited to watch these guys go play as well.

Watch this video below and it will give you a taste of what the players think of Applewhite:


Posted January 21st, 2013 by Ross
Filed under: Feature, Football

Greg Davis

We don't want Greg Davis back, but some of his ideas could help the Texas offense.

OK. I do not want Coach Davis to drive up to the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center and unpack his things. I do however want us to think of the concepts that Greg Davis learned on the job to help Texas make an impressive run to unprecedented glory on the 40 acres.

We saw how the offense sputtered around in the first half of the Valero Alamo Bowl until something clicked to help propel the Longhorns to a 31-27 win. What clicked? Something that Coach Davis learned when installing the spread offense. You need to have a threat at the quarterback position. Look at what is happening to the teams in the Big XII, A&M, Oregon, Ohio State and even the NFL. Coaches across the country are realizing that you need the quarterback to be a threat to run and throw. College kids want to know that they have a chance to go to the next level. Look at the success that the Redskins and Seahawks in the NFL are having with rookie quarterbacks that can run. You cannot have a QB that is destined to run every play, but you do want one that is mobile in the pocket and can be a “threat” to run to make defenses think.

One of Greg Davis’ faults was the thinking that Texas can out talent the opponent no matter the scheme. Bryan Harsin brought the schematic and creative advantages that the UT offense needed. Unfortunately, Coach Harsin fell in love with only certain plays for certain players where the offensive packages were more important than the talent that was out there. The SEC offenses (specifically Bama) which is what Mack Brown wants to emulate with a grind it out running game that does not rely on the quarterback to win the game is no longer viable. Look at how Louisville with its dynamic quarterback put it on Florida in the Sugar Bowl. And who single handily brought down Alabama in their own back yard, but Johnny Football. Look at what Nick Saban said about the no huddle offense before he ran into the Heisman Trophy winner which is predominantly lead by a fast break quarterback.

Greg Davis used the threat of a running quarterback with a wide open passing attack which opened up lanes for the running backs. In case you forgot, we have had individual 1,000 yard rushers while Davis was calling the plays. No Longhorn running back has yet to reach over 780 yards rushing in the past three years under the so called smash mouth running game (OL needs to share in some of the blame). My prediction is that Johnathan Gray will be the next 1,000 yard rusher to join the last back to do that Jamaal Charles. (2007 – 1,619 yds.)

Where can you find these dual threat quarterbacks? Right here in our back yard. Quarterbacks in high school have 7 on 7 tournaments to hone their skill of reading coverages and making quick decisions in the passing game. The best athletes on the field are playing quarterback in Texas. Hell, Texas is the only state in the country that has a dedicated class time assigned to a sport or PE. Dual threat quarterbacks are being used in every type of classification in the sport. Why do you want to recruit a care taker at quarterback when you need something dynamic to keep stronger and faster defenses guessing? We have dual threat quarterbacks on campus and more are coming up through recruiting. David Ash used his legs to jump start the offense in the bowl game and that running helped him open up the passing game.

Major Applewhite may hold the key to the concepts that Coach Davis used while at UT. Coach Applewhite had a great quote after the bowl win when he said that it is not about the X’s and O’s but about the culture of our program and keeping people accountable to be successful. I beg that Coach Brown will let Major carry out his plan on offense. I venture to guess that Major will use this quote from Michael Jordan to the team this offseason, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”


Posted September 22nd, 2011 by Ross
Filed under: Feature, Football

WTH?! (What the Heck?) moments are attempts to find the memorable and the off-beat perspective on Longhorns sports. Here are some interesting moments from the Texas’ game against the Bruins.

1st Quarter (15:00) WTH Bruin Fans?! I have never seen so many empty seats at the Rose Bowl (54,583 in attendance). The Rose Bowl is a beautiful venue, but it was an eye sore with the overhead shots of the stadium where there were plenty of seats to be had.

1st Quarter (12:35) WTH Prince?! UCLA QB Kevin Prince was in a royal mood by supplying the greatest of all gifts which were three interceptions all in the first quarter. The prince became a pauper and sat the bench for the rest of the game.

2nd Quarter (11:36) WTH Malcolm?! We have to call out the freshmen’s first touchdown run of his career as a Longhorn. Malcolm Brown had a spectacular day finishing with 110 yards while running for his first touchdown with only one shoe on. Wonder what he will do to top that feet on his next TD run?

2nd Quarter (:58) WTH Flag Football?! It is amazing to see how Marquise Goodwin has set the tone for this team with his speed and blocking. The hit that laid out the UCLA defender was a thing of beauty to spring Mike Davis for a nice reception. The referee thought that they played two hand touch in California when he threw the flag for the personal foul.

2nd Quarter (:21) WTH Horseshoe 1?! Shout out to Beau Edge from 104.9 The Horn to give the ultimate description for Case McCoy. Not a great practice player and not the measurable you would see from a top ranked prospect but the kid has a golden horseshoe up his butt and he just makes plays. Case scrambles around and makes something out of nothing by hitting Mike Davis for a 25 yard play that eventually leads to another touchdown before the half.

3rd Quarter (9:45) WTH Horseshoe 2?! Case McCoy delivers another crazy play when he throws up a prayer that is tipped by the UCLA defender right into the waiting arms of Mike Davis for 45 yards. Case will make more mistakes as he is growing into the leader of this team. But it does seem that he has the IT factor that we all want from the position.

3rd Quarter (1:40) WTH Harsin?! Coach Harsin is demonstrating how to operate an offense when he uses the wildcat formation to spring Fozzy Whitaker in for a back braking touchdown to put the Horns up by 22 points. Hope that Coach Applewhite is learning the play calling skills because Harsin will be head coach sooner than the Horn fans want to think about it.

4th Quarter (12:29) WTH DB’s?! What a coming out party for this young secondary. Adrian Phillips, Kenny Vaccaro, and Carrington Byndom all had interceptions. But Adrian needs to be singled out for the ferocious hit he delivered to force the ball out from the UCLA receiver which was recovered by Blake Gideon. Great job by the defense to switch momentum after the Horns suffered a fumble deep in their own territory.

Next up for the Longhorns are the Cyclones as they travel to Ames for the game on Oct. 1st.

Thanks for following my WTH articles throughout the season. I appreciate the opportunity to rant about the greatest University sports program in the country. You can continue to follow comments on all of UT sports on twitter at @40AcresSports or follow me at @Horns1991. HOOK EM!!


Posted August 30th, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Feature, Football

We’ve had a rocky relationship over the years in a weird masochistic sort of way.  When we first all got together, back in 1996, you were an evil, determined mistress, a vision of perfection with no vulnerable, tender side.  You dismissed all who came before you – sometimes even violently and machinelike, with no real pleasure to speak of.  Color was irrelevant and so was location -your place or theirs, you had your way with everyone and they were forced to do your bidding.

Then when we really did hook up for the first time, on a cold December night in St. Louis, you weren’t exactly at the height of your power.  Arizona State came out and coldcocked you three months before.  In true Nebraska spirit, you took out your pain and agony on the rest of your schedule.  Some of our old friends were soundly thrashed by the Lady in Red, and when it came down to the end, you prevailed over mighty Colorado and were waiting to beat that little upstart Texas for your largely ceremonial dance ticket.

Well it didn’t happen.  I overcame everything that you had and everything that you stood for, and emerged from that dome with a smile and a trophy.  I rolled and left you a second embarrassment in a single season, something unthinkable to you and everyone you knew.  Of course, you chose 1997 to wreck havoc and take revenge upon all that had wronged you, in a year I’d like to forget.  You emerged unscathed, walking into Seattle and taking U-Dub’s lunch money early on.  You even brushed off Kansas State right after that, whom at the time you didn’t know was to question your power in upcoming years.  You were back where you felt like you belonged.

Then 1998 happened.  Solich happened.  Ricky and Major happened.  Something unthinkable happened.  I went to your house on Halloween, decided I’d had enough of you and your bullying, and hit you as hard as I could.  And you went down, and I left with all of your Halloween candy.  Nobody had invaded your crib and came out victorious in seven years.  I think that was the day our relationship changed.

1999 saw us both sleek and watchful, confident in our abilities but wary of our foes.  You didn’t survive a return visit to my place, but you did get the last laugh in San Antonio.  I was the only blemish on your dance card back then, but you could safely say this was not the one-sided relationship it used to be.   You could even make the case that maybe we were growing a little fond of each other, but we each had our own stuff going on after that.  We were both trying to get from good to great and besides, we both had K-State and Oklahoma to deal with.

By the next time we finally saw each other again in 2002, you were a mess.  You’d even let Iowa State and Oklahoma State push you around.  I left Lincoln for the second consecutive time victorious, an unprecedented feat.    Colorado even wiped their muddy boots on your once-hallowed carpet and strolled away whistling.  I wondered what was wrong with you but after kicking the crap out of you in Austin in 2003, I realized I had better things to do.  Nebraska could take care of herself.

I was a little busy in 2004 and 2005.  I’m not going to apologize.  You’d been where I was ten years before, so you understand.

2006 showed me in the position that you had in 1996, albeit a little weaker.  But that didn’t stop me from taking a third straight win in your house.  I was beginning to think about leaving a note on the fridge so you knew what I liked to eat when I came into town.  We were both trying to find ourselves again, being good but nothing special.  I’m not going to talk much about about 2007 besides you finally realizing a change was due and I beat you again.  I was proud of you for reinventing yourself but kept a healthy dose of skepticism.

2008 was crummy for both of us in different ways.  You had to deal with Missouri and Texas Tech’s best punches and you’re still feeling out this whole cougar thing.  Traveling to Oklahoma doesn’t sound like much fun – I mean, I always say I’ll meet halfway – and getting beat down there has to be worse.  That was the year I learned I don’t like pirates.

I can’t explain last year.  I was at the top of my game, feeling all of the rushes and pressure of 2005 again.  You rolled the clock back despite shocking losses to Iowa State and Texas Tech at home in back to back weeks.  You partied like it was 1995, your salad days.  I won’t get into how and why I get second chances and you don’t.  It just happened that way.  All of the hatred and the fear I had of you in the nineties, though?  It’s a complete role reversal.  I’m at the top of the hill and you’re trying to knock me off one last time before you go run off with your new friends.

I’m not going to wish you luck, as that would be completely asinine.  I do want to thank you for some great memories that have come at your expense over the years.  Sure, you’ll always have San Antonio…but I’ll always have Lincoln.



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