It has been awhile since the last Barndog's Bites. But it is back to blogging on a regular basis, and what a way to start...the final college basketball game at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. I entered the facility when the doors opened 90 minutes before tip-off of the Nebraska men's game against Minnesota.
That's the time frame I probably arrived prior to the first college game at the Sports Center when the Huskers took on the Iowa Hawkeyes to open the 1876-77 season. I was a college sophomore at UNL and covered the game for the Daily Nebraskan student newspaper.
The Huskers of head coach Joe Cipriano lost that night 71-57. Hopefully the outcome of the final contest at Devaney will be different. As this is being typed the Golden Gophers of Minnesota have been introduced to a near sellout crowd and the lights have been lowered for the Husker introductions.
The Scottsbluff boys basketball team, sitting in section 3C, is watching Herbie Husker and a national guard member drop from the rafters to deliver the game ball.
Scarlet Katie Rueb of Scottsbluff is on hand performing for the crowd. Another former Scottsbluff product was busy before the game. Eric Piatkowski signed autographs, along with Dave Hoppen and Erik Strickland. I just made the cut line.
It's festive at the old barn, but transformation is already taking place for volleyball next season. The bottom level of the Sports Center is all torn up. The new look has to be ready for volleyball this season. The Huskers have already been awarded an NCAA Regional.
Tubby Smith's crew, featuring Elliott Eliason of Chadron, won the tip. Both teams were scoreless on opening possessions, in fact Minnesota turned it over on its second possession as well and the crowd went wild. I'm betting it's going to be a Barnburner of a Game.
David Rivers will go down in the record book as the player to score the first points in the final game, in fact he has gotten the first four and the place is rocking.
The Huskers want the Capital One Bowl Game against Georgia. Can they hold on? A 24-23 halftime lead is impressive considering some of the first half blunders. Another 30 minutes will tell us whether Husker fans will be excited starting off the new year or whether there will be depression like after last year's Capital One Bowl Game loss to South Carolina.
The Husker offense was mostly impressive. One mistake from Taylor Martinez an a bonehead penalty from Jake Cotton. were the only blemishes for Tim Beck's crew. The special teams had a couple of costly mistakes. A blocked punt early made fans wonder whether the Huskers were in for another long afternoon. A missed field goal from Brett Maher was because of a bad hold, but I am not blaming Bridgeport's Jase Dean. The snap was well inside and tough to handle. I thought Dean did well to get it down, but timing was shot by then.
The defense bent but didn't break much. I am concerned about more big plays in the second half by the Bulldogs. However the defense, led by Eric Martin, made some huge stops.
It was another eventful local sports year in 2012. Athletes provided many memorable moments. There were also events away from the playing fields that captured headlines.
It's always tough to make a list like this because there is always an event or an athlete that doesn't make it and there is a compelling argument why it, or they, should be in the top ten.
Here we go with the 2012 list.
10. The retirement of Scottsbluff High School Activities Director Lee Dick. Nothing should take away from the countless hours Dick spent working for the students at SHS. However, some controversy followed him into retirement. SHS is on a one-year probation, issued by the Nebraska School Activities Association, after it was deemed Dick used SHS funds illegally to by a pass to the Field of Dreams practice facility for the golf and softball teams. Dick's replacement, Dave Pauli, is story 10a after jumping from the same position at Gering after just one year on the job with the Bulldogs.
9. Gering cowboy Dean Gorsuch continued to be a force on the pro rodeo circuit. He finished 6th in steer wrestling at the just completed National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. The two-time world champ entered the competition 5th in the World Standings, earning nearly $140,000 during the season.
8. Local runners competed well at the State Cross Country Meets in Kearney. Even though the Scottsbluff boys did not capture a third straight Class B state title, the state's most successful program ever, was a strong second to Mount Michael Benedictine and the Bearcats had the meet medalist in sophomore Anthony Barraza. Junior teammate Anthony Parra added a third place finish. Also in Class C, Bridgeport's Cody Franklin captured the gold medal.
7. The Scotts Bluff Country Club hosted the Nebraska Amateur Championship July 26-29. It was the first time since 1994, and just the third time ever, the Club hosted the event. 129 golfers entered the tournament won by Greg Sohl of Wahoo. Mitchell Klooz of Laurel finished second and a number of area golfers dotted the leaderboard. Mitchell's Brock Ehler finished third, Paul Mohr of Scottsbluff was fourth and former Creighton University golfer Austin Miller of Gering tied for eighth. Club pro Chris Nowlen did a great job of hosting the event. Nowlen recently announced he was leaving the SBCC to return home to a new golf pro position in Montana.
6. The Scottsbluff High School football team turned in an unbeaten regular season. Matt Klein had a huge season pacing a Bearcat attack that had big road wins at state playoff teams McCook and Aurora on the way to a 9-0 season. Unfortunately the Bearcats, who earned the top seed for the 16-team playoffs, were eliminated in the first round by York.
5. The Scottsbluff High School wrestling team did well in its return to prominence. The Cats, directed by first year head coach James Miller, finished fifth at the Class B State Tournament in Omaha. Scottsbluff was paced by two individual state champions in 126-pounder Colton Adams and 138-pounder Tyler Nation. The sophomore Adams has won two championships in two years for the Bearcats. He finished the year 37-3. Nation became the Bearcats first three-time state champ. As a sophomore he won the 125-pound title and as a junior he won at 135. He finished his senior season 46-2 and is Scottsbluff's all-time leader in wins.
4. The Western Nebraska Cougar volleyball team continued its national prominence with a second place finish at the National Junior College Volleyball Tournament in West Plains, MO. Giovana Melo's crew finished the season 40-3. The Cougars downed the College of Northern Idaho in round two and Iowa Western CC in the semifinals, two teams they lost to in the regular season. However, in the finals they fell to the College of Southern Idaho, a team they had beaten during the regular campaign. Melo's career record after five years at WNCC is a sparkling 225-17. Danika Youngblood and Luiza Martins made the National Tournament All-Tourney Team.
3. Scottsbluff High School capped a three-state championship year by capturing the Boys Class B State Track and Field Championship in Omaha in May. The Cats outdistanced McCook 48-to-41. Senior Isaiah Castellaw led the way with a first place finish in the 300 IM hurdles. He was also part of the school's top placing 400-relay, joining two Matt Klein's and Luke Worden. Worden also earned a second in the 100-meters.
2. A midseason slump didn't detour the Gering Platte Valley Companies senior legion baseball team from its goal of Class B state championship. Doug Jones' team slipped below .500 midway through this past summer's campaign but rebounded with a run to a third straight state tournament. Gering fell to 14-16 June 23 after a doubleheader loss at Casper in which they were outscored 37-10. From that point on Platte Valley Companies went 16-4, including 5-1 at the State Tournament in Wahoo. Gering outscored their foes 35-5 at state, topping Omaha Roncalli 5-1 in the championship game. Zach Smith was the winning pitcher. He led the team in hitting and pitching all season and will continue his baseball career at WNCC. Current Cougar Grant Rimington was also on the team along with Nate Marquez, a third Gering player that will play for the Cougars next season. Marquez' dad, Tim, by the way played on Gering's last baseball state title team in 1982.
1. Speaking of the Cougars, three former Scottsbluff Bearcats are playing basketball for Russ Beck this season after leading the Cats to the school's first state title since 1955. Isaiah Castellaw, Zach Clemens and Rich Williams were part of a squad that went 25-3 for head coach Tony Siske. Scottsbluff was dominant throughout the season with losses to only Class A Norfolk, Sidney and McCook. Scottsbluff also owned wins over the Red Raiders and McCook during the campaign. Norfolk was a Class A State Tournament team. At state Scottsbluff held off Aurora in the opening round, made a big comeback against Beatrice in the semifinals, playing a perfect final minute to win by one, and downed perennial power South Sioux City in the championship game. Junior Michael Hadden had a huge state tournament and was named Nebraska's sixth man of the year in Class B. The team celebrated the state title with a special banquet that brought members of the three previous Scottsbluff title teams, from 1941, 1952 and 1955, together to help rejoice in the new crown.
I lost my voice this weekend. A hazard of the trade when you broadcast a game with a cold. But at least I didn't lose a football game like Nebraska did! How can you lose that bad in the biggest game, not only of this season, but of head coach Bo Pelini's career.
The blowout loss continues a disturbing trend of big losses in big games by the Huskers. Forget the fact they had five come-from-behind wins this season. They hadn't had that many in the last 50-years of Husker football, let alone in one Big Ten season!
Have I mentioned yet that the Big Ten Conference is really weak in football this season? Well, I defended Bo all season, and certainly during the win streak to end the regular season. But now it is time to evaluate and re-evaluate the program.
Bo, the defensive genius, better make some changes. A 10-3 record shouldn't get anyone fired. Just ask Frank Solich. But it might happen with Pelini. I don't think it will. Hence, back to changes that need to be made.
The Badgers exploited Nebraska's weakness. A poor defensive line. The Huskers, even with defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler healthy, would not have stopped the Badgers rushing attack Saturday night. It starts with talent. The Husker talent level needs to improve. It continues with attitude. That starts at the top with Pelini. There is no way an average Wisconsin team should have beaten Nebraska 70-31.
Based on the amount of embarrassing losses Nebraska has suffered with Pelini as head coach maybe Bo should go.
Ok, I have waffled on the coaching situation. Here is my final say, Bo should be fired, but he will stay.
I'm glad I spent my evening at Cougar Palace watching the Scottsbluff boys basketball team win the Western Conference Invitational. Tony Siske's crew topped Omaha Skutt in the championship game 65-52 behind a phenomenal performance by senior Michael Hadden. It was a great team effort for the Bearcats to win the game, but without Michael and his 39 points it would not have happened.
The Cats were loaded last year as they ran to the Class B state championship, but it was Hadden who willed the team to the three wins in Lincoln. Without the invaluable Matt Klein until 2013, it is Michael Hadden's team to carry until the return. He'll need help along the way, but it is his team to carry!
Many Nebraska fans were rooting for Ohio State to top Michigan Saturday so the Huskers wouldn't have to share the Legends Division title with the Wolverines. I rooted for Ohio State because I wanted the Huskers to have one of their losses to an unbeaten team, one I think is better than Notre Dame.
But because of tatoos Urban Meyer's first Buckeye team is done for the year...a perfect 12-0. It wasn't a pretty 12-0, but Ohio State is a much better looking 12-0 than Notre Dame.
I blogged after Nebraska's 13-7 win over Iowa Friday that the Huskers would lose to Wisconsin by 10. I will stand by that, however, the Badgers looked pretty pedestrian in an overtime loss at Penn State Saturday.
How about Penn State? They are the story of the year in college football. To finish 8-4 in the midst of the worst scandal in college football history is amazing.
1. Ohio State, 12-0
2. Notre Dame, 12-0
3. Alabama, 11-1
4. Georgia, 11-1
5. Florida, 11-1
6. LSU, 10-2
7. Stanford, 10-2
8. Oregon, 11-1
9. Kansas State, 10-1
10. South Carolina, 10-2
11. Texas A&M, 10-2
12. Oklahoma, 9-2
13. Nebraska, 10-2
14. Florida State, 10-2
15. Clemson, 10-2
16. UCLA, 9-3
17. Oregon State, 8-3
18. Texas, 8-3
19. Utah State, 10-2
20. Michigan, 8-4
21. Penn State, 8-4
22. Northwestern, 9-3
23. Kent State, 11-1
24. Northern Illinois, 11-1
25. Boise State, 9-2
Tis the holiday season. With that always comes stories. There are stories of joy, gratefulness and sometimes just unusual stories.
I have a grateful story. Suspected heart issues for me are not, at least for now. Doctors orders: I need to lose some weight. So much for the Santa Claus gig I was gearing up for!
The unusual story involves my wife Veronica. She is always the inquisitive one in the family. She was checking out the foliage at a friends house when she was stung by a bee. Ouch! She grimaced in some pain but shrugged off the late November oddity as we were on on our way to Stoneham, Colorado to deliver Dome, the Rotary exchange student, for a Thanksgiving weekend with some other Rotary exchange students.
Kim and Brian Larson were to meet us halfway for a drop of Dome, but we didn't make it to Stoneham, basically the big empty parking lot at the junction of Highway's 71 and 14.
As we were heading south towards our destination Veronica's stung hand was continuing to grow, and hives were breaking out on her arm. She wa s having an allergic reaction to the sting. Luckily the Kimball Health Center was open. Veronica was treated and released, but our scheduled delivery in Stoneham was instead in Kimball. Thanks to the Larson's as they drove a little bit further to pick-up Dome for a great weekend.. Thanks to the health professionals along the way and Thanks to my wife for the inspiration for a long overdue blog!
By the looks of things it promises to be a great holiday season.
After Nebraska was dismantled, 63-38, at Ohio State, Oct. 6, the Huskers reeled of six straight wins to capture the Legends Division of the Big Ten Conference. The Big Red had five come-from-behind wins in the conference. Now they get ready for the Wisconsin Badgers in the title game next Saturday in Indianapolis.
I don't like rematches. Even though the Huskers have run the table since the Ohio State game, and Wisconsin has been 4-2 in the same six-game stretch, I think Wisconsin may be the better team.
Their losses, going into the Penn State game Saturday, have come against Michigan State and Ohio State, both in overtime.
Don't be surprised if the Huskers lose Saturday. They put so much effort into running the table, as head coach Bo Pelini demanded, that there could be a letdown in Indy.
On the other hand they may be extremely motivated to continue the run that has brought them some national attention. Taylor Martinez will be in a dome and Rex Burkhead has returned. But who is going to stop Montee Ball?
Defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler is out with a knee injury suffered the in Iowa game. The Husker defense has improved down the stretch, but they still have a weakness up the middle an are short on depth. Bo's nephew did a fine job filling in at center after starter Jeremy Jackson went down in the first half, but Jackson is needed for the championship game.
Both teams are different than in the conference lid lifter over two months ago. I am going to say both are also better...and with revenge as a motivator I will take Wisconsin to win by 10.
I never thought Kansas State would climb to the top again. Bill Snyder is owed his due. He resurrected the Wildcat program once, and he is doing it again.
Once the worst program in the history of major college football the Wildcats are climbing the ladder of respectability. People say it is hard to recruit to Lincoln, Nebraska. Well, Manhattan, Kansas is a far cry from Lincoln. And unlike Lawrence, the home of the arch rival Jayhawks, Manhattan is not that close to Kansas City or any metro area. You have to tip your cap to Snyder for putting K-State on the map a second time. But I am not ready to put them in the BCS Championship Game this season.
They are third in my Barney Poll, and thanks to Ohio State being on probation, would be in the title game with Oregon, but Notre Dame, and even previously invincible Alabama, could have something to say about the ultimate participants.
1. Oregon, 10-0
2. Ohio State, 10-0
3. Kansas State, 10-0
4. Notre Dame, 10-0
5. Alabama, 9-2
6. LSU, 8-2
7. Georgia, 9-1
8. Florida, 9-1
9. Florida State, 9-1
10. Clemson, 9-1
11. Stanford, 8-2
12. South Carolina, 8-2
13. Texas A&M, 8-2
14. Oklahoma, 7-2
15. UCLA, 8-2
16. Nebraska, 8-2
17. Texas, 8-2
18. Louisville, 9-1
19. Oregon State, 7-2
20. Toledo, 9-1
21. Rutgers, 8-1
22. Louisiana Tech, 9-1
23. USC, 7-3
24. Michigan, 7-3
25. Northwestern, 7-3
Alabama showed why its the best team in the country with a great come-from-behind win at LSU Saturday night. Notre Dame showed us they may be a team of destiny. They pulled out a gutsy triple overtime win again Pittsburgh. Of the six unbeaten teams left in major college football they have been the least impressive, but there is the luck of the Irish you know.
There are still some big games to be played, so I think the logjam at the top will be cleared up. I like Alabama vs Oregon in the BCS title game. I think most people think that way but don't tell Bill Snyder at Kansas State or the folks at Louisville.
Unbeaten Ohio State is not in the mix because of probation, but how much difference does a head coach make? A lot. Urban Meyer has done a terrific job. With a similar team last season, the Buckeyes had a losing record.
Can Nebraska keep pulling out fourth quarter wins? The Huskers are living on the edge, but they are sitting 7-2, and thanks to the Buckeyes, the favorite to go to the Rose Bowl.
1. Alabama, 9-0
2. Oregon, 9-0
3. Ohio State, 10-0
4. Kansas State, 9-0
5. Louisville, 9-0
6. Notre Dame, 9-0
7. LSU, 7-2
8. Georgia, 8-1
9. Florida, 8-1
10. Florida State, 8-1
11. Oregon State, 7-1
12. Clemson, 8-1
13. Stanford, 7-2
14. South Carolina, 7-2
15. Oklahoma, 6-2
16. Texas A&M, 7-2
17. UCLA, 7-2
18. Nebraska, 7-2
19. Texas, 7-2
20. Mississippi State 7-2
21. Louisiana Tech, 8-1
22. Rutgers, 7-1
23. Toledo, 8-1
24. Northwestern, 7-2
25. Texas Tech 6-3
It might not be a good thing as we head into another week of college football. Nebraska has reappeared in the Barney Poll. Following a solid win against Michigan the Huskers are back in at number 22 this week.
It seems as if every time the Huskers make a move they struggle and drop out of the ratings the following week. That could be good news for Michigan State.
Oregon may be dropping in the BCS standings by they are still a solid number two behind Alabama in the Barney Poll.
1. Alabama, 8-0
2. Oregon, 8-0
3. Ohio State, 9-0
4. Kansas State, 8-0
5. Louisville, 8-0
6. Notre Dame, 8-0
7. LSU, 7-1
8. Georgia, 7-1
9. Florida, 7-1
10. Florida State, 8-1
11. Oregon State, 6-1
12. Clemson, 7-1
13. Mississippi State, 7-1
14. Boise State, 7-1
15. Stanford, 6-2
16. South Carolina, 7-2
17. Oklahoma, 5-2
18. Texas Tech, 6-2
19. Texas A&M, 6-2
20. USC, 6-2
21. UCLA, 6-2
22. Nebraska, 6-2
23. Texas, 6-2
24. West Virginia, 5-2
25. Rutgers, 7-1
It was a big Monday night. There was game seven of the National League Championship Series between St. Louis and San Francisco. There was also Monday Night Football with the Chicago Bears battling the Detroit Lions. And one must not forget the third Presidential debate.
My Cardinals looked like the Bad News Bears. So much of my attention turned to my real Bears play the Lions. However, I thought I better see how the President fared against Mr. Romney, so I watched enough to conclude President Obama won the third go-around.
The Presidential debates, I thought were a draw. Romney won the first. I called it draw with the town hall forum. Since I thought Obama won the final debate I know consider the Presidential race a toss-up. I initially thought Romney would win, but now I am not sure.
I thought the Cardinals would win the NLCS after going up 3- games-to-1. But watching the final three games it seemed as is the Cardinals didn't belong on the same field as the Giants. Momentum is huge in any sport. In can turn quickly, but it probably takes longer in baseball. Once you are out of rhythm trying to hit a baseball its tough to get it going again, and that certainly effects the rest of your game.
Body language by the Cardinals' players was not good. You could tell as soon as the Giants struck in the first inning the game was probably over. It certainly was after a big second inning.
Speaking of body language, kudos to the Scottsbluff High School volleyball team. Record wise it has been a struggle for the Cats this year. Monday's four-set loss to 15-10 North Platte dropped their record to 9-22. But coach Megan Burda has those girls playing hard. It's certainly fun to cover a winner like the Scottsbluff football team this season, but it's also fun to cover a group of kids that play hard and give it 110-percent like the Bearcat volleyball team. Way to go girls!
If you have been wondering about the latest Barney Poll. The top 25 football list has been done since late Saturday night. Oregon fans should love me. The Ducks have not dropped in my poll...and, of course, Alabama stays on top. What about the Huskers? No return yet.
1. Alabama, 7-0
2. Oregon, 7-0
3. Ohio State, 8-0
4. Florida, 7-0
5. Kansas State, 7-0
6. Louisville, 7-0
7. Notre Dame, 7-0
8. Oregon State, 6-0
9. LSU, 7-1
10. USC, 6-1
11. Oklahoma, 5-1
12. Florida State, 7-1
13. Georgia, 6-1
14. Clemson, 5-1
15. Mississippi State, 7-0
16. Rutgers, 7-0
17. Texas Tech, 6-1
18. Boise State, 6-1
19. Michigan, 5-2
20. Ohio, 7-0
21. Stanford, 5-2
22. Texas A&M, 5-2
23. Texas Tech, 5-2
24. South Carolina, 6-2
25. Toledo, 7-1
Momentum says the Giants will face Detroit in the World Series starting Wednesday in the National League city. A couple of days ago I was thinking my St. Louis Cardinals would be hosting, but Giants now appear to be the team of destiny. Down 2-0 in the NLDS to Cincinnati the Giants came back to win three in a row and move into the NLCS against the Cardinals.
Down 3-1 to St. Louis, San Francisco has proceeded to get two dominating wins against the Cardinals. Ryan Vogelsong had a career high in strike outs against St. Louis Sunday night.
I am old enough to remember the Kansas City Royals comeback against St. Louis in the 1985 World Series. The Cards were up 3-1 in that series only to lose in seven. The final two wins for Kansas City came at home. I was just a few rows up behind home plate watching the Cardinals get beat in game six. I returned for game seven...and it wasn't a game. I had two friends waiting for me at the Holiday Inn across from the ballpark. I left game seven early...and very dejected. I entered the lobby of the hotel and the young desk clerk noticed I was wearing Cardinals attire. She said she had something for me that might cheer me up.
It was a good thing I am pretty good natured. She handed me a St. Louis Cardinals World Champion T-shirt, exclaiming we don't need these anymore! I took one with a halfhearted smile and then met my friends for the long trip back to Kearney.
Disappointment over a lost baseball game didn't last too long. It never should. It's only a baseball game. But I still remember the t-shirt story. It still hangs in my sports room closet. A great story to tell as I deal with a similar Cardinal collapse. I need to remember. It's only a baseball game.
The Monument Marathon was an outstanding success Saturday. Over 400 runners registered for the half and full marathon. Most answered the bell and competed in cold and rainy conditions. Despite the less than ideal weather all of the competitors I heard from said the event was outstanding. Most of the runners mentioned the organization of the event as the number one plus. Way to go Dayle Wallein.
The executive director of the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation was the main organizer. She orchestrated hundreds of volunteers. The course was challenging but fair. Nobody got lost. There was plenty of drink and food along the course. And volunteers and supporters alike cheered the runners asthey completed their trek.
Employees of the timing company out of Boulder said it may have been the coldest marathon they have timed, but they certainly agreed with the competitors that it was well organized. They feel that it can continue to grow into an event that can have 1,500 to 2,000 runners annually.
For a small community Scottsbluff/Gering has many outstanding events that can shine amongst the best. I always start with the Sugar Valley Rally. It has withstood the test of time, and even though numbers have decreased some the last few years, the Rally still is a premier event. The Monument Marathon has a chance to be a standout event, like the Rally, for years to come.
What a seque into the Barney Poll for this week. The Marathon was a substitution for Husker football. The Marathon turned in a much better performance than the Huskers usually do!
Ohio State is probably not the third rated team in the country, but there are no style points awarded in the Barney Poll. It's a poll of natural progression. Only Alabama has not had to progress. They have been number one from the very beginning.
1. Alabama, 6-0
2. Oregon, 6-0
3. Ohio State, 7-0
4. Florida, 6-0
5. Kansas State, 6-0
6. Louisville, 6-0
7. Notre Dame, 6-0
8. Oregon State, 5-0
9. LSU, 6-1
10. South Carolina, 6-1
11. USC, 5-1
12. Oklahoma, 4-1
13. Florida State, 6-1
14. Georgia, 5-1
15. Clemson, 5-1
16. Mississippi State, 6-0
17. Rutgers, 6-0
18. Cincinnati, 5-0
19. TCU, 5-1
20. West Virginia, 5-1
21. Texas A&M, 5-1
22. Boise State, 5-1
23. Michigan, 4-2
24. Ohio, 7-0
25. Stanford, 4-2
It's not that Nebraska lost to Ohio State Saturday night in Columbus. It's how they lost, a blowout...again! It was an embarrassment for the Big Red, losing 63-38.
Running backs coach Ron Brown told me in an interview that the defenses in college football are being tested like never before. He said a 70-63 West Virginia vs Baylor score, though not commonplace, is not surprising.
Well, he must have known Saturday's game might have some fireworks. The Buckeyes jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on an interception return for a touchdown. It was just the beginning of a long night for Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez, but first he teased us with some outstanding play. Nebraska quickly rebounded from the early pic to take a 17-7 lead, but then the turnovers started and the Buckeyes struck often and quickly. It was still close at halftime, but it was not a ballgame at all in the second half.
What is the answer? I don't know, and I won't pretend to know. It boils down to better players and better execution. A trip to Northwestern is next on the agenda in two weeks. One only has to remember last year, a 28-25 loss in Lincoln, to know it won't be easy for the Huskers to rebound.
Now let's take a look at the Barney Poll...minus the Huskers.
1. Alabama, 5-0
2. Oregon, 6-0
3. South Carolina, 6-0
4. Ohio State, 6-0
5. Florida, 5-0
6. West Virginia, 5-0
7. Kansas State, 5-0
8. Louisville, 5-0
9. Notre Dame, 5-0
10. Oregon State, 4-0
11. LSU, 5-1
12. USC, 4-1
13. Oklahoma, 3-1
14. Florida State, 5-1
15. Georgia, 5-1
16. Clemson, 5-1
17. Texas, 4-1
18. Mississippi State, 5-0
19. Rutgers, 5-0
20. Stanford, 4-1
21. Cincinnati, 4-0
22. TCU, 4-1
23. Iowa State, 4-1
24. Boise State, 4-1
25. Louisiana Tech, 5-0
The Huskers looked bad on the big stage again, and the Cardinals loss the opening game of the NLDS to Washington. Despite two crucial losses by my favorite teams I still had a winning weekend.
My wife and I headed to Cheyenne Saturday. I had one goal in mind. Veronica may have had a different one, but what resulted was a great time. I made the right choice by turning my cell phone off and taping the Husker debacle as we headed to the Olivia Newton-John concert. I was glad Sunday I could fast forward through most of the second half!
I saw four other people from Scottsbluff at the concert. Two before and two after. All I saw were smiles. I discovered Olivia when she appeared on a game show. I don't remember the show, but I think Bill Cullen was the host. I remember him introducing Olivia saying she was an up and coming star from Austrailia. I was hooked before I ever became mellow.
In college I was in Las Vegas, but was leaving the day Olivia was arriving. Oh, so close. But, 33-years later I had the chance to see her perform and she did not disappoint. She may have celebrated her 64th birthday two weeks ago, but she is still an attractive lady. Her voice strength is not as good as in her younger years, but she still belted out a good selection of her hits. The sellout crowd seemed to be enamored with her performance.
Newton-John is a breast cancer survivor for 20-years, and she has had her share of other woes, including her boyfriend disappearing at sea on a fishing trip in 2005. She seems to be a strong lady, overcoming much personal grief, to entertain an adoring audience.
Speaking of the Cheyenne audience. I was probably younger than 60-percent of the crowd. My wife was probably younger than 90-percent. To see somebody my age carrying a Grease album under his arm was a little eerie, but I will admit I thought about taking one of my Olivia albums to the concert just in case she was going to sign autographs. I luckily decided against it.
It was an outstanding concert. I thought it was great. Veronica said it was good. She thought Olivia seemed tired at the start. I wouldn't disagree, but the energy was pretty good for most of the show. She said the Cheyenne stop would be her last concert for awhile. Who knows? It may be her last concert ever. I'm glad I was there, even though I missed the Huskers live. I am sure the Huskers took a page from Olivia's book on the way home to Lincoln. They were a little mellow!
I'm a huge Gering softball fan. Head coach Molly Bonuchi has done a terrific job with the Bulldogs. In her fourth year with the program she had guided the team to a 20-5 record and the top seed in the B-6 District Softball Tournament that starts Thursday in McCook.
A district championship will give Gering a new record for wins in a season. Their 20-5 mark is much better than host McCook's record of 16-15. The Bison are the second seeded team, but they may be considered the favorite to win the district championship on their home field.
They own a victory over the Bulldogs this season, 11-5 on September 20 in Ogallala. On that same afternoon two weeks ago fourth seeded Cozad also topped Gering 15-3. Gering beat the Haymakers earlier in the season 9-1, but coach Bonuchi said the doubleheader setback in Ogallala served as an eye opener for her ballclub.
Gering has plenty of talent, but have they really been tested this season. Softball in the panhandle has not been strong. Scottsbluff had a rebuilding season after last year's 26-9 run to the state tournament. The Bearcats finished 14-16. Gering went 5-0 against them. They were also 5-0 against Class C Chadron, who finished the regular season 8-17. Gering was 3-0 against a 1-21 Alliance team and they were also 3-0 against a 2-24 Class C Chase County squad. Seventeen of the team's 20 wins came against teams with a combined record of 35-99.
Cozad is a game under .500 entering district play. Gering beat two Class C teams with winning records, Blue Hill(12-11) and Gothenburg(22-5). Two of the team's losses came to a Holdrege team that finished 16-12.
With all of this said I am still taking Gering to win the B-6 District title. Jennifer Barge has shown me enough in the circle to convince me she the stuff to shutdown the district foes. They are solid up the middle with Jessica Rogers behind home plate, Shayla Garetto at second base Brooke Satur at shortstop and Isabel Thompson is center field. Thompson has the best bat spin at home plate I have ever seen!
The Bulldogs are well balanced with speed and power. Aubrey Gonzales is a fast as anybody. First baseman Brooke Doggett has been solid down the stretch. She was our KNEB Taco John's Player-of-the-Game in our last broadcast. Maggie Martin rounds out the infield at third.
Gering is very talented, but they need to raise the bar to win districts. I think they will do it. And they have to. They are 14th in power points in the Class B. It is a winner take all situation in McCook. No wild cards will be available. Good luck to the Bulldogs and Bearcats too.
Not all of the games were pretty, but all of the top ranked teams in the Barney Poll pretty much came through the weekend unscathed. No top ten teams lost. Only number 11 Stanford fell in the top twenty. Virginia Tech and Michigan State were in the final five and lost. Both of those teams drop out of the poll, while Stanford drops to number 23.
Washington, who pulled out a 17-13 win against the Cardinal Saturday moves into the 23rd slot, right ahead of Stanford and Texas Tech is in a number 25.
Nebraska's come-from-behind win against Wisconsin proved to be exciting, but I'm still not sure where the Huskers stand as a team. We will know more after the visit to Ohio State this Saturday night. The Buckeyes are making strides under Urban Meyer, but they may be the most overrated number eight team in the country. But Nebraska does not play well on the road so a win would be huge for Bo Pelini.
Bo is also downplaying his return to the Horseshoe where he played college ball, but you know it has to be a big moment for him, and I am sure his players don't want to let him down.
I'm leaning towards a Buckeyes win 24-21. I hope I am wrong.
1. Alabama, 5-0
2. LSU, 5-0
3. Florida State, 5-0
4. Oregon, 5-0
5. Georgia, 5-0
6. South Carolina, 5-0
7. Texas, 4-0
8. Ohio State, 5-0
9. TCU, 4-0
10. Florida, 4-0
11. USC, 3-1
12. Kansas State, 4-0
13. West Virginia, 4-0
14. Louisville, 5-0
15. Notre Dame, 4-0
16. Oklahoma, 2-1
17. Clemson, 4-1
18. Oregon State, 3-0
19. UCLA, 4-1
20. Nebraska, 4-1
21. Mississippi State, 4-0
22. Northwestern, 5-0
23. Washington, 3-1
24. Stanford, 3-1
25. Texas Tech, 4-0
It didn't look good early for the Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday night in Lincoln. It didn't look good midway through. And the start of the second half left one wondering whether the Huskers were going to get blown out for a second straight year by the Wisconsin Badgers.
One shouldn't worry right? The Huskers turned it on with 10:30 minutes to go in the third quarter. The offense executed. The defense dominated. And the Huskers overcame a 27-10 deficit to top Wisconsin 30-27 in both teams' Big Ten opener.
It marked the second largest comeback in Husker history, right behind last years come-from-behind win in Lincoln over Ohio State. The fifth largest crowd in Husker history were rockin' the house as Bo Pelini picked-up his biggest win yet as Nebraska coach.
Montee Ball's third touchdown of the game with 10:29 to go in the third quarter put Wisconsin up 27-10, but from that point on it was all Huskers.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez was fair in the first half, but picked it up in the second half, thanks to his legs. His 38-yard TD run with 8:56 to go in the third seemed to ignite the team on both sides of the ball. Just over five minutes later Martinez connected with tight end Kyler Reed on a 10-yard touchdown pass and all of a sudden NU was within a touchdown.
Nebraska completed its third quarter blitz with a 38-yard field goal by Brett Maher with :55 to go and Nebraska has tied the game. The winning points came with 9:41 to go in the game on a 41-yard field goal by Maher. One must not forget it takes a good hold on the kicks...Way to go Jase Dean!
Ball outscored Martinez three touchdowns to one, but Taylor outrushed Ball 116-to-81. Ball averaged 3.0 per carry, Martinez 8.9.
Now that the biggest game of the season is in the books, the next biggest game of the campaign is next Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. Bo Pelini returns to his alma mater to take on an unbeaten Buckeyes team under the direction of Urban Meyer. OSU held on for a big win at Michigan State Saturday, 17-16.
Last season the Huskers trailed Ohio State 27-6 in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium before rallying for a 34-27 win. This year it will probably be a battle between Nebraska's Martinez and Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller passed for a 179-yards and rushed for 130-yards more in the teams win against Michigan State.
I'm still not sure where Nebraska stands as a team. They have shown flashes. They have split, in two close decisions, their two major games this season. They did not play a full game in either one. If they can play a complete game at Ohio State they will win. If they get off to a slow start against the Buckeyes they could get routed. It will be much tougher on the road to mount the comeback we saw against Wisconsin.
Let's hope for a complete game win next week...and maybe black helmets again?
They certainly aren't dropping as fast as in the NFL, but the list of unbeaten's in major college football continues to dwindle. Oklahoma, Clemson, UCLA and Arizona were four of the latest this past weekend. Oklahoma had a mighty tumble from number three down to 17th, but only Arizona dropped out after the lost weekend.
Alabama and LSU remain first and second. You don't drop in my poll if you keep winning. LSU was less than spectacular in a 12-10 win over Auburn, but a win is a win.
Nebraska did not rise despite a 73-7 win against Idaho State. A win is indeed a win, but when it comes against a non-Division I foe you are not rewarded either.
Wisconsin, the Husker foe this Saturday night, stays outside the top 25 as they continue to struggle. So does Michigan State. They hold on to the 24th slot right ahead of new Barney member, Northwestern, at 25.
1. Alabama, 4-0
2. LSU, 4-0
3. Florida State, 4-0
4. Oregon, 4-0
5. Georgia, 4-0
6. South Carolina, 4-0
7. Texas, 3-0
8. Ohio State, 4-0
9. TCU, 3-0
10. Florida, 4-0
11. Stanford, 3-0
12. USC, 3-1
13. Kansas State, 4-0
14. West Virginia, 3-0
15. Louisville, 4-0
16. Notre Dame, 4-0
17. Oklahoma, 2-1
18. Clemson, 3-1
19. Oregon State, 2-0
20. UCLA, 3-1
21. Nebraska, 3-1
22. Mississippi State, 4-0
23. Virginia Tech, 3-1
24. Michigan State, 3-1
25. Northwestern, 4-0
What's wrong with the Huskers? I was thinking of using that title after the football game with UCLA, but it was rather obvious so I didn't. Now I am asking the question after a Husker volleyball loss to Penn State. It's not such an obvious answer. I'm not sure what's wrong with John Cook's team? But something is amiss. After sitting atop the national polls following an opening season win against then top ranked and defending national champ UCLA the Huskers were sailing along. They returned four All-Americans from last years team. People were thinking "special season". The coaches daughter, Lauren Cook, said the team had adopted the 'unfinished business" motto the football team used in 1994.
But now the team has lost two matches in a row. Iowa State knocked off the Huskers Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Christy Johnson Lynch, a former Husker All-American, is the coach of the Cyclones. She had beaten the Huskers once, but they were just 5-4 entering the Nebraska match. The Huskers don't lose to 5-4 teams.
Penn State is a national power. To lose to the Nittany Lions on the road is no disgrace, but coupled with the Iowa State loss it has me puzzled. What is wrong with the Huskers? In watching against Penn State, it looked as if the Huskers were confused. They seemed out of place on defense. The hosts, directed by former Husker assistant Russ Rose, always seemed to have the answer. They seemed to always be in the right place defensively.
Trailing 2-1, the Huskers jumped out to a 9-1 lead in set four. A national title contender does not lose a 9-1 lead. Nebraska is now a volleyball school, almost more than football, so a two match losing streak is big news.
They are staying back east for a Friday match at Ohio State. The Buckeyes are no slouches. The Huskers better get it figured out or me might have to pay more attention to football!
It seemed like everybody's pick to be in the national championship game, against either LSU or Alabama, this season was Southern California. You know, you just can't beat the talent level. Everybody wants to play for Lane Kiffin. The star quarterback forgoes the NFL draft to come back to settle "unfinished business". Well Matt Barkley will finish his USC career 0-4 against the Stanford Cardinal, and so much for the run to a national title, after a 21-14 setback to the Cardinal Saturday night.
There are still 10-games to play, and it seems like most everybody could lose a game or two along the way, but I love it when the national pundits gush and then are proven wrong. USC was the media darling. For that matter so was Michigan State. The so-called media experts said the Big Ten Conference has laid an egg this season(they are right about that), but they also said nobody could match-up with Michigan State. I didn't buy into them in the beginning because they have a freshman quarterback. They have very little offense and, while the defense is good, it's not great. Thus they are sitting with a loss.
The new media darling is now Notre Dame. I will predict Alabama and Notre Dame will be the main topic for the college football talking heads. Alabama has earned that right, Notre Dame hasn't, but they are the Irish.
Nobody is talking Nebraska. They were 25th in my Barney Poll last week. They are up to 21st this week.
1. Alabama, 3-0
2. LSU, 3-0
3. Oklahoma, 2-0
4. Florida State, 3-0
5. Oregon, 3-0
6. Georgia, 3-0
7. South Carolina, 3-0
8. Texas, 3-0
9. Ohio State, 3-0
10. TCU, 2-0
11. Clemson, 3-0
12. Florida, 3-0
13. Stanford, 3-0
14. USC, 2-1
15. Kansas State, 3-0
16. West Virginia, 2-0
17. Louisville, 3-0
18. UCLA, 3-0
19. Notre Dame, 3-0
20. Arizona, 3-0
21. Nebraska, 2-1
22. Mississippi State, 3-0
23. Virginia Tech, 2-1
24. Michigan State, 2-1
25. Boise State, 1-1
The Nebraska defense laid an egg at UCLA. Isn't that Bo Pelini's forte? The bottom line is UCLA should be pretty good under Jim Mora this year, and we continue to scratch our heads on why Bo's teams are so inconsistent.
Alabama certainly isn't under Nick Saban. The Tide remains number one in the third Barney Poll. The defending national champs have been there all along. I didn't fall in to the Oklahoma State trap. They have not appeared in a Barney Poll this season. I may have been right about them, but I may have been wrong not to buy in to Michigan State. Right now the Spartans are probably the top team in the Big Ten Conference, which isn't saying much, but the Spartans have climbed slowly in the Barney Poll.
1. Alabama, 2-0
2. LSU, 2-0
3. Oklahoma, 2-0
4. USC, 2-0
5. Florida State, 2-0
6. Oregon, 2-0
7. Georgia, 2-0
8. South Carolina, 2-0
9. Texas, 2-0
10. Ohio State, 2-0
11. TCU, 1-0
12. Clemson, 2-0
13. Virginia Tech, 2-0
14. Florida, 2-0
15. Kansas State, 2-0
16. West Virginia, 1-0
17. Louisville, 2-0
18. Michigan State, 2-0
19. Tennessee, 2-0
20. UCLA, 2-0
21. Notre Dame, 2-0
22. Arizona, 2-0
23. Stanford, 2-0
24. Boise State, 1-1
25. Nebraska, 1-1
From the high school ranks to the pros, it was an interesting football weekend. We continue to learn that Scottsbluff is a pretty good football team. They have the tools to be explosive, but it is defense that stirs the drink for the Bearcats so far.
Defensive back Luke Worden returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the 44-6 win over Holdrege. The Dusters scored on the final play of the game. It came against the reserves, but you know that left the Cats a little angry they didn't get their second shutout of the season.
They could be tested at Hastings Friday. The Tigers have scored a lot of points this season, but they were slowed down by a pretty good Alliance team this past weekend.
The Gering Bulldogs are full of fight! They answered the bell four different times in coming from behind for a win at Lexington Friday. Junior Dillon DeMott doesn't look like a quarterback, but looks can be deceiving. All the too-small to be a high school quarterback does is compete. At Lexington he threw for three touchdowns, including the game winner with :41 to go in the contest. With a game on the line, put Dillon on the top of my list for players wanted.
Gering will have its biggest challenge of the season with McCook coming to town Friday. Jimmie Rhodes and staff will have the Dogs ready.
On to Saturday we go. We learned that Nebraska still has a ways to go to be a national contender. It may start with speed. There is not much on the defense right now. They couldn't keep up with a much faster UCLA offense. UCLA also made better adjustments at halftime than Nebraska did. Taylor Martinez pretty much disappeared in the second half.
Does anybody else wonder about some of the second half play calling by the Huskers? I think Nebraska is still a good team. UCLA is better. What a difference a new coaching staff can make. Jim Mora, through two games, seems to be the answer for the Bruins. One must remember, though, it's a long season.
The Big Ten laid an egg over the weekend with the Huskers and Wisconsin both losing games to the Pac 12. How important was Russell Wilson to the Badgers? They have no offense. Even with running back Montee Ball they had just 35 net yards rushing against Oregon State.
On to the pros. So much for the young gun quarterbacks learning the ropes for a couple of seasons before breaking into the starting line-up. Robert Griffin III was sensational in leading the Redskins to an upset win at New Orleans. He'll take some lumps along the way, but his career is off to a great start. He looked like a seasoned pro. Andrew Luck got picked three times by the Bears, but I think he will be alright.
But if you can go with an established veteran do it. This guy named Manning looked pretty good for the Broncos. If Peyton can continue to win with Denver, and based on Sunday night, there is no reason not to believe he can't, he could go down as, if not the greatest NFL quarterback ever, he will go down as one of the greatest...and probably the smartest.
It's shaping up to be a fun football season.
There were only a few eyebrow raisers on week one of the college football season. A few of the top teams struggled, but many won by big margins against outmanned teams. Nebraska's lopsided win over Southern Miss was one of the impressive wins of the weekend. But none of the wins was more impressive than top ranked Alabama's 41-14 conquest of previously ranked No. 5 Michigan. I bought into the Wolverines and I'm not sure I should have. Is Alabama that good? Or is Michigan that bad? Probably a combination. I dropped Michigan and North Carolina State from the rankings this week, adding Michigan State and Tennessee. I should add Oklahoma State, but I refuse to add a team that beats Savannah State 84-0. Savannah State?
1. Alabama, 1-0
2. LSU, 1-0
3. Oklahoma, 1-0
4. USC, 1-0
5. Florida State, 1-0
6. Oregon, 1-0
7. Georgia, 1-0
8. South Carolina, 1-0
9. Texas, 1-0
10. Ohio State, 1-0
11. TCU, 0-0
12. Wisconsin, 1-0
13. Nebraska, 1-0
14. Clemson, 1-0
15. Virginia Tech, 1-0
16. Florida, 1-0
17. Kansas State, 1-0
18. Washington, 1-0
19. West Virginia, 1-0
20. Louisville, 1-0
21. Arkansas, 1-0
22. Michigan State, 1-0
23. Tennessee, 1-0
24. Auburn, 0-1
25. Boise State, 0-1
It wasn't perfect, but the Huskers' game one performance against Southern Missisippi Saturday afternoon in Lincoln was pretty darn good.
Southern Mississippi was a 12-2 team a year ago, so they weren't your typical game one slouch coming to town. They only returned four starters on defense and Nebraska rolled to 632 total yards of offense. Quarterback Taylor Martinez threw well, completing 26 of 34 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns. He looked confident and completed passes to 10 different receivers. The prospects have me excited, but it's only one game and I am a hard grader. I give the offense a B+.
The running game was solid with 278 yards compiled. Martinez' numbers would have probably been a little bit lower, and running game may have had more yards if Rex Burkhead wouldn't have left with an injury in the first quarter.
The senior had 68 yards rushing on just three carries, including a 57 yard touchdown run, but he sprained a knee ligament on the TD run. Head coach Bo Pelini says he is "day-to-day, week-to-week. I don't think its anything long-term. He'll be fine"
Step in Ameer Abdullah. The sophomore had 15 carries for 81 yards. Freshman Imani Cross looked good too. He had 11 carries for 62 yards.
The defense played pretty well. It gave up only three second half points. At times second string quarterback Anthony Alford gave them fits. He was the teams leading rusher with 84 yards. They missed a few tackles, and the defensive line speed concerns me. It it was later in the season, just like the offense, the defense may bet a better grade but for now it is a C+.
Special teams, meanwhile, need to stay after school. Kick coverage teams were below average and preseason All-American Brett Maher had an awful day. Two missed field goals and a shanked 21 yard punt won't get the job done most days. Special teams get a D-.
A saving grace for the special teams was #31, Jase Dean of Bridgeport. Dean was the holder for Maher. His holds were excellent. It's great to see that Dean will play an important roll on the team for his senior season. He has battled some injuries, but has battled through them and will become a four-time letterman for the Big Red Way to go Jase. He gets an A+, but he is guilty by association, and by job. He will have to stay after school with Maher! But I'm sure the latter will bounce back.
Overall I would give the Huskers a solid B- for game one. You might thing I am a hard grader, and my wife would agree(she doesn't let me help grade her students' papers anymore), but you have to keep the team hungry. And they have a big prime time game next week at UCLA
The stadium expansion on the East Stadium will be very imposing when it is completed next season. It will bring the stadium capacity to 92,000. There will be plenty of revenue generated from the new skyboxes. Tom and the gang have to continue to raise money to stay ahead in the arms race. They even have the game opening flyover sponsored now! That got an E for effort, but they arrived nearly two minutes after the National Anthem. Hey, it was only the first game of the year!
No more red balloons after the first Husker score of the game. Because of a helium shortage the tradition will be discontinued after Saturday. My Scottsbluff football color man, John Selzer, proudly announced during the big McCook win Friday that his grandma was one of the founders of that tradition. In her honor, for the first time ever, I let a balloon go Saturday. It is something special that will be missed.
Speaking of Scottsbluff, what an effort at McCook. They were dominating at times during their 17-7 win against the Bison. Despite being 0-2 McCook is a good team. I ran in to Bearcat coach Joe Benson at Target today. He had been working all day. The players had put in a practice. There is no rest when perfection is the goal.
Holdrege comes to town Friday. Scottsbluff, I am sure, remembers a 16-13 loss on the road to the Dusters last season.