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That Guy's Wearing Red, Too!

Exploring the State of Nebraska and its unique football tradition

Double Dog Duty

It was an important game for the Huskers yesterday when they took on the undefeated Iowa team, and in recognition of the occasion Lily the mini Husker Hound enlisted the support of her cousin Jasmine to support the Big Red. Displaying fabulous team spirit with their matching Nebraska scarves, they warmed up for the game by tussling in a lively red-white scrimmage that was only halted when my wife intervened with dog treats.

The atmosphere at Player's Sports Grill was similarly spirited as we joined a group of Californians for Nebraska to watch the game. I could not help but feel sorry for the sole Hawkeyes fan in attendance who sat gamely at a table on his own amidst the sea of red. I managed to meet many of the Big Red fans, including one gentleman originally from Beatrice who reported that he misses the changes of season from his home town, including the winter. He and my wife are not quite on the same page with that sentiment, to put it mildly. While she has fond memories of Fall and Spring in Omaha, she has no desire to endure another Winter on the prairie with its accompanying boots, gloves, scarves and flat car batteries.

After the game began, Iowa scored first and their lone supporter cheered bravely in the midst of the deafening silence from the red-clad crowd. I regret not having taken the opportunity to talk with this brave soul who was carrying the flag for his alma mater in the hinterlands of Orange County, California, because he left before the end of the second quarter. I would have liked to hear his perspective on the many years of cross-border rivalry and also congratulate him on his pluck in wading into a sea of red to support his Hawkeyes.

As usual the Nebraska crowd was very good-natured while they supported their boys. Dirk's humorous comments provided much entertainment on one side of the room, with my favorite comment of his arriving after a muffed punt return by the "Iowegians" as he called them. "I love a good muff!" he cried, much to the amusement of the crowd.

For better or worse, the game itself was in many ways a microcosm of the Huskers' season. Flashes of brilliance were interspersed with penalties that should have been avoided and errant passes that either fell incomplete or were intercepted. The one source of stability amidst the maelstrom was the generally solid performance of the Blackshirts defense. The undefeated Iowegians (I love that term) were held to three-and-out in several critical situations that gave the ball back to the offense with the opportunity to stay in the game. Just as they have done all year, the Nebraska players never gave up and fought hard throughout, but in the end 8 penalties for 95 yards and 4 interceptions were too much to overcome and the game was lost by a mere 8 points.

The regular season thus ends with a 5-7 record, but it is worth remembering that most of those lost games went down to the final play of the game and the average losing margin throughout the seven losses was a mere 4.4 points. But for some bad luck in some crucial situations, the Big Red could have easily won 7 or 8 games.

While this was not the season that most Nebraska fans hoped for, there is much to look forward to for next year. Lily and Jasmine are already in training to provide dogged and loyal support.

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