The game got out of hand early. The Cornhuskers 3-1 led 35-0 after the first quarter and 45-0 at half. Their 73 points were the most since they hung the same number on Kansas State in 2007.
The Huskers have a coach who may or may not have one foot in the grave, and they are a team that plays its best only when not pressured by a competent opponent. But at least they have not forgotten how to run up the score.
Barry Switzer used to spur his charges with the inelegant proposal that they “hang up half a hundred and party all night,” but that of course understates the great beatdowns in college football history. It used to be that such blowouts were a reliable marker of the pure genes of a good team. Nowadays, it is a sign that blood money was paid to an overmatched opponent. It is a sign, too, that college football’s heart is twisted.
The important thing here is Coach Bo Pelini did not need medical assistance, the Huskers themselves performed at least as well as they do at practice, and the star running back Rex Burkhead made a soft landing onto the playing field after a three-game absence with a never-specified injury.
In other words, things are about as they were before the game. It was a lot like the day itself, bright, pleasing and breezy. In the bargain, myopic Nebraska fans were able to recall the days when half-a-hundred victory margins were depressing de rigueur.
The tell-all stat: Fans were doing the wave 19 minutes into the game.
Wags were quick to harrumph that there was nothing to see here; that is the point of view we are choosing to adopt.
But it is worth noting that enthusiasm has returned to a preseason pitch. David McGee of Corn Nation, not long after saying as much, nudged the Huskers improbably to the top of his Big Ten rankings. “Call me a homer,” he notes apologetically.
Lost in the Huskers’ fumblings this season are those of their conference peers. Last season, it was the disparity between the struggling Huskers and the Big Ten’s better-than-average elite that was most noticeable; this season, the leading programs have seemingly regressed to the bean fields where Nebraska was quietly drinking a six-pack.
But does it merit such a lofty promotion? “They’ll get a chance to prove it over the next two games,” Mr. McGee writes.
The Huskers led 45-0 at halftime. They played 90 guys. They outgained the Bengals 569-210, notched eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss, had six scoring plays of 25 yards or longer and kicked eight touchbacks.
- Nebraska Is Clearly the Big Ten’s Best Team with Rex Burkhead Back in Action (bleacherreport.com)
- Huskers are battle-scarred but better (omaha.com)
- Huskers roll past Idaho State (nebraskaradionetwork.com)