Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who Are You and Why Do We Care: Nebraska Cornhuskers

(Aww, a bicycle built for two)

When did we see them last?
Last year was the first time Nebraska played Michigan as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The Cornhuskers entered The Big House with an 8-2 record. Midway through the first quarter, Denard Robinson threw a 46 yard pass to Roy Roundtree, then made a six yard pass to Jeremy Gallon for a touchdown. On Michigan's next possession, Brendan Gibbons hit a 42 yard field goal. Just four plays later, Nebraska was able to respond. Taylor Martinez hit Brandon Kinnie for a 54 yard reception and a touchdown. At the beginning of the second quarter, a Robinson interception by Terrence Moore was converted into a Cornhusker field goal, tying the game at 10.

That would be the last time the game was close. On Michigan's next possession, the Wolverines had a 12 play 74 yard drive for a touchdown. 10 of the plays were runs, including Denard's 14 yard touchdown. Matt Wile kicked off to start the second half, and Kenny Bell returned it 33 yards before fumbling, and giving the ball back to Michigan. Unlike the Cornhuskers, who earlier in the game only got a field goal off a turnover, Denard Robinson ran for a one yard touchdown giving the Wolverines a 24-10 lead. On their next possession, Nebraska was forced to punt. Josh Furman blocked the kick, and Michigan took over with the ball on the 50 yard line. Eight plays later, Fitzgerald Toussaint was in the endzone, and Michigan had a 31-10 lead. At the end of the third quarter, Ameer Abdullah would score on a three yard touchdown run to pull Nebraska within two scores. Michigan would respond with a 10 play 86 yard drive capped with a 38 yard touchdown reception by Martavious Odoms. On the ensuing kick off, Nebraska went with a different return man - this time Tim Marlowe - but he also fumbled the ball back to Michigan. Brendan Gibbons missed a 42 yard field goal. When Nebraska got the ball back, Taylor Martinez was sacked by Jake Ryan, and he fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Ryan Van Bergen. On the next play, Toussaint ran 31 yards for a touchdown, giving us our final score: 45-17.

Okay, where did the name Cornhusker come from?

The University of Nebraska was chartered in 1869. They started playing football in 1890. They tried out many team names before settling on the Cornhuskers: Bugeaters, Tree Planters, Nebraskans, The Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes, and Old Gold Knights. The University of Iowa was referred to as the Cornhuskers at the time, and Cy Sherman - a Lincoln sportswriter - liked the name and started calling Nebraska the same thing. Iowa chose Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers became the permanent name.

Yeesh, they've been in a lot of conferences haven't they?
From 1892 to 1897, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri were in the Western Interstate University Football Association (gee I wonder why that name didn't stick). Then those schools joined with Washington St. Louis to create the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907. In 1908, Drake and Iowa State joined, followed by Kansas State, Grinnell (WHO?!) Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado. The name changed to the Big Eight. In 1996, the state of Texas merged with the Big Eight to create the Big 12. Finally this past year, Nebraska decided they didn't want to be controlled by Texas, and became the twelfth member of the Big 10.

What do they look like?
Well, Wisconsin. They look a lot like Wisconsin. If there is something you can give the Cornhuskers credit for, it is sticking to tradition. They have looked the same foreverOh yeah, their official colors are Scarlet and Cream. This season the Cornhuskers wore these jerseys against Wisconsin. 

Have they won any Conference or National Championships?
Nebraska has five National Championship seasons. The first two were back to back in 1970 and 1971 under coach Tom Devaney. The next three were in 1994, 1995, and 1997 under Tom Osborne. If that 1997 number either confuses you or makes you angry, there is a reason. Michigan and Nebraska both went undefeated. Since there was no BCS at the time, and the Big Ten was tied to the Rose Bowl, Michigan did not get an opportunity to play Nebraska to see who the real champion would be. The only thing we can look at is similar opponents. Both teams played Colorado and Baylor. While Nebraska beat Colorado 27-24 and Baylor 49-21, Michigan won 27-3 and 38-3.

Do they have a good coach?
Their current coach is Bo Pelini, and I could not find a picture of him where he was a combination ofaware of the camera and happy (Maayybe this one). Although he is a ridiculous picture taker, he is actually a pretty good coach. He played Free Safety at Ohio State (So we should hate him) from 1987-1990. He was a starter for his last two seasons, and was a Captain for his senior year. Pelini went on to coach pretty much everywhere, with short stints at Iowa and Cardinal Mooney High School before jumping to the NFL to coach Defensive Backs and Linebackers for the 49ers, Patriots, and Packers. In 2003, he became the Nebraska Defensive Coordinator, and the next year jumped to Oklahoma, where he was Co-DC. Then he was hired by Les Miles to be the Defensive Coordinator at LSU, where they beat Ohio State in the National Championship (So we should hate him less?). After that game, Tom Osborne (who had just been named Interim Athletic Coordinator) hired Bo Pelini as Nebraska's new Head Coach. Since becoming the coach, Nebraska has gone 38-14 and won the North Division all three years he was in the Big 12.

Where do they play?
Nebraska plays at Memorial Stadium, not to be confused with Memorial Stadium or Memorial Stadium.Miscellaneous pictures of the stadium from a ton of angles. The stadium holds the current, ongoing, record for consecutive sell outs at 317. The 81,067 person capacity would make Memorial Stadium the third most populated city in the state of Nebraska.

What are some of their football traditions?

  • After the first touchdown is scored by the Cornhuskers, fans release red balloons into the sky. 
  • The Sea of Red: As Michigan fans, we know how difficult it is for everyone to wear Maize at home games, Nebraska does not have this problem with people wearing Red. They also hold up their shoes before Kick Off. 
  • Tunnel Walk: The Cornhuskers come out to the song Sirius by The Alan Parson's Project. The team exits the locker room, follows the coach to "The Big Red Carpet," touches a lucky horseshoe, then goes through the gates and onto the field. 
  • Blackshirts: In 1964, the first team Nebraska Defense started wearing Black Jerseys during practice. They had to return their black jerseys every day, since they may not be on the first team the next day, and they had to earn them back. This started a tradition that the black jerseys needed to be earned. 

Do they have a goofy mascot?
They have TWO goofy mascots!! Herbie Husker and Lil' Red. AND they have had more: Corn Cob and Mr. Cornhead (Super clever names). Herbie Husker first appeared on the cover of the 1974 Nebraska Media Guide, and he has had many different looks over the yearsLil' Red (the original Lil, I suppose Wayne,Kim, and Jon are posers) was created in 1993 after a state wide contest to create a new mascot. The body of the mascot is super light and the wearer needs to be strapped to a "powerbelt," which brings in outside air. I assume the powerbelt looks more like this than like this (Although 71% more calories?! AWESOME!!).  So since they have two mascots, they probably get to do awesome things like dance-offs right? Video? Yep...

Prediction based on everything but football: Nebraska 21 - Michigan 17. 

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