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This season is for the fans. So let the fans suit up.
Think about it. In Manhattan, Kan., under the ESPN Thursday night lights, Husker fans don white helmets and red jerseys while the purple people put on their armor. Then they whale at each other for 60 minutes, in a message board-comes-to-life scene. That would be great fun.
Then, repeat the exercise in Ames, Iowa, and when Missouri comes to Lincoln. Texas fans vs. Nebraska fans? Oh, the joy.
That won’t happen, of course. But this would be the year to do it. This will be a football season like none other at NU, or anywhere else where folks still claim the Big 12. The Big Red is saying goodbye. A lot of people are mad about it. The Huskers will run into angry mobs on the road. Bo Pelini and the players will be asked about it a ton. That will be the week-to-week narrative of this season.
How does it impact things? It shouldn’t. Fans and media care more about the emotions than the coaches and players, who are focused merely on the simple matter at hand and not how it affects bragging rights on the web or in the stands.
That’s what makes this Nebraska season harder to predict than usual. Will Jack Trice Field be a romping, stomping snake pit? Will Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert want to stick it to Jared Crick for going to the Big Ten? Probably not. But you don’t know. That variable — along with the usual questions like whether NU has one quarterback, never mind three, or if Crick is a leading man or a sidekick — makes this year’s predictions task more of a mine field than usual.
Once again, here goes nothing:
Zac Lee gets the starting nod at Nebraska. Taylor Martinez plays a third-down utility role, but also gets mop-up time against Western Kentucky and Idaho. By the end of the Idaho game, Husker fans are calling for Martinez to start.
Doesn’t happen. Lee emerges as a play-making leader, not merely a facilitator. It’s one of the early surprises of this season. On Sept. 18 next to Lake Washington, Lee has his breakthrough game — on the same field that a kid named Scott Frost did 13 years ago.
Nebraska 28, Washington 24. That’s a 3-0 start.
Boise State beats Virginia Tech 21-17 on Labor Day Night. The next day, the BCS announces that you must win each game by 10 points or more to make the BCS title game.
Ohio State 31, Miami 21. ESPN announces Terrelle Pryor wins the Heisman Trophy — er, is the leading candidate.
On a wild and crazy night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State upsets the turnover-plagued Huskers 24-21. Snyder declares it “the greatest victory in the second act of the great turnaround in college football history.’’ Bo Pelini makes his team walk home.
Joe Paterno opens twitter account.
Oklahoma beats Texas 31-24. Longhorns Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds says OU now will get only $15 million next year.
On the eve of their larger-than-life game, UT coach Mack Brown says Nebraska fans are the classiest in the nation.
Nebraska sacks Gilbert four times, and Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead run wild as NU beats the Longhorns 31-17. Afterward, Husker fans give the Horns a golf clap. Brown says Nebraska has the classiest fans in the Big Ten.
The Huskers survive the hangover trip to Eskimo Joe’s. Oklahoma State starts the Big 12 race at 0-3. Boone Pickens gets Mike Leach’s cell phone number.
Blaine Gabbert survives this Nebraska game. Missouri doesn’t. The Huskers outduel Gabbert 28-21 in another NU-MU classic, the last one.
Ricky Stanzi throws for 220 yards as the Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin 24-10 and stay undefeated.
The Cyclones limp into the Nebraska game at 3-6. Jack Trice Stadium is full — thanks to Nebraska fans. No eight turnovers this game. NU 35, ISU 14.
Turner Gill tells the Nebraska media how great it is to be back in Lincoln. Then the Nebraska-Kansas game starts.
Pryor and Stanzi stage a dramatic battle of Heisman-esque proportions at Kinnick Stadium. Stanzi leads Iowa on a late touchdown drive, but Pryor answers by taking the Bucks to a game-winning field goal. Ohio State, with an earlier loss at Wisconsin, still heads to the Rose Bowl. This game seals the Heisman for Pryor.
Nebraska can’t corral Jerrod Johnson and loses to the Aggies. Mike Sherman saves his job.
NU beats Colorado in an emotional finale with former Huskers and Buffs watching on the sidelines. After the game, CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn offers to bring the Buffs back to Lincoln every year for $1.5 million a game.
Joe Paterno announces his retirement on twitter. Bobby Bowden retweets it.
In a classic, fitting final Big 12 championship game, Oklahoma rallies in the fourth quarter to beat Nebraska 28-27. Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer hug.
Nebraska (10-3) accepts a bid from the Fiesta Bowl, which will stage a Big Ten rivalry game with Iowa. The game is sold out in 15 minutes.
Oklahoma gets revenge on Boise State, 35-24, in the BCS national championship game in Glendale, Ariz.
Nebraska beats Iowa as the Blackshirts smother Stanzi’s black jersey. Iowa fans tell Husker fans, “See you next year in Iowa City.’’ Stanzi says, “Big Ten, love it or leave it.’’ Bo Pelini says, “We love it.’’
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