And so it begins again.
The drive to the Capital City. The walk to the Stadium.
Touchdowns. Balloons. In that order.
Friends. Family. Food.
Big Red. Lil' Red. And all the Red in between.
Predictions. They're going 12-0. No way, they'll lose three again.
Excitement. Anxiety. Elation. All aboard the Roller Coaster.
Wouldn't miss it, would you?
Bo Pelini's on the hot seat. Leave the man alone. Let him coach. He's almost got 'em there.
Welcome back. To the Journey.
We do this every year. We've done this for decades. Devaney. Osborne. Gdowski. Ganz.
Pepper Rodgers. Barry Switzer. Pat Jones. Mike Leach.
Pat Fitzgerald. Kirk Ferentz.
Tank tops. Pullovers. Mittens.
Memorial Stadium. The Battleship. The Cathedral. Home.
Man, East Stadium is massive.
I can remember those old Mutual of Omaha scoreboards.
Good scores. Good times. Heartbreakers.
But we always came back.
Welcome back. To the Journey.
This is who we are. This is what we do.
Wisconsin can make you bury your face in your lap. But the Badgers can't cut out your heart. Can't break your will. Squash your hope.
Oklahoma tried. So did Miami. Florida State. Texas.
But you came back. Because it's about the Journey.
Taylor Martinez. Shy. Aloof. Off to himself.
Now look at him. Vocal. Leader. Comfortable. Smiling.
These kids mature at their own pace. Some are no-huddle. Some wait until there are a few seconds left on the clock.
That's the beauty of the Journey.
Pelini's sixth year. He has surrounded himself with an inexperienced staff. When is the efficiency coming? The signature win? The breakthrough title?
This is his year. No, you're wrong. He's never going to get there.
But you'll be back Saturday night, in person, in front of the tube, to find out.
What's that? You say you're done? Too much disappointment? Too many frustrations?
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Then find something else to do with your Saturdays. Go play golf. Lots of tee times available on fall Saturdays.
Leave us to our Saturdays, the best day of the week.
Ameer Abdullah, watch him go this year. You'll think he's shot out of a rocket.
What does Jamal Turner have in store for us?
It seems like every year there's a fresh face, a new star who busts on the scene, makes the world take notice.
Hello, Cethan Carter?
You don't suppose it could be a senior captain, do you? Watch Quincy Enunwa take the stage this year.
Taylor Martinez. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. What's he got for us this year? Don't head to the popcorn stand when the offense is out there.
Misty's. Lazlo's. Sandy's. Barry's.
Saturday morning, 10 a.m., O Street. Football on TV. Plastic cups. Red beer.
Husker Burgers. Runzas. Breakfast of champions.
Tailgating in the horseshoe. Front row to the East Stadium.
Bob Devaney Statue. Thank you very much.
Flat screens. Flatbed trucks.
Speaking of trucks, who's that No. 44? Does he have his own license plate?
The new kids on defense. Pick your breakout star. You probably won't be wrong.
Depth. Competition. Energy. New faces in new places, looking to make an impression, looking to win a job.
Speed. Honest mistakes. Passion. Growth. That's your 2013 defense, in a nutshell.
It may take that defense until November to figure out what it's going to be, and who's going to take it there.
Along the way, the spirit and enthusiasm of youth may create the tone and chemistry of this team.
Great teams, and special seasons, are always built on chemistry. I think this defense might create that chemistry.
I could be right, might be wrong.
Saturday night, I'm coming back to find out.
It's been 14 years since Nebraska won a conference championship. It's been forever since NU was on the national radar.
Will it ever happen again? Could happen this year.
Or will Nebraska be second fiddle to Ohio State and Michigan, relegated to “once in awhile” status?
What you know is that Nebraska is not going to cheat, oversign or cut corners in order to get there.
You ache to win big. You also want to do it right.
That's what you and I like about Nebraska football. The integrity part.
The get back up and try again part.
In the Deed the Glory. Words to live by.
All of the things we'll do Saturday, the family and old friends and new friends and the silly little important traditions each of us have.
Tom Osborne always said it was about the Journey, and he knew his constituency well.
Win a Rose Bowl or lose big to Wisconsin, you'll be back, back on 10th Street, back on Saturday, expecting big things, worrying about the things they don't do well.
And always hoping that this year is next year.
It's Saturday morning. Life is good.
The Journey is ready to begin.