It’s only four years until the Oklahoma-Nebraska series resumes.
The Sooners have until then to enjoy the high life in the top 10 before it all bottoms out.
I’m not saying there is a Nebraska jinx. But there is something crazy going on with NU’s schedule. It’s a little weird.
Several years ago, Nebraska officials got Miami (Florida) on the calendar for 2014-15 and most of us thought, “Cool, a trip to South Beach.” Then, we thought, “Just what the Huskers need to boost their national profile.”
And then we actually got to 2014 and 2015, and the Hurricanes were not ranked in either game. Last year, neither UM nor NU was ranked when they played.
Which leads me to this year’s “special” game with the Oregon Ducks.
Dare I say, the “wounded” Ducks?
Two years ago, first-year coach Mark Helfrich looked like the latest genius off the assembly line as he (and Scott Frost) had the Ducks in the first College Football Playoff championship game.
Last year, Oregon began the season ranked fifth (coaches) and seventh (AP) in the polls. After a 9-4 season, they finished the year ranked 20th and 19th.
Is the Duck Dynasty over? Or on hold? On Sunday, Oregon popped up at No. 24 in the preseason AP poll, to go with No. 22 in the first coaches poll.
That’s the first time since 2008 that Oregon hasn’t started in the top 20.
Ratings are what they are. These are based largely on Oregon breaking in two new coordinators, looking unsettled at quarterback and the general questions in Eugene and around the nation about Helfrich — who is just two years removed from that national title game.
The good folks of Nebraska would be wise not to write off Oregon as a fad going away. The Ducks still pack a punch and, given NU’s fragile defensive line, this won’t be easy.
But for those chasing relevance for NU football, it’s not a game against a top-10 opponent, either.
That’s OK. If Nebraska can find a way to win this one, it will more than count. Oregon football is a national brand now, still very much relevant in name power, and a W would go a long way toward making Huskerland feel good about the direction of things.
But, you have to admit, the timing of Oregon’s tumble to No. 24 is a little weird — after Miami — and not something anyone at Nebraska counted on when it was scheduled.
Given some of the question marks in Husker camp, nobody’s complaining.
» Speaking of polls, my friend Rick Bozich, columnist and reporter for station WDRB in Louisville, recently wrote about the feedback he used to get every year as a voter in the AP poll. He said he once received a Nebraska Cornhuskers thermos from a Husker fan “determined to help me love the Huskers.”
I don’t think it worked. But Rick is a big fan of the College World Series.
» While Connecticut officials are waiting by the phone for the Big 12 to call, the Big East athletic directors should start knocking on their door. Get the Huskies to drop football to the FCS level and come back to the Big East, where UConn belongs.
» I see you, UNO men’s soccer, beating Marquette 2-1 in an exhibition. Mavs are at Creighton on Labor Day night.
» I’m hearing that UNO men’s hoops is putting together a road swing through Iowa in December that would include games at Iowa and Iowa State. Mav hoops should be fun this year.
» There are all sorts of signs of optimism for a K.C. Royals playoff push, most notably the emergence of Danny Duffy and his sidekick, the Rally Mantis. But here’s the No. 1 reason for optimism for K.C.: The Royals have six games left with the Twins.
» I don’t get the calls for Jim Harbaugh to “start winning.” I know the Michigan Man wears a lot of folks thin, with a personality that does not invite a lot of slack. But he went 10-3 last year with a blowout of Florida in the bowl — and would have won 11 if the punter catches a snap. And he didn’t exactly have his quarterback.
» Andrew White III is still looking for a spot to land. Next up: the New York Knicks.
» White reportedly is down to Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth — VCU is located in White’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia. And I know what you’re thinking:
If he ends up at VCU, is that really a better option to showcase his game than Nebraska?
Could White still come back to NU at this point? You’d take him back, right?
» The national media came to Lincoln last Friday, and NU linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey told Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated and SiriusXM radio about a “huge team fight” (or argument) in the Husker locker room before the bowl trip last year.
“It felt like everything in the whole season was in there for a good three or four minutes,” Rose-Ivey said. “The funny thing is, Coach Riley usually tries to break up fights. He just let it go. It was just kind of one of those big relief things. Everybody got everything off their chests.”
Then they hugged it out against UCLA.
» Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt? Why do I have to pick? Maybe we should have them play pingpong to see who is the best Olympian of all time.
Greatest swimmer, fastest runner and most decorated work as titles, too.
For my money, there was never an Olympian like Jesse Owens in Berlin. Unless it was Jim Thorpe.
» Old friend Bill Bryant, son of the late, great “Fox” Bryant, just gave me a reason to come to Lincoln on Sept. 16 (the Friday night before the Oregon game): He’s going to auction off a bunch of his dad’s great Husker collection.
Say, 500 to 600 items.
The auction will take place at Sesostris Shrine Temple in Lincoln, from 6-10 p.m. Bryant says 250 lots will be auctioned off.
You could do a Nebraska sports hall of fame with the treasures in the Fox collection.
» One more and I’m outta here: Astute reader Michael Getty said he heard a pundit recently talk about a making a permanent, “non-corrupt” site for the Olympic Games. And he wondered if that site should be Omaha.
You said non-corrupt, right Michael?
Kidding. But it brings to mind an old column I did back at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona: What if the Olympics were held in Nebraska? Where would they go?
Let’s update the list, including Lincoln:
Swimming: Duh. CenturyLink Center.
Basketball: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln.
Gymnastics: Baxter Arena.
Volleyball: Devaney Center.
Beach volleyball: Auction off to local bar with most sand courts.
Track: Burke High School.
Boxing: Ralston Arena.
Canoe: Platte River.
Diving: Devaney Center pool.
Fencing: Clear out a street in the Old Market.
Rowing: Missouri River.
Soccer: Morrison Stadium.
Table tennis: Auction off to fan with biggest man cave.
Weightlifting: Tom and Nancy Osborne Complex.
Wrestling: Sapp Fieldhouse.
Shooting: I’m putting the Stepp dads and sons from Wolbach, Nebraska, in charge.