11.02.2002

Texas 27, Nebraska 24

JUST DRINKIN' IN LINCOLN

"Lincoln, Nebraska ain't the last place on earth, but you can see it from there", or at least that's what "Mr. Helpful" behind the Hertz counter at the Kansas City airport said to us anyway. And with that and a case of Bud Light, we were off to see the home of the Cornhuskers. You can fly directly into Lincoln, but we chose to drive from KC and take the path less taken - unless of course you're a truck driver, Robert Frost or convinced you're on a crusade to find the lost city of BFE. That Rand McNally dude wasn't kidding, Nebraska, it's "cornographic" all right. And despite the monototonous view through the windshield, the drive only took a couple of hours and was rather uneventful with the exception of the mandatory pee break at Sapp Brothers, a truck stop in Nebraska City where you can get "gas, cigarettes and Saved by the Lord" according to the sign out front. Now that's what I call one stop shopping.

Friday nights in Lincoln aren't exactly what those in the know would call "off the hook", but the bars around campus are abundant and a lot of fun, at least until 1:00am anyway. One particular bar, the SideTrack Tavern, is quite popular with the younger crowd and those who think they're still a part of the younger crowd. I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, but if you can imagine what it would be like if the gang from "He-Haw" threw a rave, you wouldn't be too far off. It's located downtown in what looks to be an old, abandoned warehouse with Cornhusker memorabilia serving as wall paper and camouflage for a bunch of other stuff not worth mentioning. There are makeshift bars on 3 of the 4 walls, so there's no waiting for beer, which is nice. On the fourth side is a stage where local legends "Paul and Joyce" perform their own brand of music/comedy nightly. Joyce plays the electric keyboard and Paul joins in on guitar. From the looks of them, I'd say they've seen the other side of the 70's and might very well have served as inspiration for Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night." Needless to say, I've never seen a duo quite like them. They're a lot of fun and if your travels ever bring you to these parts, I recommend you stop by. Just get there early because the place fills up fast and it's not easy to move around once inside. Oh and the fact that they haven't mopped the floor since Tom Osborne quit doesn't help either.

Back to the hotel for a little shut eye, or so I thought. No sooner had I crashed with delusions of breaking home winning streaks, than I got a wake-up call from the front desk I most certainly did not request. What happened next isn't easy to explain, but in the interest of humiliating one of my best friends, I'm going to try anyway. After I picked up the phone on about the 50th ring, the front desk clerk, who could have been an "X File" in his own right, handed the phone to my buddy Clay (a former walk-on at Texas too, only he was 52b)and forced him to ask me permission to come back to the very room he had checked into only hours before. Evidentially Clay forgot to mention he was one of the "Children of the Corn", because unbeknownst to the rest of us, he got up in the middle of the night and started sleep walking around the hotel in just a pair of boxers. That's right, the former walk-on walked off. By the time he snapped out of it he was at the front desk (fortunately he missed the door to the indoor pool) where he could barely remember his name much less his room number. And seeing how Nebraska in November isn't exactly the best place to get left out in the cold, literally, we decided to let him back in. Weird stuff I know but you can't make this kind of shit up.

After Clay's adventure in the spirit world, daybreak couldn't come fast enough and since Barry's Bar on the corner of 9th and Q streets is considered by many as THE place to go before Cornhusker home games, we figured we better get there early, seven hours early to be exact. Hell, what else is there to do in Lincoln? Barry's sort of looks like a diner that was converted into a bar. There are booths all over the room and a short order kitchen in the back. I told the waitress there was an extra sawbuck in it for her if she'd say "54b, kiss my grits", but instead she just scowled at me and somehow I just knew I'd be drinking warm beer the rest of the day. So I decided to venture into the "cavernous" back room where they have a wall-sized projection screen TV and get this, kegs against every wall. You just walk up, hand the guy a fiver and he pours you a tall one. For a second there, I thought I was back at a high school party, but I didn't need a password to get in and the cops never showed up. What a great place. And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Major Applewhite showed up to do his radio show. Unfortunately, the place was so packed and loud, he wasn't taking questions from the crowd. Oh well, it's probably better that way. Considering the condition I was in at the time, I'm sure I would have asked him something stupid like "what ever happened to that football you tossed into the stands during the Kansas game last year." Well, it's a valid question in some circles, statistically speaking of course. On to...

THE GAME

Memorial Stadium in Lincoln is a fantastic place to watch a game and it's not just because the stadium is well designed and well maintained. In a word, it's the fans, they really make the experience both memorable and enjoyable. They show a lot of respect for the game, the teams and even the opposing fans. The Cornhusker faithful arrive early, wear tons of red and treat games on Saturday more like Sunday church services. Don't get me wrong, they still get loud and make it tough on opposing offenses, but you just don't see the public displays of rudeness and disrespect you see at other college football venues. As for the game, it was awesome. I really thought it was over when the Horns went up 27-17 with four minutes to play. But then Mack went and committed one of the cardinal sins of game management. Rather than kick deep and risk a long return, Brown elected to try and pinpoint the kick-off high and short to give the coverage team a better opportunity to get down the field and increase the chances of one of the slower players on the kick-off return team, who was in there for blocking purposes, of catching the ball. Instead, the Texas kicker flubbed the kick and Nebraska went to work on their own 45. Less than a minute later they were in the end zone and the tension really started to mount. After two running plays and two Nebraska time outs, Simms hit Roy Williams on a 10-yard out to seal the game. But stop the presses, out of no where, some official threw a flag for offensive pass interference. It wouldn't be college football if there wasn't some home cooking and bad calls happen all the time, but that was ridiculous and had massive implications concerning the outcome of the game. Texas was backed up and ran a quarterback sneak to run the clock down as far as they could. With 50 seconds left Texas punted and Unger misjudged the ball again coming too close to the return man drawing a halo infraction and what's worse, taking himself out of the play. Nebraska returned the ball inside the Texas 20 yard line, which was easily in field goal range. But with time left on the clock for a couple of plays, Solich decided to go for a touchdown. Later, many angry Nebraska fans would argue that he should have just kicked the ball and played for overtime. I disagree. He had plenty of time left on the clock to take a shot at the endzone and Nebraska had already missed two field goals earlier in the game, one of which was blocked. Husker QB Jamal Lord didn't throw a great ball, but give credit to Nathan Vasher for making an unbelievable interception to preserve the win. Not only did he catch the ball, but he did while falling out of bounds. I also want to give credit where credit is due – Greg Davis called a good game. Again, the running game was shut down and Davis went to the air and utilized the play-action pass allowing Simms to hit Ivan Williams several times out of the backfield. That simple bootleg pass play kept Nebraska's defense guessing the whole game and accounted for about a fourth of Texas' offense. Kudos to Simms too for having his best game by far with 419-yards passing. He probably secured himself as a 1st round NFL draft pick with that performance. The win wasn't pretty but as always, it's a win and I know everyone back in Texas will take it. What's more, with four more teams dropping out of the ranks of the undefeated, Texas kept their title hopes alive and opened the door slightly. There's a lot of football still to be played and it starts with the...

NEXT GAME

Not much to say about Baylor other than you might see a little more fire from the Bears this weekend in light of the recent firing of their coach Kevin Steele. Regardless, this one will probably be over before it starts and I bet we'll see a lot of Texas back-up personnel get in the game early, especially with many starters nursing injuries. No point in wasting your time with any further analysis, so on to the....

UNPREDICTABLE PREDICTION

Not being that familiar with Baylor, I decided to go to the Waco Chambers of Commerce web site, www.no-dancing.org. And after signing a petition to ban all copies of "Footloose" from Waco area Blockbusters, thus adding another degree of separation between Billy Graham and Kevin Bacon, I ventured over to the sports section, specifically the link titled "Baylor Bear Football." Unfortunately when I clicked on the site, an error message came up that read "Under new management, try back later." Sounds like bad news for the Bears to me. (UT 42, BU 3)

TAILGATE UPDATE w/ Nad E. Lite

The game (bear hunt) kicks off at 11:30am (got time for a nooner?), so expect the tailgate ("brew-ha-ha") to get going around 8am with Bloody Mary's (Dr. T's gets the women) mixed in with some Tequila Sunrises (swirls for the girls), Screwdrivers (needs more pulp) and the occasional breakfast taco (more charizo pleaso). Same place as always, San Jac and 18th (follow your liver, it always knows) and don't forget, contributions are always welcome (come early, be loud, donate).

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND

"We'll be at that bar called Barry's?"

"Where is that?"

"It's on the corner of 9th and Q."

"You got to love this town - all the streets going north and south are

numbered and all the streets going east and west are lettered."

"Yeah, it's like Sesame Street with beer."

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