1. A Mob of Nebraskans: The last previous time Nebraska’s football team played at Northwestern, one of the fans was Al Capone.
It was 1931, and Capone was three days from going to trial on charges of income tax-evasion. Associated Press reported Capone was greeted with “an intermittent chorus of throaty jeers and boos all during the game.”
Northwestern won, 19-7. Capone and his “associates” left at the end of the third quarter.
Had a mobster left at the end of the third quarter Saturday when the Cornhuskers returned to Evanston, he’d have missed a lot. Nebraska rallied from a 28-16 deficit for a 29-28 triumph. There were more red-clad Husker fans at the game than purple people repping Northwestern. It is 530 miles from Lincoln, Neb., to Ryan Field.
“Our crowd was big time here,” said Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini. “Our fans are different, they travel well. It felt like a home game here today, and our guys fed off that.’
2. Spartan Existence: Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State program had beaten Michigan four times in a row. Which was considered apocalyptic in Ann Arbor.
Finally, the Wolverines again beat their state-rivals, 12-10. It took a field goal with five seconds left to get the job done. Michigan isn’t back to being Michigan just yet.
MSU Coach Mark Dantonio, who has had a tough go of it with four losses in seven games this season, said this:
“It’s hard to take,” Dantonio said. “But it’s not the endgame here. And I’m really not trying to be controversial here, so please don’t take it like this. But – in a positive way – it’ll never be over. You know? And that’s the thing everybody needs to realize, for us to realize. That we’ll play again. We’ll play again”
Yes, the Spartans will play again. Starting with a game at Wisconsin Saturday. And they play Nebraska at home the week after that.
Michigan State was talking Rose Bowl not that many weeks ago. Now, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or Meineke Car Care Bowl seems more likely.
3. Good Enough to Lose: Indiana is 2-5, with five straight losses. The latest misery was Saturday, a 31-30 defeat at Navy decided by a short Navy TD pass with 2:02 left and the PAT kick.
In that 5-game stretch, the Hoosiers have losses by 1, 2, 3, and 4 points. They average 465 yards per game, but they don’t win. They had a 30-21 lead against Navy in the fourth quarter, but didn’t win.
“We hadn’t turned it over a lot,” said Indiana Coach Kevin Wilson. “We had as many turnovers today (two) that we had all year. We don’t have a lot of penalties. We’re not kicking it horribly. So even though we haven’t won, we’re doing a lot of things that winning teams do.
“We’ve got a good team; let’s act like it. Let’s be calm and have some composure.”
Good teams beat Navy.
4. Poor team playing “Greatest Game”: Here’s how not to ride the momentum of a national championship from two years ago: Be 0-5 in your conference.
That’s Auburn in the SEC in 2012, less than two years after it defeated Oregon in the national-championship game and fresh off a 17-13 loss at Vanderbilt.
Gene Chizik’s Tigers are 1-6, and the win was in overtime over Louisiana Monroe. They home games upcoming against New Mexico State and Alabama A&M before this season is over, so a 1-11 record seems out of the question.
But with Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama also remaining? From 14-0 in 2010 to 3-9 in 2012 is a distinct possibility.
Auburn is 1-6 for the first time since 1952. It hasn’t gone winless in the SEC since 1980.
Chizik said this about his players after the loss at Vanderbilt, which is 2-3 in the SEC and hasn’t had a winning record in conference play since 1982.
“They’ve got to love the game, they’ve got to love Auburn, and they’ve got to love playing college football, the greatest game on the planet.”
I’ve heard football people call their game the greatest. I’ve heard the same from baseball people, soccer people, golf people. Why do they all think they’re right? And what does it even matter if their game is the best? If they get satisfaction from it, isn’t that enough?
And if college football is the greatest game on the planet, why is that nearly every other nation but the U.S. doesn’t feature it to any significant degree? Is the entire rest of the world blind to college football’s wonders? Or is it possible that most of the world thinks college athletics as it is structured in the U.S. is slightly ridiculous?