No team will always have a perfect game. They will emerge every now and then, those perfect fall afternoons when the offense fires on all cylinders and the defense locks down the opposition, but those are the exceptions.
Saturday was not an exception for Nebraska.
The day began with the Huskers being taunted by the ESPN GameDay crew, complete with Kirk Herbstreit’s pick of Nebraska over Indiana with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
“I didn’t really say anything,” junior cornerback Chris Jones said after the game.
“I took it in silence as disrespect. Disrespect to me, disrespect to this team, disrespect to these coaches. We worked hard to get where we’re at right now. I took it as a chip on my shoulder to prove nationally that we’re not a team to play with this year.”
The Huskers then raced to a 17-0 lead over the Hoosiers. It was at that point Mark Banker’s Blackshirts had to step up and earn their scholarships more than ever before.
They most certainly did.
Jones bolted for a pick-six to tie Nebraska’s interception total for all of 2015. Safety Aaron Williams’ fourth-quarter interception bested it and sealed the game. The Hoosiers did have the second-best day of the season for any opponent of the Husker secondary, but they garnered only 88 yards on the ground.
Indiana did its best to crawl back into the game. The Hoosiers found their way onto the scoreboard courtesy of a blocked punt before managing a pair of field goals. The contest became frighteningly close for Husker fans when Indiana’s Devine Redding made his highlight play of the day: a 33-yard run to bring the deficit to 17-15 in favor of the Big Red.
Then came the pivotal fourth quarter. This is when Nebraska is supposed to shine the brightest, right?
A 72-yard touchdown pass from (what appeared to be) a somewhat hobbled Tommy Armstrong to Stanley Morgan Jr. stretched the lead again, but in only 91 seconds, Indiana responded with seven points of its own.
Drew Brown’s 39-yard field goal would prove to be significant — providing the final score in a 27-22 win — but it almost didn’t have the opportunity to be.
As the Huskers drove down the field with Terrell Newby toting the rock — much as he did versus Illinois two weeks ago — there were questions about whether or not his knee hit the ground causing a fumble. Newby was ruled down.
“We finally got a call,” Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said in the postgame press conference. “We didn’t get many of them tonight.”
That’s about as close to blaming the refs as Riley will ever get. I don’t like to take that route either. However, when Nebraska piles up nine flags while Indiana only has one to its name (following two blocks in the back on a return, and a holding call so blatant I could award two points for a takedown), it’s hard to ignore the issue.
Regardless, thanks to a Herculean effort by the Blackshirts against Indiana, Nebraska is 6-0 for the first time since 2001 and might burrow a bit deeper into the Top 10 as a result.
To all of those Husker fans out there who are so excited that they don’t know what to do with their hands, I do have one suggestion.
Throw up the bones, baby. Throw up the bones.