Remember that signature win over the Oregon Ducks? You know, the one that had everyone on the sideline jumping up and down, ecstatic over dropping the Quack Attack?
At this point, you should have a question of your own: “Which one?”
Yes, Nebraska knocked off Oregon in a game that will never be forgotten among Husker circles, but just as the Ducks fell short on the field and tumbled out of the Top 25, they took another fall.
Colorado stepped into what was once a feared road atmosphere. Autzen Stadium used to be filled to the brim with rabid fans that made it a hellish nightmare of a place to call audibles. The Buffaloes went the distance with the Ducks. They also left Eugene victorious.
This leaves Average Joe Husker Fan questioning whether or not that win over the then-No. 22 team in the country was really that meaningful.
Oregon and Nebraska stepped onto the football field on Sept. 17 with two purposes: winning, and finding out just what kind of a season 2016 was going to be. This is important to remember, because in the Ducks’ next game against Colorado, it was about more than just finding out who they are. It was about trying to simply build confidence.
Don’t get me wrong, Colorado looks like a quality team this year and may very well be on an upward trend (put a pin in that, we’ll come back to it). The Buffaloes wanted the same thing Nebraska did. Not only did they want to see if they could match up to the alleged speediest team in the Pac-12, but if they could do it in the Ducks’ own backyard.
The end result had Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich answering more questions about why another team edged his once the game clock struck all zeroes.
I’ve been asked if Nebraska wants the Ducks to pile up losses for the sake of recruiting or to keep winning for the benefit of the win’s significance. I think the Ducks will be okay in terms of record. I sincerely mean “okay” as in so-so ever since Chip Kelly skipped town. By no means do Big Red fans want to root against Oregon, however.
Not only might it be in every Nebraska fan’s best interest to hope the Ducks can bounce back this season; it might be best to hope they rebound in impressive fashion come 2017.
The Huskers travel to Autzen next year. However, with a sellout streak that ended in week one of this season; Helfrich’s teams not quite having the gas that Oregon has been known for; and factoring in standard Big Red travel plans, I can’t say for certain if The Pond will be all that intimidating.
In fact, I dare say Nebraska will simply have the better team. Keep in mind that the Huskers are still a very young squad getting another year of experience. They’re also undefeated and ranked No. 15 in the nation. Finally, there’s the very significant factor of Tanner Lee, a quarterback that was practically custom made for Mike Riley’s and Danny Langsdorf’s offensive system. He’ll be taking over for Tommy Armstrong.
No, the win over Oregon isn’t tainted by the Ducks’ loss to the Buffs, but Phil Knight’s Technicolor Dreamcoats need to right the ship in a hurry.
Bringing Colorado back into the conversation for a moment, Nebraska starts up a series with the Buffs in 2018. The scheduling gods might not have planned this any better for the Huskers. I can’t see Oregon keeping Helfrich another two years at this rate, and Colorado may actually be a Pac-12 contender for a while.
Obviously, it’s early and we’ll determine just where The Centennial State Stampeders end up in terms of strength and record in due time.
When it comes to the Ducks, Nebraska got them at just the right time. The smoke that’s starting to billow out of the shiny complex nestled in Eugene says that it’s time to sell the stock you may have in Oregon… and soon.