Should We Pity Poor, Winless Nebraska?

Nebraska Coach Scott Frost
Despite the Historic 0-6 Start, Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost Should Keep Looking Up

The  University of Nebraska was once a college football power.  Under Tom Osborne from 1973 to 1997, the Cornhuskers went an astounding 255 – 49–3,  for a winning percentage of 0.836. Osborne subsequently became Nebraska’s longest-tenured coach, ending with the fourth-highest winning percentage in major college football history. Osborne never won fewer than nine games and secured 13 conference titles in his 25 seasons. And for those interested in ancient college football history, before Osborne, there was head coach Bob Devaney.

Bob Devaney lead Nebraska to a 101–20–2 record, with a 0.829 winning percentage from 1962 to 1972.  Delaney brought about an immediate turnaround in the fortunes of Nebraska football. He led Nebraska to a 9–2 record in his first season, which was capped by the school’s first bowl win, against Miami in the 1962 Gotham Bowl.  Wow. Talk about winners. Nebraska could surely use Osborne or Devaney right about now.

Now, the once mighty and proud Nebraska football program has fallen on hard times. Most recently, The Cornhuskers blew a ten point margin and fell to Northwestern, 34 -21, after having a 31-21 fourth quarter lead. A Northwestern field goal cut the lead to 31-24 with about two minutes left in the game. Northwestern would then get the ball back and marched 99 yards with zero time-outs for a game tying touchdown that sent it to overtime. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable, especially for a team that was 0 -5 and searching desperately for its first win.

In that oh so painful loss to Northwestern, Nebraska had the ball first in the extra period. The drive came to a fourth and one, and then a nightmare for Huskers fans. A botched snap and QB Martinez was forced to scramble; he launched one for the endzone and it was intercepted. Northwestern got the ball and got into position to allow kicker Drew Lauckenbaugh to make a 37 yard field goal to give Northwestern the stunning 34-31 win.

Last week, after Nebraska lost to Michigan, Head coach Scott Frost told his players in the locker room at Michigan Stadium that “things can’t get any worse”, and their 56-10 loss to No. 19 Michigan could serve as a “watershed moment” for the program in its first year with a new coaching staff. When they were 0 -5, the Nebraska coach believed that the Cornhuskers had reached the bottom.

But then the bottom fell out, and they lost this heartbreaker to Northwestern to fall fo 0 – 6 for the first time in school history. It’s the worst start EVER for this storied football program.

Incredible. Just incredible. So, are we to feel sorry and compassionate for the Cornhuskers? Some say yes, but most, I surmise, would say no. They had their heyday, and now the mantle for winning big in college football has moved on the Southeastern Conference. The SEC touts such powerhouse schools such as Alabama, LSU, Florida and Georgia, just to name a few.  Ohio State and Michigan, two bragadocious, Big Ten schools, are still powers, so why not Nebraska? It’s a thousand things, none of which can be fixed in an instant. 

So let’s encourage Nebraska.  And let’s encourage all of our friends who are going through a tough time. Things will get better. Things HAVE to get better, right? They have to; they just have to.  Becasue life is like sports and sports are like life.  Trouble don’t last always. 

And always remenber; “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

 

You Can Still Win, Even After All of Your Mistakes: Ohio State 39 – Penn State 38

 urban myer

Penn State led by 18 points TWICE and still lost. They took advantage of early Ohio State mistakes and miscues and built leads that were seemingly insurmountable. But Penn State forgot one thing; Ohio State was playing at the Horseshoe, defending their home turf in front of  109,302 raucous, rabid fans. And Ohio State remembered one thing; they remembered that you can still win after dropped passes and missed tackles and stupid penalties and untimely turnovers.  You can still win. You can come back from way back despite the darkness of your dilemma or the depth of your despair.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer surely couldn’t believe his eyes as his special teams play was less than special, giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff.   But Urban was equally incredulous after the game, becasue even after all of his team’s mistakes, they still won. So he is pointing right at you because you can still win, too. Coach Meyer knows this becasue he himself overcame heartache and almost heartbreak as he somehow, someway, coached his boys to a marvelous and miraculous come from behind win.

And you can still lose even with a big lead and a comfortable cushion. Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley  just learned that the hard way. In spite of how wonderful you think you are and how marvelous things seem to be at present, everything can unravel, quickly. Everything can come crashing down and it can all smash to pieces and all can fall apart in the blink of an eye. You can lose it all because you thought you won with time still left on the clock. So don’t get complacent or conceited even when everything is seemingly going your way. You can still surrender the lead and give away the game.  Just ask Penn State.

So hats off to J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior, some six weeks removed from his fan base questioning whether he belonged in the starting lineup, threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, leading his team in an epic comeback that will long be remembered at the Horseshoe. Barrett seized momentum and snatched a win right out of Penn States arms as they outscored Penn State 19-3 when it mattered most.  J.T. Barrett completed his last 16 passes and was a perfect 13 for 13 in the fourth quarter as he led his team to victory down the stretch over the No. 2 team in the Country with the No. 1 offense in the nation.

J.T. Barret looked like new money as he pulled a rabbit out of the hat and escaped out of a straitjacket and handcuffs better than Harry Houdini as he won a gritty, gutsy, game that no one gave him credit for being able to win. Vegas began to bet against Barrett because they said he couldn’t win the big one. But win the big one he did, and in dramatic fashion.

So remember, you can still win, despite your faults and your failures and your disappointments and even your disasters.  You CAN still win. You can come all the way back, even from the dead. The power of His resurrection is alive and well, in sports and in life. It’s called grace.  And it comes from God. And you can still find it, even after you lose it.

Don’t Give The Game Away

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Did You See The Game? I did.

I watched the Michigan / Ohio State game yesterday. If you missed it, you missed a treat. It was a great win and a horrible loss both at the same time. Yes, it was a great win for Ohio State to come from behind and beat their archrivals 30 -27 in DOUBLE OT, at home, again. And it was a horrible, almost unspeakable loss.

One sportswriter put it this way:

“There is simply too much pain to process. Losing to Ohio State? Losing in double overtime? Losing with some controversy? Losing the Big Ten East Division? Losing a shot at the Playoff? It’s almost overwhelming. Michigan will bounce back under Jim Harbaugh — and very likely be right there for the 2017 national title — but this loss will sting all offseason. Then again, maybe there’s room for Michigan to make a national semifinal in 2016?”

Michigan had the game in the bag. I mean the game was won and the Michigan Quarterback Wilton Speight and the referees game it away. Yes it was a great game because it had everything: it had defense and turnovers and missed field goals and a pick-six and fourth and inches and a first down controversy in double overtime.

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s game, you missed one of the best regular season college games in college football history Michigan, the better team, had Ohio State on the ropes for most of the game, then choose to gift the game back to the Buckeyes down the stretch. Ohio State wouldn’t have even been in the game had it not been for the interceptions that the Michigan QB gave them. Wow.

Coach Jim Harbaugh has every right to be mad, but the first person he needs to be mad with is himself. He lost his cool and it cost his team five critical yards late in the game when the defense needed to keep the Buckeyes out of the end zone. They did not.

We lead by example. A long time ago someone said, monkey see, monkey do. And the team saw their coach lose his composure, and then they went on to lose the game in typical Michigan, meltdown fashion (the Wolverines have lost five straight to Ohio State at the Horseshoe).

“Outrageous,” Harbaugh said at one point, describing the officiating that he thought cost his Wolverines the game at Ohio State Saturday afternoon. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how you handle a brutal loss when you speak to the public. What matters is what you show them. Harbaugh didn’t show much grace.

His senior defensive lineman, however, Chris Wormley, did. “There’s a few calls that I thought could go either way,” he said. “You’ve got to play through those types of calls, handle adversity.” Yes, you do.

And so the lesson is almost lyrical: you may lose and you may fail and you may suffer loss, but don’t give it away. Don’t lose your cool or lose your head or lose your composure. Your opponent may try to grab it or seize it or snatch it or even steal it, but DO NOT give it away.  And that’s just what the Michigan coach and the Michigan team did yesterday.

 

Ohio State vs. Michigan: Impose Your Will

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It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The season and a shot at the championship are on the line.  For these two pigskin powerhouses and football juggernauts, it’s time for the big game against their arch rival. So just about everything that really counts is up for grabs. The annual clash between these rivals means even more this year as the winner is likely to end up in the College Football Playoffs.

It just doesn’t get any bigger than this. In order to win, one team must impose their will and their way upon their opponent.

It doesn’t get any better than Michigan vs. Ohio State @ the Horseshoe. Pre-game and pre first snap, we are asking ourselves and each other these eternal questions: who will prevail? Who will succeed and triumph? Who will impose their way and emerge victorious?  These immortal questions emerge at the initiation of every athletic encounter. And they also surface before every season and afore every game and as we face every down and as we prepare for every play of our lives.

It just doesn’t get any better than this. This pivotal, punctual, national pastime of a matchup will answer questions that beg for answers. And the correlation for you and I is this: will we impose our will over the will of our emotions and feelings and sensations? Can we overcome our dark passions and secret sensations and vile vexations in order to achieve our goals?

We must. And with the help of Heaven, we will. Failure is not an option. And yet if we fail to succeed (this time), we must get back up and get back going, again.  

Penn State Beat Ohio State? Wait, What?

pennstatenittanylions

Talk about an upset!

What once looked like a comfortable victory quickly turned into a stunning 24-21 defeat for Ohio State on Saturday night when Penn State scored 17 unanswered points over the last quarter and a half.

Penn State’s thriller of a win against the No. 2 team in the land came down to a blocked field goal. Ohio States’ field goal attempt  to extend the lead turned into a devastatingly, disastrous play that lost the game. Nittany Lions defensive back Marcus Allen shot into a gap and jumped to block Tyler Durbin’s 45-yard field goal try, and Grant Haley scooped it up and ran 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 4:27 left in the game.

And the play that turned into the game-winning touchdown for Penn State started out with Ohio State being in a bit of a hurry. With a 21-17 lead with less than five minutes to play, OSU looked like it rushed kicker Tyler Durbin onto the field to attempt a career-long 45-yard field goal. Then the bottom fell out for Ohio State.

Conversely, on this same play, the Heaven’s opened up for Penn State. So it just goes to show ya, miscues and misfortune for one can actually be a miracle for another. And that’s just what happened in Happy Valley this past weekend when Penn State’s  newest heroes  Marcus Allen and Grant Haley blocked the kick and then recovered it and ran 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown

The blocked field goal attempt was the second special teams collapse in the fourth quarter by the Buckeyes. With 11:42 to play, Cam Brown blocked a Cameron Johnston punt and the Nittany Lions turned that into a field goal that cut Ohio State’s lead to 21-17. And the rest is history.

So just remember. It’s never over. Never. Keep playing and keep plugging and keep pressing and keep persisting until you break through and your break through comes.

“Thou Shalt Defeat Thy Rival:” The First Sports Commandment With Promise

dallas-cowboys-vs-washington-redskins-rivalry

There are commandments for our spirit and commandments for our soul and commandments for our bodies. The commandments for our bodies are the Commandments of Sports. We’ll get to all of the other Sports Commandments later; for now, we want to zoom in and zero on the first Sports Commandment with promise: “Thou Shalt Defeat Thy Rival.”

Defeating your rival, especially and particularly your arch rival, is a command. Your arch rival wants you dead and defeated and destroyed even more than they want to win. Just like Ohio State lives to beat Michigan, and the Boston Red Sox are better when they’ve beaten the New York Yankees, and the L.A. Lakers love to beat the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Cowboys just HAVE to beat the Washington Redskins and the Redskins can’t breathe unless they beat Dallas. In other words, if you can’t make the playoffs, at least beat Dallas.

And last night on Monday Night Football, with the entire sports world watching, the Redskins did what they are commanded to do. The only problem for the bookies is that someone somewhere bet on the Redskins winning, and against all odds, the ‘Skins won. It’s just that no one in their right mind or in their wildest whims or in their deepest delusions even dared to dream the ’Skins would win: but win they did! They beat their rival; they beat Dallas.

Defeating your rival is what you should live for. Defeating your rival is what you should be willing to die for. Defeating your rival is in fact Biblical. Yes I know that sounds so Old Covenant, so Old Testament, but even the New Testament attests to the fact that our enemies must be destroyed. “And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Until then, loving our enemies is the “Christian” way to defeat a rival.

And last night the lowly Washington Redskins, on their third quarterback this season, gave all of us reason to hope again. Last night, the underdog came through and won a game that they had no chance – at least on paper – to win. And it was against their rival. Last night, the 2 – 5 Washington Redskins defeated the heavily favored 5 -1 Dallas Cowboys IN DALLAS, 20 -17.

The Dallas – Washington rivalry is one of the fiercest and fiestiest in all of sports, and certainly the most ferocious in the NFL. And for the Redskins to beat the Cowboys with a Third String Quarterback in OT no less, was a miracle indeed. Colt McCoy come out of nowhere and led the ‘Skins to victory with a first year coach and a list of veteran players sidelined due to injury. Talk about pulling the rabbit out of the hat.

So let’s learn the lesson of the first Sports Commandment with promise. Let’s defeat every fiend and every foe that comes at us and comes after us. With God’s help, let’s determine to defeat every nemesis and every naysayer, every adversary and every archenemy that we have, in Jesus name. Amen.

OH, and what’s the promise? Tune in next time . . . unless you want to chime in on what the promise is.