Archive for Saturday, October 26, 1996

NU MAY BE INVINCEABLE AT HOME

October 26, 1996

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— Frankly, Scarlet, I don't think the Scarlet and Cream will ever lose another football game in their beloved Memorial Stadium again.

Saturday night's 63-7 slaughter of the Kansas innocents was the Cornhuskers' 34th straight home victory and, while that's not an NCAA record, you have to believe Miami's national streak of 58 straight home wins will be in jeopardy early in the 21st Century.

Tom Osborne wouldn't go that far, of course, but the Cornhuskers' venerable coach -- he's been in Nebraska longer than Chimney Rock, hasn't he? -- admitted he's seen a change in the Big Red faithful.

"I really believe we've had more of a home field advantage in recent years," Osborne said. "The fans are really into it. When you're ahead 63 to 7 with five minutes left, most people would leave. In fact, at most places people would have left after the third quarter."

Kansas would certainly fit into that "most places" category, but that's no disgrace because you just can't compare Nebraska football to college football anywhere else in the country.

After Saturday's shellacking, I witnessed something I'd never seen before. I went down to the Nebraska locker area under the south stands and was amazed to see red-clad partisans lined up four and five deep behind about 35 yards of rope, and cheering wildly as the NU players jogged into their locker room area.

I've seen a similar scene at Kansas basketball games. Security personnel have to clear the way for the Jayhawks as they go to their locker room in Allen Fieldhouse, but that's barely a 10-yard path.

Is Nebraska's football team more difficult to defeat in Lincoln than Kansas' basketball team is in Lawrence? I'd say yes. At least in the 90s.

For the record, the last football team to sting Nebraska in front of the Sea of Red in Memorial Stadium was Washington back on Sept. 21, 1991. The score was 36-21.

"We felt fortunate," Washington coach Don James, a former Kansas aide, said after that come-from-behind victory. "Very seldom do you win there. Nobody wants to go there and play."

Kansas hasn't won in Lincoln since 1968. In fact, Kansas hasn't defeated the Huskers anywhere since that Orange Bowl season. Sure, the Jayhawks have come close a couple of times, but most of those 28 consecutive defeats have been by scores similar to Saturday night.

It really doesn't matter whether Kansas lost 10-7 or 63-7. A loss is a loss is a loss. But this one was embarrassing in the sense the Jayhawks were an elixir for one of the worst passing offenses in the country.

Going into Saturday's game, Scott Frost had been throwing the ball like Frosty the Snowman. Frost ranked dead last in the Big 12 on the pass efficiency chart.

On Saturday night, Frost looked like Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr and, yes, Mike Fouts, the Utah quarterback who unleashed a record-breaking 476-yard passing fussilade on the Jayhawks last month, rolled into one.

It's been a strange season for Kansas football so far. The first part was terrific, but the middle portion has been terrible.

What can we expect down the stretch? Heck, I think I have a better chance of finding true north with a pocket knife.

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