Punt-Counterpunt: Nebraska 2012

Submitted by Brian on October 27th, 2012 at 11:42 AM



Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.


By Ken “Sky” Walker

Whew! That game vs. Sparty was way too close! Glad Blue was finally able to get past State and shut up all those Spartan lovers. Very sweet to hear the dejected tone of the MSU player’s in their postgame comments. I do have one problem with last Saturday’s game however—why was I surrounded by people clad in green & white? I was very disappointed by the large number of folks who opted to sell their tickets, to a rivalry game no less. Come on Michigan fans, is it really only about the money?

You can bet that Maize & Blue will be hard to find in Lincoln tonight. Just from the numbers who showed up in Ann Arbor last year, I’m thinking it will be a solid sea of red. I have to say that at least the Nebraska fans I spoke to were knowledgeable, well behaved, if not downright cordial (of course their team was getting feasted on by the Wolverines—that does tend to lessen one’s spunk). And while I’d love to check out the game day atmosphere in Memorial Stadium, I’m kind of sketchy about a road trip to Lincoln. The last time I deigned to attend a game in the Big Ten hinterlands (that would be Champaign, Ill.) the eau de fertilizer was a bit overpowering.

Nebraska is promoting this game as the first in college football history between conference teams with at least 850 all-time wins. While that is a unique occurrence, I’m more impressed that Nebraska will also be celebrating 50 years of consecutive sellouts. Think about it. Michigan just had their 242nd game with 100,000 fans or more. That’s somewhere between 20 – 24 years, playing 10 – 12 games per season. Fifty years of sellouts? I don’t know if I should be wowed by this or lament the fact there’s no other outlet for Lincoln sports fans other than Nebraska athletics.

The rub in this is that the Wolverines are going into the lion’s den. We’re talking a Columbus type environment. While I think it won’t be anywhere near as nasty, there’s still going to be 87,000-plus fans looking to see their Cornhuskers to avenge last year’s debacle in the Big House. Brady Hoke’s teams have had some trouble in road games during his tenure. It will be quite a feat if Michigan can get this road win, having just had an emotional victory over MSU.

We Michiganders are fortunate to have plenty of outlets for our sporting interests. Top notch ones at that. I’ll have to see if Counterpunt will venture out with me to watch Michigan/Nebraska and the World series. It’s just that tonight, I think we’re going to be drowning our sorrows.

Michigan 20 Nebraska 27



By Nick RoUMel

I remember January 1, 1998 like it was just 15 years ago. Michigan had completed one of the most remarkable seasons in its storied history. It had gone undefeated in glorious fashion, in the process knocking off #7 Colorado, Notre Dame, #15 Iowa, #14 Michigan State, #2 Penn State, #23 Wisconsin, and #4 Ohio State, to complete an undefeated 11-0 and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl. They were the unanimous #1 in both the AP and USA Today polls, in the last season before the BCS came to destroy our way of life.

Michigan’s defense was astonishing, giving up less than 10 points a game, including a total of only 78 points in the entire Big Ten season. (In contrast, in 2010, Rich Rod’s defense allowed 65 points to Illinois in a single game. Yes I know we still won. Shut up and listen to Grandpa.)

The Penn State game in 1997 was our favorite, as Punt will attest. Facing the undefeated Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, we tailgated from 7 AM in a steady drizzle with our insufferable Penn State hosts until crushing their hearts with a 34-8 victory. That same day, Nebraska remained undefeated by engaging in Sparty-like documented cheating to beat Missouri when a downed receiver purposefully kicked the live ball to another receiver for a touchdown to send the game into overtime, which Nebraska eventually won. The Cornhuskers still affectionately refer to that play as the “Fleakicker.”

Confident in our season of destiny, we did not think too much about Nebraska’s lucky victory. Michigan went on to demoralize Ohio State to earn a Rose Bowl berth against the Washington State Cougars, who won a weak Pac 10 that year with the gifted but stupid Ryan Leaf at quarterback. We could all but taste finishing the season as the unanimous #1 pick in the nation.

Back to January 1, 1998. With just 29 seconds to play in the Rose Bowl, Michigan led 21-16 thanks to three long Brian Griese passes, two to Tai Streets, and a Charles Woodson interception in the end zone. It was not a blowout, but it was convincing. A late punt pinned the Cougars on their 7 yard line with just 29 seconds to play.

Two long passes later, Washington State found itself on Michigan’s 16. One of those passes was controversial. The WSU receiver shoved Charles Woodson out of the way before catching the ball. The official reached for his hanky, but for some reason, did not pull it out. As seconds wound down, Leaf spiked the ball for one last play. The whistle blew. In another controversial call, officials said time had run out.

At that point, Michigan fans felt just as much relief as euphoria. We turned to watch the Orange Bowl, where the Peyton Manning led Tennessee Volunteers would face the now #2 Nebraska Cornhuskers. An injured but game Manning had no mobility and was manhandled by the swarming Cornhusker defense. After the game, Nebraska quarterback Scotty Frost was interviewed. In a moving tribute that still makes me sick to recall, Scotty made a shameless plea to voters to choose Nebraska #1 over Michigan. He argued this would be a fitting cap to the career of their retiring coach Tom Osborne, but he could not resist adding a dig against Michigan. As quoted by the Ann Arbor News:

“If you can look yourself in the mirror and say if your job depended on playing either Michigan or Nebraska to keep your job, who would you rather play?" Frost remarked after the game. "You watched the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Michigan won with a controversial play at the end. We took apart the third-ranked team in the country.

"The second point I have is: I can't see how any coach outside the Big Ten or the Pac-10 would vote for Michigan.”

The coaches complied, leapfrogging Nebraska over Michigan for the #1 final spot in the coaches’ poll, while Michigan managed the #1 vote of the writers (AP). Watching that on the news the next day almost made me spit out my Pina Colada, under the California palm trees.

I have not forgiven Nebraska since. Nor Tennessee for that matter, nor Peyton Manning, nor Missouri, nor the sentimental coaches who screwed Michigan to give Tom Osborne a parting gift. Not to mention perpetual tackhead Ryan Leaf, and the official who swallowed his whistle when Woodson got shoved.

In fact, Counterpunt is feeling unforgiving these days to just about everyone, including Punt - who dares to pick Nebraska to beat Michigan today. Why, Punt? Did Scotty Frost get to you too?


[Bonus pick: Tigers 3, Giants 2 – Valverde gets the save].



October 27th, 2012 at 11:55 AM ^

Michigan does not have 10-12 home games per year. Our consecutive sellout streak goes back to 1975, a total of 37 years. Then again, math was never your strong suit.

Mi Sooner

October 27th, 2012 at 12:09 PM ^

My first inperson introduction to them was during mystudent days at OU, when Barry Switzer was there.  Like Meechigan, OU has that instate nuisance, O-State, and an ND, Texas.  And then there was Nebraska.  I have nothing good to say about them -- period.   even to this day, I refer to them by a term that rhymes with their nickname.  the note by CounterPunt of Scott Frost's statment didn't surprise me at all; its the way they are.


So there is no love from the Mi Sooner residence for them, but just the utter contempt that i have for them with is close to how I see the twits down south.


Ps.  I just got back from a week working down in ohio just outside of C-bus.  I still feel dirty.


October 27th, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

that  year i remember reading that in order to insure nebraska's #1 ranking, some of the coaches had to vote for michigan as the 3rd best team! this made me doubly bitter then, and still does to this day. bad enough that you vote for michigan as the #2 just to give your buddy osborne a nice retirement gift, because one could argue (unconvincingly),  that nebraska was #1 and michigan #2. but placing us third was simply corrupt and evil and robbed us of a well deserved unanimous national championship. bastards.

michgan 35-nebraska 10



October 27th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

Regarding the Nebraska consecutive sellout streaks, they'll never admit it, but there have been a few years where some local companies "just decided" to purchase a couple thousand tickets to offer them to their employees


October 27th, 2012 at 2:07 PM ^

"Convincing" my ass.

Calling a 21-16 game in which WSU had the ball when time expired "convincing" stretches that word beyond all meaning. Second, look at the stats: WSU outgained UM 398 to 379, while we had a 22-19 first down advantage. We had 63 plays, they had 71. Each team punted six times, turned the ball over once, and had four penalties. Aside from UM's TOP advantage, the final score and box score are indicative of what the game actually was: a hard-fought, close game that came down to the very end, which provided just enough justification for just enough poll voters to put Nebraska ahead of Michigan. It was a great victory over an under-rated WSU team, but calling it "convincing" is simply ludicrous.


October 27th, 2012 at 4:34 PM ^

since they weren't a name program and rarely won or appeared in bowls.  Michigan wasn't going to get much credit for beating them, except maybe in a huge blowout. Winning a close game in this situation hurt Michigan, didn't matter that WSU had a good team.

The opposite happened for Nebraska, they decisively beat a prestigous program and got maximum benefit. Whether Tennessee was a more difficult opponent than WSU can be argued, but face it the polls have a big beauty contest component to them and Nebraska benefited from soundly beating a "name" team.

Think of it this way: had Michigan beaten Tennessee 21-16 and Nebraska beat WSU 42-17,  Michigan would have been the unamimous champ.



October 27th, 2012 at 5:14 PM ^

I definitely agree about the Michigan fans selling their tickets to rivals. It's embarrassing that we have the largest most recognized stadium in the country and yet it's about as loud as a Texas high school game. Awful just awful. If you're going to sell your tickets sell them to a Michigan fan. Idiots

winged wolverine

October 27th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

ESPN has been saying all week that this is the first time two teams with 850 wins play a conference game. I checked a couple days ago, and Nebraska has 861 wins, and they haven't played 12 games since they played Michigan last year. Am I missing something? Wasn't last year the 1st time that happened? 


October 28th, 2012 at 8:02 PM ^

It amazes me how almost every Michigan fan I hear from (verbal or written) seems obsessed with that 1997 Nebraska National Championship. Do you really think the nations coaches listened to Scott Frost and changed their minds? You don't think the quality of play in those two bowl games changed their minds? Maybe you are influenced by the fact that is the only championship you have any claim to since 1948?