Nebraska's Win Over San Jose State Was Closer Than it Looked

Wil Stillwell-EdlerCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2008


On paper, it seems like a pretty good, respectable win.  In person, it felt more like 17-12.

The lopsided score in no way tells the tale of how the Nebraska Cornhuskers were a mere four plays away from being down 16-14 in the fourth quarter.

Give San Jose State some better kickers and take away Niles Paul's electric 85-yard kickoff return touchdown and that would have been what Sloppy Joe Ganz and the Husker offense would have been facing.  At that point I wouldn't have bet against the upset.  In fact, I would have expected it.

Luckily for Husker fans around the country, things turned out okay in the end.  Obviously there is a lot of work to do before the Cornhuskers face another pass happy team in New Mexico State. 

And after watching what transpired on a bleak, cloudy afternoon in Memorial Stadium, I will give NMSU every chance in the world to do what San Jose State almost managed to do today.

The entire team looked sloppy and out of synch for the first 80 percent of the game, before Paul's kick return.  The height of it all would probably be the three consecutive false start penalties, turning a rather attainable third-and-nine into a ridiculous third-and-24. 

The miscues, however, didn't stop there.  A questionable pass by Joe Ganz in his own end zone turned into an interception.  After the first three plays by the Husker offense, SJS had 2 sacks. 

The defense didn't show any improvement in defending the crossing routes, and looked terrible at times defending the run, and last years tackling woes were prevalent in the first half, but were thankfully improved upon in the second.

If things had gone San Jose State's way today, they could have easily won the game.  They threw away seven points in the kicking game, had a turnover turned into a Nebraska touchdown, and had another turnover inside the red zone.

If none of those things happened, and Niles Paul doesn't return a kickoff for a touchdown, Nebraska could have very easily have been looking at a 34-7 fourth quarter deficit with only about 11:30 left to play.

Easily overlooked in the Huskers overall bad day, was Roy Helu Jr.  He looked great in running nine times for 59 yards and a touchdown.  If he doesn't start the game next week, then there is something wrong. 

At the beginning of the year Bo Pelini said that each of the backs has a chance to start based on performance, and based on that performance, Roy proved he can be a big time back at the college level.  Especially with the days that Marlon Lucky and Quentin Castille had.

Lucky ran seven times for 23 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown.  And Castille had a terrible day of six carries for seven yards (including a touchdown) and a fumbled option pitch. The low point in the game came after that, when SJS turned that fumble into a field goal and brought themselves within two points before Nebraska broke the game open.

Overall, it was a day to forget for Husker fans other than that "W" that will go next to the score.  If they want to have any chance of beating Missouri, Texas Tech, Kansas, or Oklahoma then they need to drastically improve on both sides of the ball.  Hopefully Pelini will let them have it this week and they will respond and put a whooping on New Mexico State.

At this point, I'm not betting on it.