I hope that somewhere in the league offices Sunday afternoon, some brave soul shot their shot. While the Big Ten Network was saying during a 9-0 Nebraska trouncing of Ohio State that despite a Michigan loss and a Nebraska win, it might not yet mean an outright Big Ten title for Will Bolt and the Huskers because the league was considering adding games to the schedule.
Presumably, the motivation for adding back games to the league calendar would be postseason-focused. “Let’s help our league as much as we can while other leagues are playing conference tournaments.” I hope that brave soul spoke up and said, “You know what might also help our league while other leagues are playing conference tournaments? Playing a conference tournament.”
He or she might have been fired on the spot, but it would have been worth it.
Nebraska needed a couple things to happen this weekend to clinch before its season-culminating series with the Wolverines.
Michigan needed to lose to Maryland, which it did by a score of 7-3.
And Nebraska needed to then come out and beat Ohio State on Sunday, which it did. Emphatically. It was 9-0.
Nine to zip for a team that walked onto the diamond thinking “if we win, we’re winning the whole damn thing.”
That takes something special.
Nebraska “upset” the 25th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers on Friday, 8-5.
It then roared back from a seven-run deficit going into the final three frames to beat the Buckeyes, 11-9. Five runs in the seventh, bases loaded in the eighth, four runs in the ninth. Just seemed like they couldn’t be denied.
Hours later, senior Chance Hroch went the distance in a pitching masterpiece to beat Indiana again, 3-1.
Nebraska didn’t care what Michigan was doing. Nebraska probably wouldn’t care if it ended up having to play Northwestern in a makeup game. Nebraska probably wouldn’t care if it ended up needing to clinch in front of its home fans against Michigan next weekend.
This squad, in Bolt’s first full season in charge, is the class of the Big Ten and playing with a huge deal of confidence.
They’re a joy to watch.
They seem an absolute pleasure to cheer for.
There was a 14-game stretch where Nebraska’s offense scored at least six runs each time out.
They haven’t lost more than three consecutive games all season.
There are pro prospects. There’s a strong senior class that came back to do exactly this. There’s youth that makes one think this Bolt Era is just getting started. Bolt flipped Max Anderson from Texas A&M in what seemed like a heartbeat and as a freshman all the Omaha kid did was tie for the league lead in hits.
During Bolt’s postgame BTN interview, he spoke of a selfless group. He then got mobbed by his team and handed the league trophy. “I just enjoy watching players celebrate,” the coach said.
Nebraskans just want teams that represent them. Win, yes, but character and determination matters a lot. This group fights. Bolt’s experience here as a player and a coach helps greatly.
Nebraska wasn’t even picked to finish in the top six this season, and it clinched the league title with a week to spare.
And it has a tournament berth in the pocket now.
Watch out for the Huskers.