Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: Nebraska’s Bye Week and Anime References in Sports

October 22, 2021

This week’s Drake’s Takes focuses on Nebraska football as it finally gets a bye week, along with the greatness of anime references within sports.

Finally, a bye week

Nebraska continues to defy the odds in the most painful way possible. 

With last week’s loss to Minnesota, the Huskers now seem destined to miss a bowl game yet again. To still make one, the most likely path would be to win at home against Purdue, beat Wisconsin on the road, and upset one of Iowa or Ohio State at home. 

Nebraska has a bye week to finally reset before going into the final four games, but things aren’t necessarily looking up otherwise. I previously said that I felt confident enough to lock in Purdue as a win, but now the Boilermakers have beaten Iowa and are ranked. 

Depending on the result of this weekend’s matchup between Purdue and Wisconsin, the remainder of Nebraska home games could come against ranked teams. The other game will be against Wisconsin on the road. The Huskers are winless on the road this year, and haven’t beaten the Badgers since 2012.

At this point, I don’t know if the Huskers can finish with a record better than 4-8. The most likely win is still Purdue to me, although I’m no longer confident in that. Beating Wisconsin on the road is a task this team hasn’t shown me it can accomplish, but maybe this year it happens. A split of those two games is fairly realistic either way.

It’s a bye week, so I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the confusion of Nebraska football, but I’ll try to end with a reason for optimism. If you’re going to play ranked teams down the stretch, it’s preferable that those games be at home. At the very least, those games will have a fun environment. 

At its best, Nebraska can beat Purdue and Wisconsin. The Huskers have also gotten close to taking down Iowa the past three years. If things break just right for once, they could do it. 

Bad week for a bye

Of course, with Nebraska on a bye week, I figured that it’d be nice to spend that time watching more college football than usual. The one problem with that is that there aren’t a lot of great games this week. 

To start off, there are no matchups between ranked teams. That doesn’t doom the weekend to mediocrity, but it’s not a great start. The only top-10 teams with semi-intriguing matchups are No. 8 Oklahoma State, which plays Iowa State, and No. 10 Oregon, which will face off against UCLA. 

I will say that I haven’t had the chance to watch Oklahoma State yet this season, so that might be my first choice. The Cowboys have gotten more and more intriguing as the season progresses, defeating three ranked teams in a row (although none were higher than No. 20). Running back Jaylen Warren has had four straight 100-plus yard games. 

Besides those two games, there’s not a lot left. Wisconsin and No. 25 Purdue will only be fun to look at the result of, but certainly not to watch. Clemson and No. 23 Pittsburgh is slightly more exciting due to the potential of a signature performance from dark horse Heisman candidate Kenny Pickett. 

While I do wish there were better matchups this week, I can’t complain too much. It could end up being a wonderful day for a nap as well. 

Anime and sports 

One of my favorite things to randomly see in sports is anime references. 

While the medium continues to rapidly rise in popularity in the United States, you still may not see it brought up as much as certain American shows and movies are. So, it’s like a treat to see a reference when you aren’t expecting it. 

I have to give a shoutout to Bleacher Report here, because they’re one of the best when it comes to posting content related to anime and sports. To kick off the NBA season, they posted an edited Naruto opening featuring the league’s stars.

The Nets as the Akatsuki, the villain group of the well-known show, is perfect. I’d say that Giannis Antetokounmpo is closer to being the Naruto of the league right now than Lebron is, but I understand the choice. 

Earlier this month, Bleacher Report posted a MLB playoffs graphic that borrowed the style of the highly-popular Demon Slayer anime. The show is just starting its season two with an episodic adaptation of its recent “Mugen Train” movie. The movie isn’t a standalone, non-canon film, as it takes place right after the events of season one. 

Despite that, it has become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time. It also had the highest opening weekend in the U.S. for an anime, overtaking Mortal Kombat for first at the box office. I watched it when it released in the U.S., and I can assure you it is incredible and possibly will make you cry. 

Additionally, Olympians this summer struck poses from One Piece, which is nearing its 1000th episode. 

A lot of sports stars love anime, and Crunchyroll, a popular anime streaming site, recently published an interview with Miami offensive lineman Zion Nelson. 

It’s easy to see where this connection comes from. Sports and anime often share similar themes — the value of working together to reach a goal, along with insane individual strength and accomplishments. It’s one of the many intersections within American sports that can be rare, but is always fun to see.

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