If you asked Husker fans at the start of the season to list Nebraska’s three best players, what percentage of the ballots would have included at least one of the following: Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nathan Gerry, Jordan Westerkamp?
One-hundred percent? I’m comfortable saying 100 percent. I don’t think there would have been a single ballot that wouldn’t have included at least one of those three seniors. I bet somewhere around 85 percent would’ve had at least two.
All three? A solid majority of ballots probably would’ve listed Armstrong, Gerry and Westerkamp just based on the number of games played for the Huskers over the past four seasons, but now it looks like none of them will play in the Music City Bowl a week from today. That’s Nebraska’s quarterback, obviously, but also its second-leading rusher, its leading receiver and its second-leading tackler.
What’s it mean for the Music City Bowl? It certainly doesn’t increase Nebraska’s odds, obviously, but because there is a decent degree of who-knows-what-might-happen inherent in any bowl game that maybe it’s not as bad as it could be. If Nebraska goes into a regular-season Big Ten game without those three, the game probably gets chalked up as a loss.
In a bowl game, however, things are just weird enough to entertain what would otherwise be crazy scenarios? What if the Music City Bowl becomes a shootout? What if Ryker Fyfe has the game of his career? What if Nebraska’s finally-healthy offensive line controls the line of scrimmage? What if Riley, 7-2 in bowl games, really is a long-layoff/late-December magician?
What if? It’s the question football teams and fans don’t want to have to ask in the middle of the season, but given the way Nebraska’s bowl prep has gone so far, it sure helps to have it now.
The Grab Bag
- Tennessee’s history against backup quarterbacks is a little dicey.
- Teddy Grennstein of the Chicago Tribune offers a “deep dive” on Big Ten officiating. Well worth the read.
- Alex Scarborough of ESPN looks at Alabama’s practice practices and how they’re offering the Tide an edge.
- What’s Steve Spurrier up to these days? Being an ambassador for Florida.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.