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Hot Reads: The What-If Game
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Hot Reads: The What-If Game

December 23, 2016

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.

Mike Riley shared his thoughts on Gerry’s ineligibility yesterday (as did Gerry in a tweet). Riley also didn’t make it seem like Armstrong was close to being available either.

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.

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