What I wouldn't give to be at The Stadium tonight! Bill Snyder's house will be rocking, and the more I think about this matchup, the more I start to believe that the 15% odds I gave our Cats in my story, "Three Roads Diverged On A Purple Thursday" could be far too low. In fact, I'm beginning to think that everything is aligning such that the boys in Purple are going to turn Nebraska's Big 12 swan song into a death march. Here's how I think it goes down.
At some point early in the game, probably after smashing the Huskers with Daniel Thomas over and over and over for several plays in a row, Coach Snyder throws in some "trickeration." Not sure what it will be, but I'm thinking it gives KSU an early 7-3 lead, and sends the crowd at BSFS into an early frenzy. We kick off, and NU moves the ball a bit, until finally we force them into a 3rd and "uncomfortable" (say 8 or 9). At this point, Martinez makes his first big mistake (first of several, as I see it happening), throwing a slant route that one of the Ty's jumps, picks off, and takes down to the Husker 10 or so. From there, two doses of DT, plus a brilliant play fake on 3rd and goal from the 1-yard-line results in a touchdown from Carson Coffman to Andre McDonald, for a 14-3 lead, and the stadium is literally shaking with the noise.
Feeding off of this, the Purple Storm defense bows up, and forces the Huskers' first 3-and-out. You know what happens next. As the crowd noise swells to never-before-heard levels, the punt team breaks through for their first block of the season. The ball rolls through the back of the end zone, and the Cats have a 16-3 lead. On the ensuing free kick, pandemonium truly starts breaking out, as William Powell does what we've all been thinking he was on the verge of doing, and houses one from 85 yards out. Coeds faint, Willie sprints up and down the sidelines, and the Wildcats have a 23-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
On their opening drive of the second quarter, the Huskers settle down and score on a long drive, to make it 23-10. After a 3-and-out, NU moves inside the Wildcat 5, with first and goal. After a Helu 4-yard run, Martinez is stoned cold on an option keeper, leaving third-and-goal from inside the 1. Feeding off the noise, KSU bows up and holds the line as Martinez tries to push it over -- but wait! Brandon Harold has come out from under the pile, claiming he has the football! He does have the football! It's first-and-10 for the Wildcats from the 1-foot-line! Trying for a little breathing room, Coffman hands off to DT up the middle. But, wait! It's play action! Tramaine Thompson is running free in the NU secondary! Coffman throws it deep, as he's hit hard by a Husker defensive tackle. Thompson adjusts a bit on the fly, and catches it in stride -- 99-yard touchdown, and it's bedlam in BSFS! The score at half-time is 30-10, and the KSU crowd doesn't quiet down much even during the break.
After the half, Nebraska drives down and Helu takes it in from about 9 yards out, allowing the Huskers to close within 30-17. The Cats move the ball well on their next drive, bleeding the clock, but stalling out around the Husker 40. Ryan Doerr drops a punt inside the 5, reviving the crowd a bit from their disappointment at the Cats' last drive.On first down, Helu is stopped for only a yard gain, and on second, Martinez is sacked at the 1 when B. Harold nearly "decapitates" him with a tackle that the Huskers think is a facemask that isn't called. Nebraska's coaches go crazy. Pelini is so angry he seemingly starts to cry, so on the next play, he decides to go deep. This time, it's Prizell Brown that breaks through, crushing Martinez as he tries to throw. The ball pops into the air, and Alex Hrebec (who was coming on a blitz) snatches it for the touchdown! It's now 37-17, late in the third quarter, and the rout is on! Now gun-shy, Martinez fumbles the center exchange, after a decent return gave the Huskers the ball at their own 37 yard line. After a 6 yard run from DT, Coffman hits Harper on a slant route that he takes all the way to the Husker 2. From there, DT does the rest. He makes it 44-17 on the first play of the 4th quarter, but the scoring isn't done yet.
Nebraska moves the ball after Martinez is pulled from the game, but stalls AGAIN inside the Wildcat 10. An incomplete pass in the end-zone gives the Cats the ball back with just under 10 minutes to play. Coffman is still under center, but Powell is now getting a few carries, and Chris Harper sees the field as a QB in the Wildcat formation, after the Cats have moved out to their own 40 yard line. They keep methodically moving the ball, now to NU's 30, winding the clock down under 4:00 to play. Klein has now replaced Coffman, and he completes a pass to Tannahill that takes the Cats inside the 20 yard line. Klein hands the ball off twice to Powell for a total of 6 yards, down to the Husker 12, leaving them third-and-4 from there. As the clock moves under 2:00, Klein apparently hands off to Powell again -- but no, it's a play fake! Harper is running free on a slant across the middle! Touchdown K-State! It's 51-17, and it is utterly insane inside the House That Snyder Built!
Nebraska runs the clock out on their next drive, but can not score. Pelini is now convinced that Coach Snyder is the Anti-Christ, and can't wait to get to the Big Ten, where classy coaches like RichRod await him. The goalposts in BSFS come down once more, just for old times' sake, and make the jaunt down to Aggieville. Spencer Tillman is found by a friend, curled up in the fetal position, mumbling something about, "But they hadn't PLAYED anyone!" During his press conference, Coach Snyder allows himself that little, Mona Lisa smile he gets when you know the Old Man is really tickled.
And that, Cat fans, is how the bell will toll for Big Red tonight!