First downs and second guesses:
Nebraska is going to the “Woodshed” on Saturday night.
Whether or not the Huskers get taken there remains to be seen.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker calls Spartan Stadium “The Woodshed.” It’s a clever marketing slogan. And there’s probably a T-shirt deal in there for Tucker, since everything now is on a shirt.
It raises the age-old question: Which comes first, the nickname or the reputation?
This one is the former. It feels forced. But that's Tucker's point.
Spartan Stadium doesn’t have the reputation as an intimidating place. MSU has a loyal fan base, but its football atmosphere depends on the opponent.
The last time Nebraska played there, in 2014 (a night-game loss), the Spartan student section was almost empty.
The past three years, MSU is 6-6 at home, including 1-3 last year during Tucker’s first season and COVID.
This year the Spartans have a team, momentum and a ranking. And Tucker has timing. And the right opponent.
Nebraska provides an easy mark, because Husker fans show up. On Monday, Tucker issued a challenge and rally cry to his fan base: Nobody sells a ticket to Nebraska fans. All they get is their 2,500 allotment.
We heard the same thing when Tucker coached Colorado two years ago. How’d that work out (the Big Red showing, not the score)?
Nicknames can be fleeting. Tucker posted a tweet that reminded the Woodshed name is not original — one of Nick Saban’s MSU assistants used it in 1999, the year the Spartans went to the Citrus Bowl.
The next year, Saban went to LSU and took the Woodshed with him.
Tucker is trying to revive the name. It's a play to rally his team and fans in a game they have to have. Now it’s up to his blue-collar, physical bunch to back it up. He’s betting they can.
It’s not quite as iconic as “Big House” or “Horseshoe,” and by the way, those are brilliant because they don’t depend on the final score.
College football stadiums are always as intimidating as the teams that play in them. But this is worth a shot.
On the other hand, if the Spartans need this to get them ready, then Nebraska already has a shot.
» Cam Jurgens. From reluctant snapper to bull in a china shop. That’s progress. I’ll take the extra-effort penalties because that’s how you want your line to play. Just dial it back a notch to avoid penalties. There’s a guy named Dominic Raiola who can tell Jurgens how to do that.
» On Monday night at the Creighton Prep Sports Night, new Creighton Athletic Director Marcus Blossom was welcomed with a nice ovation by the sellout crowd. A few minutes later, former CU A.D. Bruce Rasmussen was introduced and got a long standing ovation from the room.
If Blossom doesn’t know what he’s following, he certainly does now.
» Last week’s stroll down Game of the Century lane was fun and also melancholy. When will we visit those memories and players again?
Doubtful that we do it again next year when OU comes to Lincoln. But 2022 is the 50th anniversary of Johnny Rodgers’ Heisman Trophy.
» This wouldn’t just apply to Nebraska volleyball, but all teams: Is there any impact from having just played a full season last spring?
» Omar Manning. What a family. What a story. No doubt it took something for the young man to open up and share it, but so glad he did. Now he can go play. And we can sit back and admire him for much more than the player he is.
» This week is the final homestand for the Omaha Storm Chasers. I like late September baseball. The trade-off is no playoffs in Triple-A baseball, but that’s fine with me. I like having extra games.
In fact, I’d take a schedule that cuts off half the April games that are either rained out or too cold to draw a crowd in exchange for September baseball. Yes, it’s football season. But the crowds I’ve seen at Werner Park this month have been decent.
» This Dodger fan took in an OKC Dodger game last Friday night at Bricktown Ballpark, Nebraska’s old stomping grounds. Opened in 1998, the park has not aged well. It makes me proud of the job Omaha does with its facilities. The CHI Health Center, opened in 2003, still looks new.
» Here’s where we are in college football: OU defensive back D.J. Graham made a T-shirt of his one-handed interception against Nebraska last Saturday. You know, the play where Graham would have been better off batting down the fourth-down pass, pinned OU down by the 1-yard line and gave Nebraska field position to score a touchdown.
Is that what epic plays are going for these days?
» Imagine what the Johnny Rodgers punt return would have gone for in the world of NIL.
» USA wins the Ryder Cup. What I’m rooting for is Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to be paired together in Four Ball. And live tweet the match.
» One more and I’m outta here: Congrats to “Doc” Morrison and the folks at Prep. The Sports Night always delivers. Nick Faldo made eagle.