Randy York's N-Sider
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Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium is the perfect setting to write the first chapter in Nebraska's Big Ten history book. Jim Delany and his staff established the plot when they announced the schedule, and the most beautiful thing about it is no one knows if this is your classic ambush or a power premiere for a tradition-rich Husker program that respects everyone, but fears no one.
As the first new member in the nation's oldest conference in two decades, where else would you start? It's almost genius to ask an athletic program headed by an All-Big Eight linebacker from Nebraska to be the consummate host for a school he reveres, yet would most like to beat.
I mean, Barry Alvarez played for Bob Devaney, was mentored by Bob Devaney, became a Hall-of-Fame coach like Bob Devaney and turned a football program completely around like Bob Devaney. Both even followed their Hall-of-Fame coaching careers with successful stints as athletic directors at the schools they turned around. Alvarez, in fact, has calculated every move he's made with Devaney-like skill and precision. He's mastered the fine art of empowering, equipping and enabling excellence everywhere around him, just like the head coach who convinced him to leave the Keystone State of Pennsylvania for the discipline and regimen of Nebraska.
Devaney Would Be Wearing a Blackshirt Saturday
Barry Alaverez even stole Tom Osborne's blueprint for walk-ons to fill in the Badgers' recruiting gaps and develop the heart to match Wisconsin's soul. But make no mistake. As much as Bob Devaney respected, admired and loved Barry Alvarez and as much as Barry Alvarez loved, admired and respected Bob Devaney, even Devaney would pull a Blackshirt over his red sweater for this game.
I think Nebraska and Wisconsin will be one of the best rivalries in the storied Big Ten, even though they won't play each other every year. The Huskers and Badgers have the same colors, the same look, the same work ethic, the same values, the same dreams and the same love affair with college football.
My guess is most Big Ten fans will be rooting for one of the oldest members of their family in this early-season showdown on national television, and I completely understand that thought process.
Which Defense Can Stop a High-Octane Offense?
D-Day has finally arrived, and everyone is excited. When I say D-Day, I'm not talking war, I'm talking which defense is going to stop the other team's explosive offense. The only reason I use the term is because this historical launch into the Big Ten requires the Huskers to invade someone else's turf instead of defend their own. It's a tall order, to be sure, and everything must be in synch for a successful launch.
As historically significant as this first football game as a member of the Big Ten Conference is, I'm also looking forward to next weekend's first league game in Memorial Stadium because perenniel Big Ten power Ohio State will visit our house and play in front of our fans.
Win or lose in Madison, Nebraska fans will take on the same personality that Wisconsin fans undoubtedly will exhibit this weekend. Just change the names of the school. Next week, Big Red fans will be saying "Welcome to Nebraska" and, deep down inside, they will be thinking what Badger fans have been thinking all week: "I sure hope you get your cans kicked!"
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