‘This one hurts’


Cyclones fans are left speechless after quarterback Austen Arnaud throws an interception that resulted in the Huskers’ 31-30 victory over the Cyclones in overtime.

Jeremiah Davis

As I left Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday afternoon, there was one universal feeling throughout the throng of Cyclone fans around me.


I saw a lot of tears from those young and old. This one might have been the hardest one to take — and the Cyclones have a lot of heartbreaking losses over the years.

I think it’s so hard to take because of the way they lost. The two-point conversion try showed some serious intestinal fortitude, but it made the shock and pain of the loss all the worse.

A lot of fans either missed what happened or weren’t sure what they saw. People were asking, to no one in particular, if it was meant to be a fake or if it was a mistake. But everyone was some level of distraught.

Most fans just stood there in disbelief, then, without saying anything, just walked out. There wasn’t much else anyone could do.

There were mutterings of, “At least it was a good game,” and, “We played ’em tough.” And while I’ve heard there were Husker fans who were less than civil after the game, I will say this for those that I encountered: Each one gave a nod to the Cyclone fans they were around, and a few of them even said, “You guys deserved to win that one.”

I can’t say the same for some Cyclone fans I saw who came across Cornhusker fans. A few of them — the ones who weren’t sober — spewed anger and hate and showed little class. It’s not an excuse, but they were taking out their pain on those who supported the enemy.

The second guessing of the call was almost immediate.

I overheard one fan, an older man who seemed to be there with his daughters, say, “I just hate that they lost on a play call that looked like it was made by an eighth-grader.”

That sentiment is likely shared by a lot of fans. It’s not uncommon for that to a be quick reaction.

But an intelligent sports fan knows that if that play works out like it was supposed to, coach Paul Rhoads is considered a genius and made the greatest call of his career.

Fans can’t praise his fake punts and gutsy calls at one time, then criticize him for it later.

As a fan of football, I had to admire the guts it took for Rhoads to make that call. He put everything in the hands of a backup punter, basically saying, “OK, I trust you. Go win the game.”

It could be said that it was irresponsible or unfair to the players who played hard for four-plus quarters that the game come down to a fake field goal. I don’t look at it that way, and neither do the players.

“I’m not surprised he made a decision, and we stand by him 100 percent,” said linebacker A.J. Klein.

I admire Rhoads for making the call. He played to win the game — as former NFL coach Herman Edwards would say.

In hindsight I like the call, but I wonder about the end of regulation, when Rhoads decided to kneel on it with 40 seconds left.

A huge risk taken at one time, but not at another. That decision could be seen two ways as well. Either Rhoads simply didn’t want to risk a turnover, as he said after the game, or he didn’t trust his quarterback, who had already thrown two interceptions.

I didn’t mind the decision to kneel it while I was watching the game, and I still don’t. I don’t think it was a trust issue at all. I just think Rhoads and company wanted to get to overtime and take their shots then.

Regardless of how it turned out, it was the best college football game I’ve ever personally witnessed. It’s become a cliche under Rhoads, but the Cyclones really did play with a ton of heart. They literally left everything they had on the field, leaving them emotionally and physically spent afterward.

It’s just too bad for Cyclone fans that all that heart and emotion didn’t add up to another signature victory.