I Don’t Believe What I Just Saw: A Northwestern account of Nebraska 2013

Northwestern 24 (4-5, 0-5 Big Ten) v Nebraska 27 (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten):  Nebraska wins 27-24

I DON’T BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW”, were words mouthed by famous announcer Jack Buck after Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series walk off home run.

That is exactly what the hundreds of thousand fans thought on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, as two B1G football teams clashed in a pivotal matchup, the game of football proved why it is indeed a roller coaster- not just for the players, but for the fans as well.

On one end in purple, you had the underdog- a team that needed the victory in hopes of salvaging their season. On the other end drowned in red, you had a program rich in tradition, a favorite to win, playing at home.

The visitors won the turnover battle 4-1, played hard, despite being decimated by injuries.  The home team played well, but seemingly not well enough.

As the clock wound down to 4 seconds, the game was all but over and the underdogs would hobble off the field victorious.

Then the “hail mary” happened.

Some would consider it fitting.  Some would consider it lucky.  But from a fan’s perspective, it was heartbreaking.

Heartbreaking to watch the players give every ounce of their energy, only to come up short.

Heartbreaking to watch their reactions as the play developed, like an All-Big Ten linebacker falling to the ground as if he was a bowling pin while the winners were exploding with excitement.

Heartbreaking to see tears in the eyes of grown men, tough men.

As a fan, there isn’t anything that can be done to change the way the game was played or contribute to the result…other than wearing your lucky color and not changing seats while your team is winning…but there isn’t anything that you could have done on the field.  There isn’t anything that could have been done differently to change the staggering defeat.

But as a player, it is the complete opposite.

So what happens when a game ends like this? What is one to do? What is the right thing to say to your teammates? Most importantly, how do you get the heartbreak to dissipate?

The answer is perspective.

Perspective that at the end of the day, football is just a game.

Fans lose that perspective because of the emotional investment into our teams.  Who really hurts worse or longer is an interesting discussion.  Being in the losing locker room is unimaginable because as a fan, I was paralyzed by shock, unable to move or speak.

Mostly because I couldn’t believe what I just saw.