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A loss like this is a tough one for my new friends

LINCOLN, Neb. -- I can now speak from experience, and there’s no way Daisy gives milk this morning.

Hay, I’ve been eye to eye with the old girl, and instead of mooing this morning, knowing her the way I do, she’ll probably be booing. My new pal, Bob Wuebben, can tug all he wants, but when the local farm boys get rolled like they were Saturday night in Memorial Stadium -- their own version of “tanking” -- I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone around here doesn’t just wander off into a cornfield not to be seen again until spring practice.

I worry, though, because we’re looking at the opening of deer season here in a few weeks, with all these people roaming the prairie upset and with guns in their hands. It just might be a good time to hit the road and get back to California.

WHEN ASKED Friday night by Samuel McKewon from Nebraskastatepaper.com for a prediction, my guess was 42-17 -- with most of the so-called Huskers faithful leaving by halftime.

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It was 42-17 with 12:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, my mistake, but then the exit started -- everyone trying to beat the tractor traffic after the Trojans had slapped 49 points on the board.

That’s 49 points against the vaunted “Black Shirts,” the fans in the stands standing, screaming, and holding their hands crossed in front of them to urge on the defense. Now don’t you feel silly?

How many more points might it have been had Pete Carroll not allowed the Huskers to save face in the fourth quarter? Let’s hope Ball State shows the same kind of mercy next week when it comes here, the Cornhuskers’ schedule getting tougher and tougher.

To heck with pork belly futures. Once again there will be no national championship any time soon for these single-minded settlers, gracious as always like their fans, though, and going out of their way to make it a laugher for USC sideline supporter Will Ferrell. “Big Red,” instead of a cornpone cheer today, is the color of Nebraska embarrassment. For the rest of the year, like so many in recent memory, everyone will have to talk about the glory days of Tommie Frazier to kill time.

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The folks here like to boast they are the greatest fans in sports. If so, and they did everything they could to rally their heroes, then their heroes really aren’t very good.

And yet there was an argument all week in the newspapers and on the radio about whether the fans should rush the field and tear down the goal posts after winning.

But fortunately the Trojans in attendance left everything as they found it when they arrived.

No question, this was supposed to be the biggest game in many a year around here, and yet in hindsight, Idaho proved to be a tougher foe for USC.

ONE YEAR ago the Cornhuskers came to the Coliseum and played for a moral defeat, UCLA then going on to hire Jay Norvell, who had been a part of the Nebraska brain trust, to oversee the Bruins’ offense.

How’s that working out?

Nebraska hired Bill Callahan after he went from coaching a Super Bowl loser in Oakland to being just a loser.

How’s that working out?

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YOU SPEND a week in this place and you deserve a raise.

But in addition to something so obviously overdue, you also get the chance to meet a lot of very nice people who sure have a lot emotionally invested in a crummy football team.

The Husker Honk, a.k.a. Mary Bornschlegl, who kept me off the streets after the frat boys didn’t want to see me in a toga, promised to “scream her guts out” when the Cornhuskers took the field. I think you understand now why I passed on the chance to sit in the stands, opting instead for the soundproof press box.

The Honk started the day fired up, leaving her home at 7 to line up outside the Side Track bar opening at 8 a.m., which is dedicated to firing up Nebraska fans -- as if they need any help.

She wasn’t alone. These people wait all year for this, this Saturday ritual dedicated to the hope they will witness great memories to forever cherish. Or, failing that, just get drunk.

The bar’s band appeared onstage around 11, everyone jumping to their feet to sing, “There’s no place like Nebraska,” and then toasting one another with a beer.

Joyce, the lead singer, announced they had a special song for the “infiltrator,” referring to Page 2. This prompted the band to launch into “It’s a Small World,” only around here they apparently don’t know the words, singing instead, “It’s a Small, Small Thing.” Mickey Rodent would not approve.

Joyce went on to sing “Fat Bottomed Girls,” and I have no reason why, before bringing everyone to their feet once again for “There’s No Place Like Nebraska.” And another swig of beer.

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By noon, I had heard “There’s No Place Like Nebraska” six times, and the opening kickoff was now seven hours away.

WHEN IT came time to begin tailgating, I was taken to an area housing RVs. That pretty much put an end to the party, as far as I was concerned, vowing to never again to get that close to a chamber of horrors.

Before leaving, though, RV partyer Larry Martinez wanted me to know, “You live here and you can actually hear the corn grow.”

He was right, as I learned -- when the fourth quarter began.

TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Dr. Gregg Peterson:

“Wearing the corn-cob hat over time creates a condition now known as ‘ethanol head’ whereby the resultant fumes coagulate at the pineal gland resulting in a victim’s desire to live in delusional seclusion with visions of pigskin grandeur -- to the detriment of their offspring, who’s scarred DNA will forever pass down this mutant red gene. As awful as this sounds, there is a pleasurable side effect -- they willingly kill their own pets to feed you.”

There’s no place like Nebraska.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. For previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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