Coach said it: "I had planned on (Ron Brown) leading the (postgame) team prayer, but my talk ended up being the team prayer. Basically a prayer of thanks for these guys and these coaches." -Barney Cotton
Player said it: "We came out and we played hard. We played with passion or all four quarters and we didn't give up. There's not more you can ask other than that as long as you play tough all four quarters." -Alex Lewis
Player said it, Part II: "The best roller coaster I've been on." -senior cornerback Josh Mitchell of his Husker experience.
Right call: Go for it or kick the field goal on fourth-and-3 from the 31 in the final minutes? Barney Cotton and staff made the absolutely right call to go for it. It seems odds were about the same, if not better, of Nebraska picking up three yards as making a 48-yard kick. Get the three yards and you're still driving to win. Make the kick and you're tied. And while freshman kicker Drew Brown has shown promise, he was just 2-of-7 from beyond 40 yards this season. "We were just outside the envelope of our field goal kicker," Barney Cotton said. "We had a line in the sand and we were outside of that line in the sand as far as kicking it."
The touchdown that wasn't: Husker junior left tackle Lewis thought he had scored a touchdown in the first quarter on a trick play where Tommy Armstrong threw a throwback pass to the O-lineman. Armstrong let the pass go at the 16 and Lewis seemed to catch it at the 16, rumbling for a score. Officials ruled it a forward pass to a lineman and flagged it. "When we called it, we just looked at each other and said, 'All right, let's do it,'" Lewis said. "We didn't tell the officials. I don't know if the coaches did before the game. As long as I was behind Tommy, it was going to be a legal pass but I guess I was right there on the edge."
The trick that failed: Facing second-and-goal from the 3 in the third quarter, the Huskers direct-snapped the football to Ameer Abdullah, who appeared as if he might attempt a pass. The play was a disaster. Abdullah lost seven yards. It's to second-guess after the fact, and it was a throw-everything-against-the-wall kind of game by Nebraska, but ... it was a cringe-worthy sequence by Nebraska. Two plays later, a snap hit Tommy Armstrong in the facemask on a fourth down. NU was saved by a false start penalty before the play, which allowed them to kick a field goal. But you don't have to think hard about how big a touchdown would have been there.
Riley's appearance: From everything I hear, Mike Riley performed well during his appearance in the ESPN booth during the game. He has a straightforward approach that is tough to not like. He also seems like someone who is just comfortable in his own skin. Before the game, he did a four-minute interview with local reporters and said he'd name his staff in seven to 10 days. His ending line to media: "Look forward to working with you. We're going to have some fun."
Representing: Obviously USC had more fans. The game was in its own backyard. But I think it'd be fair to estimate that Nebraska had at least 15,000 fans. And they got loud as the Huskers made their charge in the fourth quarter. In the final minutes, with both fan bases starting to get nuts, one Holiday Bowl rep was heard telling another: "What a game we got. What a game we got."
Lasting image: Not many better scenes than the one at midfield after the game. Most Huskers were already in the locker room. Ameer and his position coach Ron Brown shared a long, emotional hug that lasted for what seemed a minute. It was quite a picture.