Forgive Nebraska football fans if they're a tad grumpy this week.
After all, Saturday's 28-21 loss to Texas A&M was Nebraska's first regular-season conference defeat since 1992, when No. 7 Nebraska stubbed its toe against lowly Iowa State.
For a little historical perspective, when Nebraska dropped that game to the Cyclones, President Clinton hadn't yet been sworn in for his first term and Monica Lewinsky was just another student at Santa Monica College in California.
The A&M loss was the topic of conversation Monday around the state, where there is no other major college football program or professional sports team, and where there's a billboard across from Memorial Stadium proclaiming "Welcome to the center of the football universe."
Heck, even Gov. Ben Nelson weighed in on the matter at his weekly telephone conference call with reporters.
"The year is not gone. All is not wasted," said Nelson, a Nebraska alumnus and big football fan. "There is still a lot of opportunity out there."
Saturday's loss snapped Nebraska's nation-leading, 19-game winning streak and dropped the Cornhuskers, who had been ranked second in both major polls, to No. 8.
Simply being ranked in the Top 25 would be cause for giddiness in most programs. But this is Nebraska, which hasn't had a losing season since 1961 and has won or shared five national championships since 1970 -- an average of abot one every five years or so.
Gums were flapping Monday at the Straight Edge Barber Shop in downtown Lincoln.
"We've got a good group of guys, but the leadership isn't where it was the past few years," said barber Dick Olson.
Some fans blamed the defense; others sniped about the offense. Some went right to the top and directed their venom toward the coaches.
It was the first loss for new coach Frank Solich, who took over this season for the revered Tom Osborne.
Solich made no excuses.
"They beat us because they played better," he said.
Many fans, however, were philosophical.
Salesman Joe Crosswhite said the Cornhuskers probably will use the setback as a springboard, just as they did after the 1992 loss.
"You get used to winning -- everything," he said. "Maybe this will get them focused."
"I think they're going to be a better team now," he said.
After that Iowa State loss, Nebraska became better -- lots better.
The Cornhuskers went on a 67-4 run before Saturday that included national championships in 1994, 1995 and 1997.
"If a loss is what it takes to make another great run, so be it," Crosswhite said. "That still doesn't mean I have to like it."
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