LINCOLN, Neb. – After another tough loss, losing in the final minute or overtime for the fourth time this season, Nebraska is 2-4 on the season. The last time that happened, head coach Mike Riley was just six-years old.
Riley is 62.
You can do the math.
Just two games into Big Ten Conference play, Nebraska is out of the Big Ten West division title race.
A trip to a decent bowl game? That will be a tough task.
Still, the first-year head coach is maintaining a positive attitude for his team.
"He's always told us that he likes the team that we have,” said quarterback Tommy Armstrong. “We're young, we have younger guys. We have guys that are injured. We're coming up short defensive-wise, with injuries and guys going down, things like that. We've got guys that are stepping up. We've got to realize that it's a long season ahead of us.
“Offensive-wise, we've got to understand that we've got to take control of the game, score every time we get the ball, and put our defense in the right situation to win games. Our defense is playing great. Coach Riley even said that we've just got to make sure we do what we can to win games and put ourselves in the right situation.
Just minutes after a 23-21 loss to Wisconsin, Riley was asked the message he had for his team.
"For the guys that are older. Guys like Maliek (Collins) and Vince (Valentine) and Jack (Gangwish) and Alex (Lewis). I named a dozen guys and so what we need is those guys leading the rest of the crew,” said Riley. “I said, 'I don't know about what's ever going to happen, I can never predict that, but one thing I do know is you've answered the bell every time and we're going to continue to do that.' We're going to go back to work.”
Senior defensive end Jack Gangwish, a captain, said he didn’t give a message to his team after the loss on Saturday afternoon. He felt Riley’s message was all they needed in the moment. His message will come later.
“Moving forward through this week the message is going to be, it's another week it is a new life. We still have goals,” said Gagnwish “You know we want to come out next week firing on all cylinders."
The question becomes - what are those goals and how bad does Nebraska want them? That will be a question for Monday.