It had to happen, right? Nebraska couldn't be good forever. There was going to be that one year, that Nebraska slipped from it's pedestal and joined most of the rest of the entire country. It had to happen, right?
A game that could have been Nebraska's to lose was a game that Nebraska did everything they could to do just that. Two early turnovers and more penalties than you can count put Nebraska in a hole that not even the ready defense could get the team out. In all honesty, if not for a defense that seemed to have learned it's lesson (to a degree) from two weeks ago, this would have been yet another game of blowout proportions.
As for the offense, it was offensive. Only a solitary touchdown pass to Ross Pilkington made a game seemed winnable, but again, Nebraska's offense proved to be ineffective at best against a quality team. It's become quite clear that whether it's the play calling, the execution or the players themselves, this isn't your dad's Big Red machine.
Former Husker and ESPN analyst, Trev Alberts said that before this game, it was bad in Lincoln and if NU didn't win this game, he wasn't going back. Trev probably won't be alone as at a point where Nebraska just watched a record 348 weeks on the AP top 25 fade away, it's best to be away from the bullseye, because there is a target squarely on the capital city right now.
Nobody is free from the crosshairs on the program right now. Not Solich, not Bohl and not the players. All are now going to be under more scrutiny than ever, but in a much different light. The question is no longer how good they are, but how bad.
When a team is trying to find itself after a disappointing end to last season, continuity has to be the start. Everyone on the same page, with the same goal in mind. Nebraska isn't that and while some may be trying to win, others may simply be trying not to lose. This is as close to desperate as Nebraska has been in a very long time.
So, where do you go from here? Nebraska still has only one conference loss with the team that just beat them having one of the more brutal schedules yet to go. Also, Nebraska will have some quality teams to play that will be an opportunity to get back on track. The hope is there. Unfortunately though, the hope and the reality are two entirely different things.
The plane ride back for the Huskers will be one of questions, more about themselves than anything. What went wrong? What has gone so terribly awry that the Huskers find themselves in a position to lose more games than they have in almost 40 years? Not a pleasure trip to be sure, but if you think it's miserable now, just wait until they get back and actually have to put it into words. You can't explain a game like this. A game that brought tears to the Huskers themselves.
Get a kleenex though, because from the way it looks, there may be yet more tears to dry.
Talk about this story on the message board.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or call 402-730-5619