During the first half, it wasn't a matter of whether you were going to cheer, but if you were going to lose your voice or not. Yeah, some fans thought that based on what NU has done this year, even this game, against even this team would be more dramatic than it probably should.
The first half was exactly what the bookmakers expected, the fans hoped and on paper, what was going to happen in the game.
For the first time this season, Nebraska had both their one and two running backs get over 100 yards rushing and for once, Lord wasn't the leading rusher on the team. Horne with over 120, Diedrick with just over 100, the running game was working and working well.
From the outset, the only thing stopping the NU offense was either penalties or turnovers. But, to NU's credit, they were able to keep them to a minimum, allowing NU to sustain drives and chew up the clock.
On the defensive side of the ball, what NU lacked was what NU has always lacked this entire year, consistency in pass defense and a pass rush that was all but inept unless Nebraska blitzed.
Obviously, the lack of the latter made the former very hard, but NU's pass defense is a young squad just trying to get by however they can. There's certainly talent and there's no doubt about the aggression, but fans will have to look to next year before this unit has any real game-to-game success.
As you might have noticed, I have pointed to the first half as most of the story concerning this game. There's a reason for that.
Nebraska came out right away in the third, put together and very nice and very short (in time) drive to put Nebraska up 31-7. Following that was a punt return by Aaron Terpening for a touchdown that came off what looked to be a block by NU, but not on the ball, rather the punter's leg. That made it 38-7.
Later in the third, Josh Davis ran the ball in for a touchdown, sealing the game up 45-7. And, then came the fourth quarter.
Don't even think that NU couldn't have scored, even with so many reserves on the field. They showed that when MU mixed the calls up even slightly, the Huskers were able to move the ball down the field quite easily.
That's just what Solich didn't do.
You can give credit to Solich for a lot of things and most of them have helped to keep this team at least upright in a very tumultuous season, but when this guy wants to shut down an offense, he has a gift.
NU did just that, calling it about as vanilla as you can, making the last quarter more ugly than anything. Reserves had nothing to do with it, this game was over, NU had won and it appeared that the NU staff was satisfied with that.
So, Nebraska gets the victory and they are now bowl eligible. With that burden off of their shoulders, now the burden of that 9 win season still hangs tough.
You can't take anything away from a game like this other than the fact that NU stayed healthy, they didn't do much to kill themselves and in a situation where they were supposed to win and big, NU came in and did that.
Nothing spectacular, just getting it done and getting the W under the belt. Coach Frank Solich has proved that he isn't about the flash, he's simply about the substance and there's little doubt he will come away satisfied (to a degree) with this victory.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619