Quick Foster Farms Bowl Primer: Nebraska

Dec. 7 -- We take our first look at the 5-7 Huskers, under new head coach Mike Riley...

Head Coach: Mike Riley (98-87), first year at Nebraska, previously the head coach of Oregon State from 1997 to 1998 and then again from 2003 to 2014.

Known For: Farting sunshine, belching rainbows

Riley is aw golly gee shucks just about the nicest head coach you'll ever meet. He's also a pretty damn fine pro-style offensive mind, but that makes him an odd fit for Nebraska, which made its historical bones running the option with a bunch of corn-fed offensive linemen. This year, Nebraska had some real growing pains translating its players to Riley's scheme, with none looking so ill-fitting, at times, as quarterback Tommy Armstrong. Riley was able to mold some good offenses out of some pretty under talented Oregon State teams over the years, so it's likely that he'll be able to make some good offenses out of the talent he gets at Nebraska over the next few years. But he has definitely had a rocky start to his tenure in Lincoln, with the athletic director even having to give him a vote of confidence earlier in the year when Nebraska fell to 3-6.

Mascot: Herbie Husker and Lil' Red, both of whom probably give small children nightmares.

Best Offensive Player: WR Jordan Westerkamp. Westerkamp has had one of the best seasons ever for a Nebraska wide receiver, which sounds really impressive until you remember that Nebraska was running the option for most of recorded history. Still, Westerkamp is a very good receiver and will require special attention on the defensive end.

Best Defensive Player: S Nathan Gerry. Gerry has been a ball hawk for the Cornhuskers this year, recording four interceptions while also leading the team in tackles.

Breakdown of season/team: Nebraska had some crippling bad luck to start the year, losing on a last-second Hail Mary against BYU, then two weeks later losing to Miami on a game-winning field goal in overtime, and then, a week after THAT, losing on a last-minute touchdown pass to Illinois, and then, a week after THAT, losing on a last-minute, 46-yard field goal to Wisconsin, and then, two weeks after THAT, losing by two points to Northwestern after having a fourth quarter lead. Nebraska's first five losses this year came by a combined 13 points. In total, Nebraska scored 390 points and gave up 333 points, which, in a just world, probably should have resulted in a winning record. It's probably fair to assume that Nebraska is one of those mythical teams that is truly better than its record would indicate, which could make this a tough challenge for the Bruins.

Best win: against No. 3 Michigan State (39-38)

Worst loss: to 2-10 Purdue (55-45).

Fun Fact: Nebraska lost four games EVERY SINGLE YEAR under Bo Pelini. Sometimes the Huskers would win ten, sometimes nine. But Pelini was always good for four losses in his seven years with the Huskers. Consistently decent enough -- that'll get you fired every time.


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