I have been on the sidelines for the Husker Sports Network since 2007, and been a member of the broadcast team since 2006. I can honestly say that I have not experienced a more frustrating loss during these 10 seasons.
Have there been more heartbreaking losses? Yes. Texas in 2006. Virginia Tech in 2009. Texas in 2009’s Big XII title game. Oklahoma in the 2010 Big XII title game.
Have there been more humbling? Yes. 2012 Big Ten title game against Wisconsin (hello 70+ points), at Wisconsin in 2014 (hello 400+ rushing yards allowed) and of course you can take your pick of losses back in 2007.
This game – this loss to Illinois – I rank it as the most frustrating loss. Nebraska didn’t play well. The Huskers didn’t help themselves with continuing to push the ball down field in the passing game in 25+ mph winds. The Huskers mismanaged the clock at the end of the game. Frustrating.
I fully realize that Illinois had schemed to take Nebraska’s short passing game away. They were successful at it too. However, in a game like Saturday’s against the Illini, you can’t fall into that trap and start chucking the ball downfield like the Huskers did at times. Nebraska ran the ball as effectively as they had in any of their five games this season. More than South Alabama? More than Southern Miss? Yes, I believe the running game was more effective than those games, if Nebraska would have allowed it to have been. In the Big Ten, you have to stay committed to the run, and the Big Red did not. Frustrating.
I won’t get into the final minute of the game. It’s been documented. It was poorly managed by the Huskers, and I’m sure they would do it completely different if given the chance to do it over again.
In a game full of frustration, there were positives:
Devine Ozhigbo – The freshman running back just may emerge as Nebraska’s feature running back before it’s all said and done.
Kevin Maurice – He responded in a huge way in the absence of Vincent Valentine and Kevin Williams and delivered 8 tackles.
Maliek Collins – The All-American candidate looked like his old self on Saturday, pushing o-lineman into the backfield and harassing Illinois QB Wes Lunt.
Chris Weber – The walk-on Linebacker was some kind of special on Saturday. He may be another in a long line of inspirational Husker walk-on stories.
No time to lick the wounds if you’re a Husker. 2-3 is not anywhere near the record you had hoped for, and yet here come the Badgers: the Big Ten nemesis of the Big Red. Wisconsin is smarting themselves. They’re mad also. This is going to be a game between two teams, trying to jumpstart their seasons and create some momentum.