The Nebraska Cornhuskers are sitting at No. 16 in the polls with only one loss and Husker football fans are justifiably feeling pretty good. Considering how many sucker punches have been dealt to the records of seemingly untouchable teams over the past few weeks, the Big Red’s sitting pretty.
What’s the biggest obstacle in the path of what may be called Bo Pelini’s best team to date in terms of performance? Itself.
The McNeese State Cowboys have their moral victory against Nebraska and the Michigan State Spartans have one that actually matters. However, even if the Huskers match up with Pat Narduzzi’s defense again, a Big Red machine that purrs like a kitten should be able to finally rumble its way back into the national spotlight.
In fact, if that scenario happens, former Nebraska defensive lineman Jason Peter feels confident about the Huskers’ chances.
“If you took those lineups from Michigan State and from Nebraska, put them in front of me and said, ‘you have to pick one of these. Who would you take?’ I’d take Nebraska every time,” Peter said during a recent interview. They’re better football players, at least on paper. Michigan State, those guys wanted to win.”
Nebraska fooled us all with its first half performance against the Northwestern Wildcats. The second half showed not only a team that could win the Big Ten West, but earn the Huskers their first conference crown since the new millennium began.
Peter made an excellent point when he said:
“There are plays, there are quarters, there are halves of games where if they could (perform consistently) for four quarters for 13 games per year, then you’ve got something. I realize it’s easier said than done, but that’s what makes teams great.”
It’s hard to argue his point considering Northwestern looked ready to dish out some payback for Jordan Westerkamp’s heartbreaking catch last season after two quarters.
Swapping out offensive linemen who opened holes for Ameer Abdullah made all the difference. Tommy Armstrong became a legitimate threat on every play. De’Mornay Pierson-El proved he needs to be on the field more often than not.
In short: Nebraska looked like a team that could’ve joined Ohio State and Michigan State by putting up 56 points if it executed properly for four quarters.
Having a line of hosses up front that can make way for Abdullah and actually give Armstrong time to make his reads is great, but Peter feels there’s another aspect to Nebraska’s offense holding them back from again being in the national spotlight:
“When you look at college football, great teams usually have great quarterbacks. You look at the NFL, it’s been a quarterback-driven league for some time now. I’m not saying that Tommy can’t be that guy, but in terms of having that guy who’s really, really good? Not yet.”
He noted Armstrong’s youth and said that being an elite signal-caller isn’t out of the realm of possibility by the time his career as a Husker ends. Even while still enrolled at the School of Hard Knocks, Armstrong’s unteachable talents take some of the pressure off.
It’s clear that Peter doesn’t think Armstrong’s a scrub, let alone the surrounding cast considering how he feels they should end the 2014 season.
“To me, there’s no reason Nebraska should not be able to run the table. Maybe get another shot at Michigan State, maybe at Ohio State, whomever in that Big Ten Championship. I give them another loss…maybe in the Big Ten Championship game. I don’t see any reason why (Nebraska) needs to finish this season with more than two losses.”
As long as the Huskers can keep their foot on the pedal for four quarters without stopping for gas, Peter’s right.
Considering who’s on the roster and how they’ve performed, this team has no excuse for not being evidence that The Process is working.