Nebraska football is giving an excellent lesson in astrophysics over the last few weeks of the season. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to watch a star collapse in on itself under its own weight with the naked eye. Instead, look at the Husker defense to get an idea of a true implosion. Not clear on how to illustrate radio waves traveling through a solid medium? Watch opponents move right through Nebraska’s offensive line. As the football season drags on, especially after a 51-24 loss to Minnesota (5-5, 2-5), Nebraska’s season is all but over. And, much like the inevitable heat death of the universe, Mike Riley’s time at Nebraska is headed to its end.
There are, Husker fans, two games left on the schedule and a big scary one looms on the horizon. Nebraska travels to the Worst Place on the Planet to battle with the Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-2) in what could end Nebraska’s flailing bowl hopes. Just a week after the Husker defense gave up 409 yards on the ground to a very bad Minnesota offense, the Blackshirts will face off against one of the best running backs in the country. Not only does Saquon Barkley lead Penn State with 899 yards on the ground, he’s also 2nd on the team with 40 catches on the season. He’s truly the kind of player that makes any defense look silly. Not to mention that quarterback Trace McSorley (a name that sounds like a Texas QB from the 80s) is 2nd on the team with 349 yards on the ground. Rushing quarterbacks have brutalized Nebraska this season so, you know, buckle up.
Anyway, how can Nebraska win? Lots of ways. Let’s ignore my helpful hints again this week, entire coaching staff. Here we go.
Run the Ball
Tanner Lee, before leaving the game with an injury, was 13-18 passing for 174 yards and a touchdown. Patrick O’Brien, in relief, was 12-18 for 137 yards. A pretty solid day for quarterback play at Minnesota. And Nebraska only managed to score 21 points on a bad Minnesota team. Recently, Mike Riley’s offenses have actually performed worse when his quarterbacks are at their best. It doesn’t make a lot of sense but its there (except when it was Tommy Armstrong but let’s not go there right now). In his senior season at Oregon State, Sean Mannion threw for over 3,100 yards but only 15 touchdowns in a 5-7 season. Matt Moore threw for over 3,000 yards but only 18 touchdowns. His teams struggle to score when the quarterback has to do it all himself. Again this season, we see Nebraska move the ball into the red zone only to completely stall. RUN THE BALL.
Although that didn’t help last week. Nebraska had zero turnovers and lost to Minnesota by 27 points. I don’t even know anymore.
Get an Opening Drive Field Goal and then Hope That Weather Cancels the Rest of the Game
I really hate to use the “quit” word when talking about college football players but that really seems like what’s happening at Nebraska. If their hearts aren’t in it then they have absolutely no chance of winning against anyone, let alone one of the best teams in the Big Ten. As I said before, the end of the Mike Riley era is coming very soon at Nebraska and I think the players know it. It has to be incredibly difficult to get up and ready to play in a crumbling environment like that. Let’s hope that the players can find a way to keep the game competitive and give themselves a shot at the end.
- 9.1 – yards per carry for Minnesota’s rushing attack last week.
- 318 – yards per game given up by Penn State’s defense so far this season.
- 200.1 – rushing yards per game given up by Nebraska’s defense.
- The bass riff from “Seven Nation Army” for 3.5 hours straight.
- Confusing play-calling on 4th down.
- A very reliable source telling your cousin’s co-worker, who is almost always right, that a former player just told him that Scott Frost has signed a 10-year, $20 million deal to be the next head coach at Nebraska.
Nebraska 10 – Penn State 54