The Huskers play Northwestern on Saturday afternoon in what has become an important game. So important that a blogger could be excused for thinking it was the most important game of the young season. For one thing, the Wildcats are a half-game up on Nebraska in the division, so a win would solidify the Huskers’ slippery grip on second place. For another, a win, especially a convincing one, would go a long way to wash away the foul taste of the loss last week, in which Nebraska allowed 63 points to supposedly average, but still ranked, Ohio State.
A third reason for focusing on an opponent that is an afterthought for most programs is that Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini has, perhaps unwisely, made winning the remainder of his team’s games something of a goal. The first step in winning the rest of them, of course, is to win Saturday. Mr. Pelini has surely noticed the increasing heat on his seat.
I am willing to admit such criticism of Mr. Pelini may be unfair. But he is stuck in a rut. Observe the chart above. Mr. Pelini’s tenure began in 2008, and he clearly exploited the fairly solid recruiting of his predecessor, Bill Callahan. In 2009, Mr. Pelini turned in a stellar season, narrowly losing the conference championship game and causing doughy chests to puff out all across Nebraska. In the past two seasons, however, progress has been harder to measure.
Nine wins is pretty good, it says here. But it still may not be good enough.
With the uncertainty of the season right now, not many kids are going to consider a school that may not have their head coach at the end of the year…
…In year five of the program Nebraska’s defense bears an alarming resemblance to the defense Pelini found when he arrived in 2007.
On Sunday, the first BCS rankings were released h/t ESPN. Unsurprisingly, Nebraska was nowhere to be found.
It feels like a rebuilding year, like next year is the year they’ll take the next step. The problem is, it has felt like that during every season of Bo Pelini’s tenure.
- Northwestern football notebook: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini ready for QB tandem (suntimes.com)
- NU run defense prepares for playmakers (omaha.com)
- Nebraska Football: How Cornhuskers Win Out, Win B1G Legends Division (bleacherreport.com)