Numbers. They have a funny thing about not lying to you.
36 points, 653 yards in Pasadena.
63 points, 498 yards in The Horseshoe
70 points, 648 yards in Lucas Oil Stadium.
45 points, 589 yards in Orlando.
On Tuesday afternoon, brought to you by a day that makes the City of Orlando's Visitor Bureau's job very easy, Nebraska had every opportunity to help not only themselves turn a corner they haven't come close to, but to also join in with their B1G conference mates and make a stand to show the Midwest is really something when it comes to football.
However, like several of their conference mates also, Nebraska couldn't find a way to finish the deal with a song that remained the same.
The numbers were thrown out on twitter after the game, but to remind you: in Nebraska's four losses, an average of 53.5 points were given up, and an AVERAGE of 597 yards were given up. Please, PLEASE let that sink in. almost 150 yards and over 2 touchdowns a QUARTER given up in every loss, which by the way, the offense scored no less than 30 points in each game of those 4 losses.
Now, there are many reasons people found for this game to get out of hand. The Big 12 officiating is normally the first thing I have seen. While atrocious for both sides to be honest, it wasn't the reason for a loss. Claim the two "pick" plays for Georgia TD's sure, but Nebraska has benefited from those this season (Jamal Turner's game winner vs Michigan State comes to mind).
Personal fouls, especially against UGA SS Shawn Williams? I'll listen there too, as when Taylor Martinez had a 4th Quarter interception, Williams decided to make Taylor a prime target, followed by a (clean) blindside hit later on. I get the anger about the interception blocking, but I wonder why none of Taylor's teammates came to his defense. Maybe that's looking too deep into it, but eventually, don't you have to say enough is enough and have your teammates back?
What destroyed Nebraska's chances in the second half and especially the fourth quarter was, bottom line, a defense that had a lot of Senior "leadership" yet couldn't get off the field the whole game save the final 15 minutes. 12-14 on third down for Georgia kept the momentum in the Athens group when it was there for the Huskers to get their rushing attack on the field.
Offensively, I don't think you could ask much more than you got for the first 50 minutes from Nebraska save for a bad Martinez judgement. The Abdullah fumble was a killer, but so was the Cotton personal foul and the back to back penalties on Andrew Rodriguez. The offensive line, that was so good rush blocking all game, became a ticket taking gang when pass blocking was needed for a comeback.
What is most frustrating, however, is calling this a "moral victory" as I saw very quickly after the game. Is Georgia a top 5 team? You bet they are, and they could have very well been playing in Miami on Monday night instead of Alabama. However, the Huskers lead at half, and were tied with the Bulldogs come the end of the third quarter. This game was for the taking for Big Red, and instead they came out with a fourth quarter that felt a lot worse than the 14-0 that showed up on the scoreboard. Two touchdown tosses from Aaron Murray to both Keith Marshall (improvisation at their best) and Chris Conley (Nebraska went casino and lost, badly), were the daggers that came from it.
In a way, you could say this game was a microcosm of the whole season for Nebraska. The first half a back and forward tussle (games 1-6), the third quarter where Nebraska got their momentum back (games 7-12) and then the fourth quarter, the team just didn't have enough to get the job done (B1G title game and bowl). This game was winnable, just like Wisconsin was. And, in the end, there is disappointment and questions to answer.
Now, of course, here comes my "Bo shouldn't be fired" line, and it's true. However, I did mention after the debacle in Indy that something has to change. Too many high profile games have been shown the last couple of years where the Huskers come out not on top. In the postgame presser, Bo spoke of next year and how this team is talented and should compete hard. It's true, Nebraska should honestly start all of at least 7-1 at the bare minimum heading into Ann Arbor vs. Michigan.
However, there are some severe deficiencies that have GOT to be nailed. Defensive line for one, and safety help is needed. Offensive line does need more talent, and the hole at Tight End is going to be glaring with your top 2 gone.
Ten victories and four losses. We all spoke of taking this at the beginning of the season, and there is a lot to be proud of. But it is such a empty feeling to know that there was so much more for this team on that December afternoon in Indy, and where it's fallen to now. Another year without a conference title, another non-BCS bowl appearance. And, another four loss season.
Moral victories? No, not this year. Programs that are in the top five all time in victories and a team that was favored to win their conference can't claim a 14 point loss against a SEC team in a Florida New Year's bowl a moral victory, because that shouldn't be their expectation.
Maybe it's harsh, but in year five of Bo, I honestly expect more than giving up 600 yards and 50 points in losses, and to beat a Wisconsin team that finished 8-6. I expect more than the offensive line coach going to a Omaha paper and inviting all comers to talk to him about how he's done his job (by the way, if you're reading this Barney, you are welcome anytime to come on either Detasseling the Huskers or we can have our own Husker Corncast with you and I, just name the time to record). I expect a process that should be yielding more results than 10 win seasons and good job-good effort come January's bowl game.
We should expect more from Bo with all his coaches, all his players, his schemes, and his program. Five years is beyond enough on the job training. The man who taught you everything he knows has retired as of yesterday and the face of the program has played his last game for you. Your offense is full of octane and depth, but your defense becomes green and has a lot of positions that need the young men you've recruited to step up.
Get ready for the offseason folks, it's upon us whether we like it or not, and it's going to be interesting in a lot of ways.