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The Morning After: Wisconsin

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The state of Nebraska wakes up from another nightmare loss. We have what you're looking for here.

David McGee

Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald: Huskers have it covered on ways to lose

Back in December, the most popular criticism of the Mike Riley hire was his record. That sounds kinda funny when you say it, but it’s true. He was 153-148 in three different places (Winnipeg, Chargers and Oregon State).

How do you hire a guy who’s five games over .500?

The rebuttal: Without five-star talent and billion-dollar facilities, Mike Riley had done well at Oregon State.

I’ll admit, that’s what I believed. If you sent Urban Meyer or Nick Saban to Corvallis, he’s not winning conference championships every year. He might not even win one. Don’t judge a cook by the meal when you don’t know his ingredients, right?

Riley deserved a chance with resources and tradition. At Nebraska, he was going to get it.

Six games into his first season, the people who believed in Riley are scratching their heads and the people who criticized Riley are saying, "I told ya so."

They’re saying what they said in December: Winners find ways to win. And losers find ways to lose. If a coach has been mediocre for 30 years, he’s probably going to remain mediocre.

Nebraska lost Saturday to Wisconsin because it let itself lose. It didn’t find a way to win.

Tom Oates, Madison.com: Resilient Badgers prove they still know how to win

It has become apparent to one and all that this University of Wisconsin football team is not the one we’ve watched for years.

These Badgers are struggling to move the ball on the ground. They’re throwing it all over the yard. They couldn’t even run up a pinball score on Nebraska, for crying out loud.

But for all the things UW has seemingly forgotten how to do this season, there is one vital trait the Badgers still possess: They know how to win.

Steve Sipple, Lincoln Journal-Star: Football Gods smile on NU, then send harsh message

Those who question Riley's inner fire perhaps liked seeing him flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct while expressing his displeasure that a Wisconsin defender wasn't called for pass interference in the third quarter. Riley said he didn't cuss.

There were plenty of others cursing at Memorial Stadium.

I'm not going to pile on, except to say I agree with the football gods. At some point, we all have to help ourselves.

Nebraska's defense is beat-up. The injury issues can't be overlooked in season assessments. It's borderline ridiculous, although Vincent Valentine's return helped fortify the middle.

But in the end, Nebraska's woeful pass defense didn't pass muster. Joel Stave was flinging the ball around in the final minutes as if he were Kenny Stabler (rest in peace). And largely because of the injuries, no doubt, the Husker defense grew weary, which affected its run defense.

Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald: A half-season of Husker heartbreak ends in silence

Are the football gods angry with Nebraska? Is one of them a Bo Pelini fan?

These are the mysteries of the world, along with the Hail Mary to BYU, the overtime with Miami, the third-and-seven against Illinois and now the sounds of the Wisconsin game.

Those sounds. More than what I saw, I will never forget what I heard on Saturday.

First, the roar of elation. What a sweet sound. When Andy Janovich burst up the gut and rambled 55 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 3:38 left, it was a noise you could feel on top of your skin.

It was the sound of utter joy. The sound of a season turning. The sound of hope. Nebraska fans know this is not a championship team. What they want is hope. They want a reason to believe in Mike Riley.

Janovich gave them one. People jumped up and down. Players danced on the sideline to a song blaring throughout the stadium. The sounds of a program waking up?

Then came the sound of anguish.

Brandon Vogel, Hail Varsity: Make your own luck

"One thing, obviously, we’ve been talking about is winning the fourth quarter," defensive coordinator Mark Banker said after the Huskers did not. "As time has gone by, the stat line doesn’t lie."

Banker then noted that, entering today, the Huskers were giving up about four points per quarter through the first three, but about 11 in the fourth. "I don’t know what today adds," he said.

Since the stat line doesn’t lie, here’s an update: Nebraska is now giving up between 4.0 and 5.7 points per quarter in the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the Huskers have allowed 13.2. To put it another way, Nebraska has allowed 84 points through the first three quarters in six games thus far. It has given up 79 in the fourth.

Banker was asked if he’s been able to identify why the fourth has been so brutal on Nebraska this season.

"No," he said. "If I could it would make them less tricky. We’re still working on it."