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Report Card: An Ohio State University 56, Huskers 14

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Ten years after a watershed home loss, it happened again by another OSU team. Is this the end for Mike Riley?

Ohio State v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Ten years ago this weekend was almost certainly the beginning of the end for Bill Callahan and Steve Pederson. Oklahoma State raced out to a 38-0 halftime lead, and the writing was on the wall. Pederson was fired two days later, and Callahan knew his days were numbered.

As Ohio State raced to a 35-0 halftime lead against the Huskers, people started to draw the parallels. But there is one huge difference between the two situations: 2007 Oklahoma State was a 7-6 team that finished up the season in the Insight Bowl.

Ohio State could very well win the Big Ten and end up in the College Football Playoff. Ever since an eight minute brain fart against Oklahoma, the Buckeyes have steamrolled everybody in their path. This week, Nebraska got flattened.

Last night I started trying to lay the case against Mike Riley and his staff; today, I deleted most of it. Frankly, the point is meaningless at this point. Army and UNLV (with Barney Cotton as offensive coordinator) held up better against Ohio State than the Huskers did. This game is over.

New athletic director Bill Moos doesn’t believe in firing coaches midseason, but he has replaced underperforming coaches before. For those of you who still claim to the mistaken belief that Nebraska “can’t afford to fire another coach”, the World-Herald’s Henry Cordes reports that Big Ten revenue is increasing to $50.6 million from $26 million in 2016-17.

In 2013-14, it was merely $16.5 million; it’s tripled over the last five years for an extra $35 million each and every year. The money is there to do this right. That’s not a license to just spend money to spend money ridiculously (i.e. paying Bruce Read $450,000), but it gives Nebraska the ability to hire a proven coach. There’s no reason for Nebraska to not pursue the best coach out there.

It’s not going to happen this week; we have a season to finish out. Nobody is taking the Nebraska head coaching job in October or November. You may not like Mike Riley, but he’s the best guy for the next six weeks or so. Don’t let your dismay about the current state of affairs shake your fandom. Change is CLEARLY afoot, in my opinion.

Stay strong, Husker fans. We’re going to get through this, though it’s going to be a rough few weeks. The one thing we can do is remain united behind the players and the administration as they try to steer the good ship Husker away from the iceberg Riley hit head on. We’re taking on a bit of water, but the leaks are being plugged.

This ship is not going down.

As for this week’s report card? Well, it’ll be abbreviated because there’s no sense belaboring the point. Your comments, as always, are welcome.

QB: It didn’t really show up on the stat sheet, but Tanner Lee played better than just about everybody else wearing red. If you don’t want to admit he played well, let’s just say he sucked less than everyone else. No turnovers, and frankly deserved a better completion percentage. Grade: C

I-Back: There wasn’t any running room out there, especially in the first half in those tight (constipated) formations that Riley seems to love. Devine Ozigbo ran better than Mikale Wilbon, for what it’s worth. I suspect that Wilbon isn’t anywhere close to 100%. I do like the idea of putting both backs in the game in a split back, like we saw in the second half. That’s an offensive wrinkle worth exploiting more. Grade: D+

Wide Receivers: J.D. Spielman made more than his fair share of plays; I’m not sure much of anybody else did. Drops, drops, drops. I think Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf finally figured out in the second half that they’ve been handcuffing the offense by playing so many heavy formations with multiple tight ends. It constricts the running game and limits the passing game with few targets. Grade: D- (only because of Spielman)

Offensive Line: Nick Gates continues to regress from his freshman form, when he was a third-team all-Big Ten honoree. Mike Cavanaugh continues to stubbornly refuse to substitute even in a blowout; as far as he’s concerned, there’s no point in trying to develop depth. Enjoy your upcoming retirement, Mike. Grade: F

Defensive Line: Expecting a three man line to generate much of a pass rush against an offensive line like Ohio State probably is asking a little too much. Still, any would have been better. Tackling would have helped as well. Grade: F

Linebackers: I’ve got a lot of mixed thoughts here; Dedrick Young and Chris Weber put up big tackle numbers - way downfield. Lots of people out of position; when you rush three and drop eight into coverage, receivers shouldn’t be that free underneath. Grade: F

Secondary: Injuries really hurt here, but the only thing worse than the pass coverage was the run fits. Just an atrocious performance. Is it time to start questioning cornerbacks coach Donte Williams on-the-field development? Star recruiter, but cornerback play has been a major issue this season. Grade: 0

Overall: F Going into this game, I thought Mike Riley could get a pass this week because fans weren’t expecting a win. But fans should have expected the team to compete; that didn’t happen. Riley’s margin for error has pretty much disappeared; every remaining division game really is a must-win at this point.

Poll

Grade the Huskers performance against Ohio State

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A Great effort from the junior high squad.
    (31 votes)
  • 3%
    B Basically, I didn’t watch.
    (36 votes)
  • 1%
    C I was watching the Cubs play the Dodgers.
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    D Disappointed by the effort.
    (58 votes)
  • 8%
    F Failed in all aspects of the game.
    (98 votes)
  • 2%
    G Good golly, did the Huskers stink it up.
    (27 votes)
  • 11%
    H How the heck did the Huskers get this bad?
    (124 votes)
  • 6%
    I I don’t know how this staff survives the season.
    (70 votes)
  • 7%
    J Just give Mike Riley more time to recruit his way out of the hole he was left.
    (86 votes)
  • 51%
    Z Zero chance this staff turns things around; the firings happen right after Thanksgiving.
    (574 votes)
1118 votes total Vote Now

Elsewhere in College Football

Washington State F Mike Leach had a bad weekend; a bad upset loss in the wee hours of Saturday morning, then his boss quit to go to Lincoln.

Purdue B- Kept it within one score in Madison against the Badgers. The Huskers will be the underdog in their next game.

Central Florida A+ The sentimental choice of many Husker fans to be the next head coach of the Big Red continues to impress.

Michigan C+ Captain Khakipants needs a quarterback.