Last week instead of writing Five to Win, I wrote an article about the expectations of the fan base and how it has hurt the football program.
One of the main complaints I read in the comments was aimed at my criticism of those who continue to reference the 90’s. People in the community were upset.
Many of the replies to my article could be paraphrased as the following: “The majority of us don’t believe that, we just want to be national relevant.”
It bothered me so much, before contributing to Corn Nation, when a national writer would complain about how Nebraska firing Bo Pelini even after nine wins because they want to return to the glory days of the 90’s.
I still stand by every word in my article. Especially after listening to Nebraska sports radio over the past week where five separate sports shows, in both Lincoln and Omaha, all spent at least half a segment, talking about the unrealistic expectations of the fan base. So it is not just Corn Nation.
Those radio shows are hearing from those fans, and so are we. I know it isn’t the majority, but it is a very loud segment of Nebraska football fans. My column was addressing them.
Two signs that perfectly illustrate the sad state of affairs that is Nebraska Football. First, the Purdue Boilermakers lost to Rutgers last week and yet opened as a 6.5 point favorite over Nebraska.
Second, finding five reasons Nebraska will beat Purdue is going to be incredibly difficult.
Sad. Sad. Sad.
But anywho, here we go....
TANNER LEE IS QUIETLY PLAYING (BETTER) AT THE QUARTERBACK POSITION
For the second straight week, I do not have statistics to back up this point. It might be just the eye test, and it might just be that I compare him now, to how well he was playing at the start of the year.
If you don’t count the fluky interception against Wisconsin, Tanner Lee has protected the football. If he does that against Purdue, then it should be more than enough to win.
Also, the connection between J.D. Spielman and Tanner Lee could become pretty special over the next one-and-a-half seasons.
From Sam McKewon - Nebraska’s midseason offensive MVP: JD Spielman
Nineteen of Spielman’s 31 receptions have been on third and fourth down, and 17 of those 19 have produced first downs. His 14 third-down catches are tops in the Big Ten and fourth nationally. He’s No. 1 — in the league and the nation — in fourth-down catches.
The Lee-Spielman connection was the lone bright spot in the mortality affirming game that was Ohio State vs. Nebraska.
AFTER CONSECUTIVELY PLAYING TOP 6 TEAMS, PURDUE SHOULD FEEL LIKE A VACATION
To me, playing Wisconsin (currently ranked 5th) and Ohio State (currently ranked 6th) would be the equivalent to a point guard trying to bring the ball up the floor against great man-to-man pressure. The point guard spends a lot of energy and stress just trying to do the “simple” thing like dribble the ball up the court in order to get the offense set up. There are going to be turnovers, and the point guard is not going to be as active as otherwise because he/she has spent so much energy dribbling that they might not want to worry anything else.
Conversely, playing Purdue should be equivalent to a point guard bringing the ball up the floor with no pressure at all, and smoothly starting the offense. The stress level is almost nominal and he/she will have energy to do so many other things during the game. It’ll feel like a vacation.
Now will this vacation be like spending money to get on a plane to fly across country to go to your mother-in-law’s house? (Not my mother-in-law, she is awesome amazing and so incredible. I’m talking about YOUR mother-in-law)
Or will the vacation be like sitting on the beach in North Carolina with a cool breeze flowing through your hair?
(RUTGERS BEAT PURDUE) + (NEBRASKA BEAT RUTGERS) = NEBRASKA SHOULD BEAT PURDUE
I took calculus in high school and trust me, the above equation is irrefutable. This is how sports always works and there has never been an exception to this rule. Right?
But seriously, I was really high on Purdue during the early part of the season and it seems like they are regressing back to where most people thought before the season started. Especially with the loss to Rutgers.
If the fact that Purdue lost to Rutgers is what you are hanging on for hope when it comes to this weekend then don’t read the following paragraph.
Purdue out-gained Rutgers 474 to 217 in total yards. Also, Purdue had 25 first downs to Rutgers 8. So the loss feels like a fluke, but that is what turnovers can do.
DEFENSE CAN ONLY GET BETTER
I know it is my job to try and find the correct numbers, but I don’t feel like going into a deep pool of despair if I actually found it. But I believe that going back to last season Ohio State has scored a touchdown on 11 straight drives against Nebraska. And I don’t think that Ohio State has punted against Nebraska since 1948.
The numbers could be wrong, but I do not want to go down that dark depressing melancholy hole that is Nebraska football against Ohio State.
With that all said, listening to Bob Diaco talk about this defense gives me hope. And I would like him to stick around.
Note: That does not mean I think if Nebraska is looking for a new head coach that the administration should require that Bob Diaco sticks around.
Bob Diaco does not lack confidence.
“There is no doubt that we are going to create a great defense. We are going to create the best defense in the country. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just going to take take. As these gaps are eliminated and minimized and eliminated for every play. And the players are good enough to do just that. The ones on the team, and the ones we’re trying to have join the team.”
I believe we will see a much improved defense against Purdue. I mean - it can only get better right?
I hope to bring back the RADD (Robert Albert Diaco Defense) next week against Northwestern.
TIME TO MAKE OR BREAK THE SEASON
With the exception of the Northern Illinois loss (yes it was terrible), Nebraska is actually doing as well as we expected when it comes to wins and losses.
But the past six quarters of football have been embarrassing. Well, now Nebraska has the next fives games to show Nebraska fans how good of a team they could be. Time to show the new Athletic Director that Mike Riley should be the coach for the foreseeable future.
In regards to the Penn State game looming ahead. Let’s just expect an embarrassing blowout. Maybe if we lower our expectations enough, then it Nebraska might be able to keep it close through a quarter or so.
But if Nebraska can go 4-1 over the next five games and there is noticeable obvious improvement then there can be an argument for keeping Coach Riley. And as so many fans have said, I really like Coach Riley and I want him to succeed but...
How will Nebraska do against Purdue? (+6.5)
This poll is closed
Nebraska will win
Nebraska will lose but cover.
Nebraska will lose and not cover.