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Northwestern vs. Nebraska: The Morning After

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A culmination of frustration all in one single game.

Northwestern v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Throughout the years there have been times when my parents would take us to Mass during a Nebraska football game. I believe it was a way to reinforce to us what matters. I still remember listening to the Matt Davison catch on the way home from church in 1997, and my mom yelling in the car. It is still a great memory.

Last night my wife and I decided to go to Mass during the Northwestern game. I went into St. Patrick’s knowing that Nebraska had a seven point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Greg Sharpe just mentioned that Northwestern was 0-8 on third down. So I had subdued confidence that Nebraska would win.

Our kids slept through the entire service, for the first time in four years (the oldest is 4). So as any parent who has taken small children to church or any other event, know that sometimes you don’t get to enjoy being there. Last night we did. It was relaxing.

Immediately afterwards we steered our children toward the car in the parking lot. They were still a little groggy from their 5 p.m. nap. We secured them in their car seats and then I sat in the drivers seat and turned on the radio.

Greg Sharpe: “And Northwestern comes back to beat the Huskers in overtime.”

Click. Turned the radio off. Started the car and drove home in silence. It was nice. There are more important things than Nebraska football.

Still, Go Big Red.

Here’s what some in the media had to say:

Steven M. Sipple: After latest dispiriting loss, end of Riley's tenure at NU feels inevitable, Lincoln Journal Star

Mike Riley has endured his share of solemn postgame news conferences during his rugged tenure as Nebraska's football coach.

Saturday's was particularly subdued.

He dutifully answered questions, although he was mostly going through the motions. That was my read, anyway. After the session was finished, he slowly walked toward his wife, Dee, who gave him a quick hug. A few others hugged him. He smiled and gave someone a thumbs-up. He's 64. He's been through a lot as a coach. He wasn't going to let a 31-24 overtime loss to Northwestern crush him.

So, yeah, he could muster a smile.

But at this point of the season, with Nebraska at 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten, it all feels pretty awful if you bleed Husker red and hunger for sure signs of progress.

It certainly feels like the end is nearing for Riley's tenure at NU. In fact, the way the day felt at Memorial Stadium, with so many empty seats, with such an obvious lack of overall energy and anticipation for the game, it is indeed difficult to imagine Riley being brought back for a fourth season.

Tom Shatel: After unsurprising loss, only surprise left would be another year for Mike Riley, Omaha World-Herald

There are no surprises anymore with Nebraska football. The only surprise left would be if Mike Riley is back as head coach next season.

It would be hard, if not impossible, for Athletic Director Bill Moos to justify a return of this regime. The Huskers are 4-5. There are three games left, at Minnesota and Penn State and home against the Buckeye-wrecking Iowa Hawkeyes.

Even if NU was to somehow win out, and finish 7-5, well, I’m not going to finish the thought. I can’t see it.

Dirk Chatelain: Late game-changing interception about sums up the story under Mike Riley, Omaha World-Herald

“It looked like a real good play,” Riley said, “but turned into a real bad play.”

Pretty much illustrates the past 12 months, doesn’t it? The Huskers dropped to 4-5 and they did so with the same kind of sloppy, lackadaisical performance we’ve seen just about every game since the 62-3 loss at Ohio State.

Afterward, there was little anger or drama, aside from a defensive coordinator speaking gridiron gibberish. Just a silent recognition from 90,000 fans — and perhaps Riley, too — that the season can’t be saved. Just when Nebraska gets a little bit of momentum, disaster lies just around the corner.

Jacob Padilla, Huskers’ Fate Felt Far Too Familiar, Hail Varsity

As I stood on the sideline at Memorial Stadium during overtime, in the northwest corner near the end zone, I couldn’t help but get a feeling of deja vu. I couldn’t muster up any confidence in Nebraska, mostly because I’d seen this show before.

It looked a lot like last season’s overtime loss to Wisconsin last year. The teams battled to a draw in regulation despite Nebraska having a chance to win the game outright late. Wisconsin got the ball first and scored without too much difficulty, and with the pressure on, Nebraska failed to respond.

The difference is that Wisconsin team was ranked No. 8 in the country and Nebraska was 7-0. This time around, Northwestern was 5-3 and Nebraska was .500. What a difference a year can make, huh?

Erin Sorensen, Nebraska: Bowl, Mike Riley seem less secure after loss, Land of 10

Nebraska was facing fourth-and-12 from the Northwestern 27-yard line. The Huskers were trailing 31-24 in overtime, and this was it. The game — and in some ways Nebraska’s bowl game chances and coach Mike Riley’s job — were on the line.

Before the ball was snapped, a Nebraska fan walked down from his seat and into the tunnel. On his way, he slammed his hat into the guard rail and yelled expletives as he left. He never turned back around.

Eric Olson, Northwestern wins third straight in OT, topping Nebraska 31-24, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press

Northwestern has no problem working overtime. None at all, it seems.

The Wildcats' 31-24 victory over Nebraska on Saturday made them the first Football Bowl Subdivision program in history to play three consecutive games that have gone to overtime and win them all.

Zach Pereles, Northwestern-Nebraska final score: Wildcats pull out OT thriller over Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Inside NU

Another year, another thrilling contest between Northwestern and Nebraska in Lincoln.

And for the Wildcats, another overtime contest, their third in a row.

And a third consecutive win.

Northwestern (6-3, 4-2 B1G) is not a group for the weak of heart. But for yet another Saturday, it is a group of winners. The Wildcats pulled out a 31-24 win in Lincoln that featured basically everything any college football game could possibly offer.

At the beginning of the season I made a few sarcastic remarks about how super smart our current defensive coordinator is, and Sam McKewon transcribed what I believe to be the quote of the night. Diaco is super super smart.

I know this is big boy college football, but from what I have heard Mike Riley has been gracious and kind in almost every personal interaction he has had with people. That goes for both the media and individual Husker fans. He’s a good person, so I think I am still allowed to not enjoy the following two following tweets.

Last but not least, here is a quote pulled up by Josh Peterson from Scott Frost, a former Nebraska football player, in 2011 on the type of offense he would like to run. I believe Florida would probably enjoy that type of offense.

Last, but not least from this weekend. The guy is probably a Creighton basketball fan.