Last weekend was a huge eyeopener for Husker Nation. We were all able to see exactly how far this team is from competing for championships. Granted Nebraska is still undefeated in conference play, but I’m guessing Nebraska is going to be down a game in conference play after this weekend. Nebraska will be starting its conference play against the Michigan Wolverines this Saturday in another morning game, which I absolutely despise.
This week I’m going to lump penalties, special teams and turnover margin into one reason. Penalties have killed the Huskers in the first two games this season. I tried to erase last Saturday from my memory, but one thing I do remember is the joy the student section brought me. I called it after the Colorado game that students were going to bring in the fake flags, and lo and behold the students came through. As much as penalties anger me, seeing those fake flags flying around the student section is always hilarious. In terms of special teams, Nebraska’s kicking has been atrocious. Barret Pickering has missed two of his three attempts this season. Granted he is a true freshman, but missing out on three points in each of the last two games has hurt the Huskers. If he made those two kicks Nebraska would’ve had the opportunity to kick a game winning field goal in each of the first two games. The turnovers have also been killer for the Huskers, the offense has turned the ball over six times, and the defense has only intercepted one pass in the Troy game.
The Big House
Nebraska is going on the road for the first time this season, not to mention it’s happening in the Big House. There are going to be some 110,000 in the stadium this Saturday all cheering against the Huskers. One of the nice things about going to the Big House is that Scott Frost went to the Big House with UCF in his first season as the head coach. With that being said, I don't think that is going to matter that much. The Big House is a tough place to play, and going in there looking to knock off a contender for the Big Ten East is going to be a humungous challenge. This is one of the hardest places to play in the Big Ten, and the Huskers are going to get rattled playing in this environment.
The Quarterback Situation
It’s no secret there was an offensive production drop-off going from Adrian Martinez to Andrew Bunch. No disrespect to Bunch because I think he played well, and definitely good enough to beat Troy at home. To me it seemed like Frost was holding Bunch back from throwing the ball down the field so Troy was just able to load the box and stop the running game. It didn’t help when Nebraska was putting itself behind the chains by getting penalties on what seemed like every drive. Bunch did have some misreads in the option game and his late game interception reminded me of a pass Tanner Lee would’ve thrown last year. No matter what, whoever the quarterback is going into the Michigan game it’s going to be a quarterback who has had one start under his belt. Adrian Martinez gives us the best option to win at Michigan, but we need to look at the future more than the present in a situation like this. Troy Walters and Frost have both said the decision will be made on Saturday with what is best in mind for the future of this team.
Michigan’s a Good Team
I’ll admit I haven’t watched much of Michigan this year because of Nebraska. I go to the games and tailgate before so I haven’t seen much besides box scores. The one thing I have seen across social media and ESPN is that the Michigan defense is good. To me it seems like the Wolverines don’t have any problem holding opposing offenses from scoring a lot. They only have three interceptions on the defense, but I predict they’ll add at least a few more turnovers into their stats after this game. Not to mention, Michigan has a good offense. There’s a lot of playmakers on its offense including Shea Patterson. This offense is going to score on Nebraska, and the Huskers offense is going to need to keep up.
“Not Buying In”
This is something Nebraska fans know well after hearing this all year in 2015 up until the upset win over Michigan State at home. I don’t think this is the same situation because I feel the players think Frost can turn this team into winners. I think the main difference between this team and the 2015 team is that players don’t know exactly how to work, and I also believe they don’t know how to win because of the damage Mike Riley did to this program. It’s coming to the point where I feel like Nebraska needs that one signature win to get the train rolling this season. After that, I feel like this team can go places with a very high ceiling. Will this week be the signature win? We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon.