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The Morning After: Despite The Flaws, This Is A Team Nebraska Fans Can Finally Rally Behind

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Past Nebraska football teams would have folded being down 13-0 at halftime. This team didn’t and Nebraska fans are starting to take notice despite another tough loss.

Michigan v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

In his column, Steven Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star wrote that “Nebraska was ‘this close’ to changing the conversation surrounding the program. You know the one. It’s the conversation that says Frost’s crew is “this close” to breaking through and taking off toward being a consistent factor, or even a force, in the Big Ten and even on the national scene.”

He’s not wrong, though I would add one thing. The conversation has already been changed. Not that I need to remind anybody but remember the conversations after the inexcusable Illinois loss? That was a rough week.

Then the close loss to number three ranked Oklahoma. Then a game in which Nebraska should have beaten an almost top ten team in Michigan State, only if the punter had punted right. Then an absolute dominate performance last week in a 49 point win over Northwestern.

Now we get to simmer an another close loss to the Michigan Wolverines where Nebraska was “this close.”

That is three losses by a combined 13 points against teams that are now a combined 18-0.

We need to remind ourselves how far this Nebraska team has come even in just this season. The conversation has changed from the loss at Illinois. Now Nebraska fans and players are looking forward to when the conversation will get to change again.

Until that happens it appears there needs to be more pain and suffering for a dedicated fan base.

The game last night offered a variety of scapegoats. In particularly the officiating was poor and it wasn’t one sided. I mean, Jim Harbaugh had to call a timeout because the officials misplaced the ball by seven yards because they were so focused on what ended up not being a penalty while at the same time missing the Michigan offensive lineman tackling Damion Daniels.

The Adrian Martinez fumble not being called dead was the killer. It is a hard call because it appeared the pile was still moving though Martinez himself thought the play was dead. Martinez after the game said as much, “I cannot be careless with the football. I thought the play was over. I was standing as I am standing right now, and I thought it was done.”

Another scapegoat could be Scott Frost not kicking the field goal in the beginning of the first quarter. Instead he went for it. My initial thought was that he needed to get points there. However, I do not think that was the difference in the game as there were 3.5 more quarters in the game for things to have gone different. Plus, if they failed then Michigan starts with the ball on their own three yard-line.

It’s one of those things that if Nebraska converts then it looks like the right call. Since they didn’t convert then we can question it. While I wish Nebraska had the points, I’m fine with Frost having confidence in his offense.

Speaking of confidence in his offense, it had zero at halftime. Besides the screen pass to Rhamir Johnson in the first possession, Nebraska could not move the ball. I said that Nebraska is going to get shutout.

Something changed in the second half and they came out fighting. You could see a change in the defense as well. They appeared to get run down and then when the offense came out and started putting up points the swagger came back.

Nebraska’s teams in the past would have phoned it in at halftime. The writing was on the wall. The Huskers weren’t going to be able to score and the defense was going to get run down.

It did not happen last night and it hasn’t happened all season. That is why this is a team that Nebraska fans are happy to rally behind. There is a level of fight, physicality and competence that we have not seen around these parts since Frost was here.

Frost I think appears to echo that sentiment as he said after the game, “This team loves each other. They love coaches, coaches love them. This is a tightly knit team. And, gosh, I’m proud of them. We’ve come so far. I thought tonight was the night. In games past, when we have gotten ahead I got the sense that everybody was thinking what is going to go wrong, and I didn’t feel that at all tonight. It was different...I am having a lot of fun coaching these guys this year, and I am hurting for them more than anything, but I am so, so happy for them and proud of how far they have come.”

Things are different and I hope fans realize that as we suffer again through another tough loss.

“That was as much fun as I have ever had coaching a football game, with the fans, the way they were in the stadium and the way we responded, and they (Michigan) are a damn good football team, I give them a lot of credit.”

Give this staff and the players credit as well. They have already changed the conversation once. Now they need to do it one more time.


The Morning After

Game Balls: Who stood out against Michigan?
Nebraska football played Michigan close on Saturday night, grabbing the lead a few times, but the Huskers couldn't leave the stadium victorious.

Report Card: Huskers hang, but grades reflect flawed game
Nebraska got shutout in one half and scored 29 points in the second, but couldn’t overcome its own mistakes enough to leave with victory in a 32-29 loss to Michigan.

The Huskers hung tough, came all the way back, but couldn't get the necessary stop or that necessary final score to win.

Grades: Michigan 32, Nebraska 29 | Football | journalstar.com
Chris Basnett weighs in with his report card from the Huskers' game against Michigan.

Steven M. Sipple: Nebraska plays at level of Top 25 team only to again experience heartache | Football | journalstar.com
A sellout crowd was ready to party late into the night. An entire fan base was ready. In the end, though, there was more heartache.

McKewon: Both Nebraska and Michigan deserved better, more timely Big Ten officiating | Football | omaha.com
There’s not much excuse for the Big Ten’s officiating work Saturday night, writes Sam McKewon. Perhaps it hurt Nebraska a little bit more than Michigan, sure. In general, it was

Husker Report Card: Grading Nebraska's performance against Michigan | Football | omaha.com
After each game this season, The World-Herald's Sam McKewon will hand out his Husker Report Card, assessing Nebraska's performance in several areas. Here are the grades coming out of the

McKewon: First The Punt. Then The Fumble — a new form of Husker pain | Football | omaha.com
There was The Punt at Michigan State two weeks ago. This time it was The Fumble against Michigan — a new form of Husker pain on a thrilling night in

Shatel: Nebraska vs. Michigan was a roller coaster ride with an ending that left you woozy | Football | omaha.com
I’ve covered a few games over the last 30 years where Nebraska found valor in defeat, where the team grew from the pain and became better. But the program really

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Forward progress. It can refer to the decisive Adrian Martinez fumble, writes Dirk Chatelain, or — believe it or not — it can refer to what the Husker football program

Nebraska Defense Refuses to Break in Final Minutes of Michigan Loss - Nebraska Football - Hail Varsity
To conclude a second-half shootout, both the Nebraska and Michigan defenses made plays. After Adrian Martinez's fumble, the defense held firm to give the offense one more chance.