I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn
“Torn,” Natalie Imbruglia
In a season-defining, career-defining, program-defining opening game, Nebraska lost to Northwestern 31-28. Nebraska lost despite holding an 11-point lead twice in the game. Nebraska had chance after chance as the game wound down to pull the game out, but fell short yet again.
Nebraska is now 5-21 in one score games under Frost, including 0-9 since 2021. Nebraska is now 15-30 overall, reaching the stage where they’ve lost two games for every one win.
We can dissect the details of the game, including the decision to try an onside kick (a reckless but aggressive one which, at the time, I was fine with).
But, really, this isn’t about Xs and Os anymore, is it? You know what it felt like, Husker Fan. The bad break that lead to a slide and the late-game collapse. Be honest, once Northwestern took the lead, did you think that Nebraska was going to win?
I didn’t. And it sure looked to me like no one wearing scarlet and cream did either.
Please hear me, I’m not calling the players quitters. But in the fourth quarter, it looked like those uniforms weighed a thousand pounds. That the players felt the weight of every close loss, every dashed hope, every suffering Saturday throughout the Nebraska fanbase. It’s quite a lot to ask college kids to bear that weight.
I honestly don’t know what to do now. I thought about waiting for a few days before writing anything, so I wasn’t writing something for public consumption while being so up in my feelings about this.
But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this is the honest part.
For the whole week before the game, my friends and family kept asking if I was excited for the game. And I kept saying no, and it was true. I wasn’t excited. I was dreading it.
Apparently, for good reason.
So now what? I know you’ve come here for years now to hear about how Nebraska football connects us to our history and how we can all stick together in all kinds of weather and all that rah-rah jazz.
Right now I’m just pretty numb inside. I am all out of faith.
I never thought I would look myself in the mirror and realize that I don’t want to go to Lincoln next week for the North Dakota game. I have consistently referred to Memorial Stadium as my favorite place on earth.
Now? The thought of being one of the greatest fans to pass through those gates just fills me with sadness.
I’ll will go, more than likely. The season tickets are my parents’ and having the opportunity to spend that day with my mom is a gift I would be a fool to turn down.
But Nebraska football isn’t fun anymore. It’s an obligation. It’s muscle memory on a Saturday afternoon.
I can hear myself saying to stay the course, to take in the pageantry, to live in the hope that something wonderful will happen.
So I will probably be there, performing the rituals I have since I was small. Chanting the chants and clapping slightly off-beat to the band. Hoping to find some solace in that familiarity.
But I’m out of faith in this program. Maybe it will come back. Maybe a win over Oklahoma will wash the taste of this Irish debacle out of my soul.
In what might have been the most don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it events, Nebraska last week announced their alternate uniforms for the 2022 season. Here’s the announcement on Twitter.
The uniform is an homage to the 1983 “Scoring Explosion” team, which is utterly appropriate. You can see above what the new threads look like. Ordinarily we’d go into a piece-by-piece breakdown of the uniform.
Except … we’ve kinda seen it before. In 2017, Nebraska wore an homage to the 1997 team that had the same mesh numeral concept. Really all that’s different is the sans-serif N on the sleeve and the stripes on the pants (more on that in a moment).
That’s it, that’s the list. And I can tell you from experience, the mesh on the numerals is not at all visible live and barely visible on TV. So basically we’ve got the same concept as 2017, and including the N that Nebraska already puts on its practice jerseys.
As a result, we aren’t going to waste your time breaking this thing down. Let’s just talk about what should be obvious.
Bring. The. Stripes. Back.
Look, I know I’m a bit of a radical on Nebraska uniforms – I think they should change the numeral font on the jersey to match that on the back of the helmet, and the original scoreboard clock, of which there is a replica inside Memorial Stadium (if you’ll pardon that dope and his kids standing in front of it). Fer crying out loud, they had a proof of concept in 2018 and it looked awesome (and would have been so much better without the silly helmets).
I get that’s not going to happen. But the stripes can happen. The stripes should happen. Heck, the team already has striped pants to practice in.
I understand that Frost wanted to change something in the uniform to bring it back to the glory days when he won a national title here. But, honestly, 2022 feels like an opportunity to reboot from the first three years of Frost’s time in Lincoln.
What better way to do that then to get rid of the white yoga pants and put the stripes back where they belong, all the time.
Once we get that sorted out, we can then work on getting “The Cornhusker” and “Thunderstruck” played at proper times every home game.
NEBRASKA ALTERNATE UNIFORM POWER RANKING
The infamous trash bag uniforms, which had numerals which literally couldn’t be read from the stands. The two-toned helmets were pretty cool, but overall the unis were a disaster.
Mystifyingly, adidas took its disastrous 2014 concept and made just a slight tweak, putting it on a black background instead of a red one, and made the uniform only marginally less horrific.
These original (well, except for 2009) throwbacks get far more hate than they deserve, especially how well they combined with Wisconsin’s to make a truly memorable spectacle. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, Wisconsin had the better unis that night.)
The first road alternates Nebraska has worn ended up making good use of the trash-bag silver, working them into an ice concept that ended up very sharp.
The concept was brilliant, to pay homage to the 1997 team by replicating the mesh uniforms. And while it came out great, it was also hard to tell the unis apart from normal ones on the field during the game. (In full disclosure, this picture is also my avatar on an unsettling number of websites).
Yes, the 2022 version is entirely derivative from 2017. But the N on the sleeve makes it just the tiniest bit cooler.
Even early in the process, adidas got this one right. The basic black uniforms, the different-but-legible stencil numerals, and the overall simplicity gives this one a place of honor in the Nebraska alternate uniform pantheon. The unique stenciled numerals and (of course) the stripes on the pants give 2013 the nod over 2019.
Yes, Nebraska has never actually worn this outfit, but it doesn’t make it any less sharp (especially with the scary Hallowe’en motif for which I am a total sucker). Once you’ve swallowed the concept that the Blackshirts logo is for the whole team – which took some work – then it’s hard not to love this set.
I really do love a monochrome uniform set as an alternate (or unless you’re the Seahawks). And mainly because you can’t really see the camo unless you look hard, this set is incredibly clean. The old-school NU logo on the helmet is a nice change of pace without the helmet looking dramatically different, and the typeface on the numerals is unique and sharp.
And then there’s the stripes. Those blessed, amazing, gorgeous stripes matching the shoulder sleeves and making the uniform connect rather than wearing yoga pants. Hopefully a bellweather of things to come.
OK, I admit it, these things have grown on me to the point where they surpassed the 2013 set, something I didn’t think would happen. Now, if Nebraska goes the full Darth Vader and rolls out with these shirt and the 2020 black pants …
Anything that involves old-school numerals, a shout-out to the Stadium Clock, and the full In the Deed The Glory inscription is going to be hard to beat. If it wasn’t for the silly helmet, this one would be the one to beat. Also, adidas, why could I not buy an “18” jersey with the cool 8 numeral, instead of getting stuck just buying a “1.” Just take my money already!
Because of the three-year hiatus, these gorgeous threads frequently get left out of the alternate uniform consideration. That’s a shame, because these throwbacks, with the curly-Q numerals and numbers on the helmets, have yet to be surpassed. Quite honestly, Nebraska could go to these uniforms as their regular ones tomorrow and I’d be quite happy (as long as they put the stripes back on the pants, natch).
Every year for some time, we at the Double Extra Point have done a game-by-game prediction of the upcoming season. After the last few years, and with all of the changes to the program, guessing the 2022 season seems like an even more daunting task than normal.
But we’d hate to disappoint you. So once more unto the breach we go. We will use the same technique we have before, breaking games into four categories:
BETTER WIN: Expect to win all of the games
SHOULD WIN: Expect to win more than half of the games
MIGHT WIN: Expect to win less than half of the games
WON’T WIN: Expect to win none of the games.
Once all the games are categorized, we’ll add everything up and see what the system tells us. In addition, as always, we will also make a Fearless Forecast of each game (and with all the uncertainty this year, it’s way more Fearless than ever).
NORTHWESTERN (Aug. 27, 11:30a, Dublin, Ireland)
In the most obviously make-or-break season this century for Nebraska football, it is truly unfortunate that the first game of the year is both against a conference foe and played on a different continent. The Purples don’t appear to be a much better team than the one Nebraska drubbed last year in Lincoln. But Northwestern is the kind of team that Nebraska has struggled with under Frost, a team that grinds, doesn’t make mistakes, and waits for the opponent to beat itself.
Under anything close to normal circumstances, Nebraska should be heavily favored. But given that the game is early, and in Ireland, makes a game that Nebraska simply cannot lose all the more challenging.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17
NORTH DAKOTA (Sep. 03, 2:30p, Lincoln, NE)
A home opener against an FCS opponent would have been a far softer start to Nebraska’s season. The F’ing Hawks come off a 5-6 season last year, but run an aggressive blitz-all-the-time defense that could cause a team like Nebraska problems if everything goes right.
(Yes, I know they’re the “Fighting Hawks.” But the college hockey fan in me can’t resist the dig)
Regardless of how the Ireland game goes, Nebraska should have a comfortable return to Memorial Stadium
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 55, North Dakota 17
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (Sep. 10, 6:30p, Lincoln, NE)
A night game for Georgia Southern does seem a little unusual, but these are unusual times in which we life. The Eagles bring their option-style offense to Lincoln to challenge Nebraska, in yet more evidence that the world has been turned on its head.
But this is another game that Nebraska should be able to handle. Let’s just hope they get wise and give us “Thunderstruck” in the third quarter again.
Last year, the Oklahoma game seemed like such a lost cause that I played in a Marvel Crisis Protocol tournament rather than watch what seemed to be an inevitable embarrassment. Shows what I know, as Nebraska took the Sooners to the fourth quarter with a chance to win, and I got smoked in my tournament.
This year, the game is in Lincoln, which (assuming Nebraska is 3-0) should make for an atmosphere unlike any we’ve seen since Miami came to town. Oklahoma’s got a new coach. Nebraska (in this scenario) comes in as confident as they’ve been. The stars are aligned for Frost to get his signature win.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 28, Oklahoma 24
INDIANA (Oct. 01, 6p, Lincoln, NE)
The Hoosiers looked primed to becoming a consistent force in the B1G East. Then, 2021 happened. Indiana went 2-10, and the momentum built up seemed lost.
Like Nebraska, Indiana will be looking to rebound from a disastrous season. But with the game in Lincoln and the talent differential still in place, it looks to be a tall order for the Hoosiers.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 31, Indiana 20
RUTGERS (Oct. 07, TBA, Piscataway, NJ)
The Scarlet Knights look to be on the rise with Greg Schiano’s return to the Birthplace of College Football. And Rutgers went to one more bowl game last year than Nebraska.
It’s a long trip out to New Jersey to face former Nebraska quarterback Noah Vedral. Rutgers is still likely a year or two away from competing at the top level, but this game has danger written all over it for Nebraska.
Fearless Forecast: Rutgers 24, Nebraska 21
PURDUE (Oct. 15, TBA, West Lafayette, IN)
Nebraska and Purdue really do feel like mirror images of each other, with Boilermaker head coach Jeff Brohm entering the league just two years before Frost, and both promising to bring dynamic offensive changes to the staid B1G.
Purdue’s 2021 season was a glimpse as to what Nebraska’s could have looked like, going 9-4 by getting close wins against Illinois and Michigan State and beating Iowa soundly. While Nebraska has a talent advantage over Purdue, the second road trip in a row feels like a big ask.
Fearless Forecast: Purdue 28, Nebraska 17
ILLINOIS (Oct. 29, TBA, Lincoln, NE)
Nebraska can’t lose to Illinois three times in a row, right? The last two games against the Illini have been embarrassing for Nebraska in different ways. In 2020, Illinois came to Lincoln and manhandled Nebraska. In 2021, Nebraska found seemingly every possible way to give the Week Zero opener away.
Bret Bielema brings a very particular style back to the B1G after his days in Wisconsin. He has yet to put the team he wants together, though, and it’s very hard to see Nebraska dropping a third straight.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 23, Illinois 10
MINNESOTA (Nov. 05, TBA, Lincoln, NE)
P.J. Fleck is in many ways a perfect villain for Nebraska fans. He brings a very slick presentation and puts off a used-car salesman vibe, and his “culture over talent” dig at Nebraska after last year’s game should stick in the craw of Nebraska fans.
Beating the Gophers in Lincoln would be a good sign that this is the year Nebraska gets out of its own way and starts to turn a corner.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 31, Minnesota 21
MICHIGAN (Nov. 12, TBA, Ann Arbor, MI)
Boy, it was close, wasn’t it. Nebraska was on the cusp of a real signature win, leading Michigan until the last three minutes of the game. Beating the Wolverines, a playoff team last year, would have changed the entire perception of Frost’s tenure, and may very well have led to more wins last season.
A trip to Ann Arbor is daunting, though, and Michigan’s talent is better than Nebraska’s. Even with how close the game was last year, it’s asking a lot to get this win.
Fearless Forecast: Michigan 28, Nebraska 20
WISCONSIN (Nov. 19, TBA, Lincoln, NE)
There a few constants in the universe, but one seems to be that Wisconsin has a great offensive line and question marks at quarterback. The same holds true this year, with Graham Mertz being the deciding factor between Wisconsin challenging for a B1G West title or not.
Even with the game in Lincoln, given the history it’s very hard to say that Nebraska will beat Wisconsin until we actually see Nebraska beat Wisconsin.
Fearless Forecast: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 17
IOWA (Nov. 25, 3p, Iowa City, IA)
OK, Husker Fan, now can we say it’s a rivalry? We’ve seen Keith Duncan walk Iowa off the Memorial Stadium turf with a field goal. We’ve seen Nebraska lead Iowa 21-9 before a blocked punt triggered yet another collapse.
Iowa’s defense might be the best overall unit in the B1G West this year. And Iowa’s offense under Kirk Ferentz has always been like a zombie hoard – slow-moving, predicable, utterly relentless, and waiting for you to make a mistake so it can eat your soul.
(Hey, Hawkeye Fan, that’s a compliment)
This should be like Wisconsin, in that you don’t expect Nebraska to beat Iowa until Nebraska beats Iowa. But it’s time. Call it the Gambler’s Fallacy if you like, but there’s no way Nebraska gives another game away to the Hawkeyes.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 30, Iowa 23
OK, so let’s see what our system tells us about Nebraska’s 2022 season
BETTER WIN (expect to win all)
MIGHT WIN (expect to win less than half)
SHOULD WIN (expect to win more than half)
WON’T WIN (expect to win none)
That puts Nebraska at 7-5 for the season, which should be enough progress to keep Frost in Lincoln. The Fearless Forecast is a little more optimistic, showing Nebraska going 8-4 with a win on Black Friday.
One of the most fascinating – and consequential – season in recent memory is about to dawn for Nebraska Football. Frost once said that if Nebraska does turn a corner, it’ll turn quickly. Given how strong recruiting remains even off a 3-9 season, a proof of concept season for Frost and his new staff could really be a launching point.