On Saturday, interim head coach Mickey Joseph got his first win when Nebraska beat Indiana 35-21 on Homecoming. Nebraska held a 21-7 lead in the first half, but the Hoosiers went on a 14-0 run to end the first half tied.
Indiana went into the locker room with all the momentum, and Nebraska fans felt like they had seen this movie before. The third quarter didn’t help. Every time the game seemed like it was turning Nebraska’s way, something bad would happen. Sometimes it was an inopportune penalty. Sometimes it was an ejection of a key player. In one series, Nebraska got a turnover and a chance to take control, and promptly turned the ball right back to Indiana.
Nebraska fans knew what was coming next. Early success. Self-inflicted adversity. And when push comes to shove and the game is on the line, Husker Fan, you know what’s coming.
For years, Nebraska fans solaced themselves with being *that* close, knowing that mythical corner was about to be turned. A smart and particularly handsome analyst went through Nebraska’s history under Mike Riley and Scott Frost trying to show how the gap was closing and soon, soon, wins would come.
And boy weren’t we desperately looking for that corner to turn. This dope thought it might have been Nebraska’s 56-7 win over Northwestern last year might have been the turning of that mythical corner for NU.
Instead, it was Nebraska’s last win for almost an entire calendar year. Any corner the Northwestern game turned just ran into a brick wall.
So why is this different? Why should you, Husker Fan, invest even a tiny bit of hope into this program?
Well, first, Frost is gone. And as it turns out, Frost may have been quite the fraud as a head coach. Now he’s gone and Joseph is in charge. And it seems like he might be a popular guy with the team.
But here’s the big reason why you should not immediately dismiss those feelings of optimism. Sure, Nebraska beat Northwestern last year and it felt good. But there was no time in that Northwestern game where Nebraska faced adversity. No time where that team felt a “here we go again” moment in the second half. No time where the ghosts of close losses passed had a chance to be exorcised.
We saw that moment on Saturday. Once Casey Thomson hit Trey Palmer for that long touchdown, it seemed like finally – finally – Big Mo was wearing scarlet and cream at the end of the game. And the defense – yes, that defense – twisted the screws and shut Indiana’s offense out.
So now, for the first time in a very long time, a Nebraska team can feel the weight of collapses past ease a little on its shoulders. Now when the next moment of adversity arrives, instead of “here we go again” Nebraska can think “we’ve done this before.”
It’s no guarantee, of course. Nebraska’s got to play a game in Piscataway on a Friday night, which is a recipe for weirdness.
But at least now Nebraska has had a little taste of success, of overcoming adversity. Let’s see how it responds now that it has that taste of blood in its mouth.