COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Nebraska football coaching staff is reeling after its team’s 63-38 loss to Ohio State on Saturday.
With the team’s second loss of the season, its first in Big Ten play, the Huskers fell out of the rankings for the second time this season. They aren’t where their coaches thought they would be at this point in the season. They’re struggling to win games against marquee opponents and, according to coach Bo Pelini, the Huskers have to change that.
“I just told the football team (after the game), we need to win out,” he said. “We need to win out. That’s the only way we can guarantee our football team will get to Indianapolis.”
With a bye week ahead, there is sure to be some reshuffling for Nebraska. Pelini said the whole team will be evaluated during the break. “Execution” is the only thing keeping it from winning the big games, he said, and finding the right players to get that done is the key.
There is still time for Nebraska to win the division and even the Big Ten race. Ohio State, possibly the best team in the conference, is ineligible, and games with the Huskers’ top competition in the Legends Division, Michigan and Michigan State, remain. There is still time for the team to turn things around before it is too late.
“It’s just a matter of your perspective,” said running backs coach Ron Brown. “People turn things around. You saw Wisconsin last year. They went through losses like this, and they still went to the Big Ten championship game and went to the Rose Bowl … Hey, why not us?”
Blowout road losses have haunted the Huskers over the last few years. Games against Wisconsin, Michigan and South Carolina produced them last season, and a point was made in the offseason to avoid suffering similar losses this year. After failing to avoid a blowout on Saturday, they are right back where they were a season ago.
They are right back to square one.
“You have to look at it all,” Brown said. “We were inconsistent all across the board, from special teams to offense to defense. We didn’t have a good game overall.”
The plan now is to use the upcoming bye week to evaluate personnel and see what went wrong versus Ohio State. The Huskers travel to Northwestern in two weeks for their first chance at correcting the mistakes.
“We have to figure out what went wrong and why we are not being a consistent football team and get that fixed,” Brown said. “We still have it in front of us. We aren’t mathematically eliminated, so we can do it.”
The pressure is on the Huskers to win out after falling on Saturday. Pelini’s ultimatum doesn’t phase Brown.
“You would always have that pressure anyhow,” he said. “You have to win out anyhow. You don’t ever go into a game thinking we can make it by with one loss.
“You try to win every game. That’s who (Pelini) is, and that’s who we are.”
The coaching staff is frustrated with the progress, or lack thereof, the Huskers have made so far. Some of the coaches’ frustration is with themselves.
“I’m frustrated with me, and I’m frustrated with the situation,” said defensive coordinator John Papuchis. “I’m never going to put it on the kids. That’s what they are, they’re kids. We get paid to do this and obviously didn’t do a good job tonight.”
Things are going to change this week according to Brown.
“A good analogy would be flushing the toilet,” he said. “That’s what you have to be able to do. You have to be able to flush things out and get a perspective and come back because the season is long from over, and we still have a chance to win the Big Ten championship.”