Who would have thought?

I don't know any prognosticators or optimists who thought the fourth installment of Nebraska vs. Troy would go like this.

Saturday's Troy contest was supposed to be one of those "danger games," the ones that usually come right before or after a matchup against a more hyped opponent.

The Cornhuskers lost at No. 2 Southern California 28-10 one week ago, but they obviously didn't have much jet lag against these Trojans, grabbing nearly 600 yards of total offense and doing pretty much what they wanted on the ground and in the air.

The offensive balance was back, as NU ran for 316 yards and threw for 281 more. (It's interesting to note, though, Nebraska's play-calling this weekend was nearly identical to the USC game, with exactly a two-to-one ratio in favor of rushing the football.)

The defense and special teams also got into the act in a major way for NU, forcing three turnovers and limiting the Trojans to just 140 yards of total offense.

But 56-0? That's probably not a score most Husker fans would have predicted a week or two ago, not because of Nebraska's loss last week but based on how Troy had played in its earlier games.

The Trojans were 1-2, but that record came with an asterisk because it included a narrow 24-17 loss at then-No. 9 Florida State and another loss at Georgia Tech, a game the Trojans were in going into the fourth quarter.

So what does this game say about the Huskers? Depending on your point of view, it's either extremely encouraging or a little misleading.

Either case could be made just by listening to Troy Coach Larry Blakeney after the game.

"This bunch of guys is different," Blakeney said of the Huskers. "Their style of play and their physical approach ... really gave us more than we could handle."

The comment could apply to Nebraska on either side of the ball. Aside from the more glitzy offensive numbers, the Blackshirts were downright nasty. Troy quarterback Omar Haugabook should be getting regular visits from NU senior Adam Carriker and sophomore Ndamukong Suh in his nightmares after taking as many hits as he did from NU's defensive line Saturday.

On the other hand, the unruly final score might be giving Nebraska a little too much credit.

"I think the biggest thing is it was the third big game we had played," Blakeney said. "We had been probably just worn and a little bit tired."

It's true, Nebraska represented Troy's third straight road game and that probably had something to do with the Trojans' complete ineffectiveness in all three phases of the game. A team can only take so many road games against superior talent and still expect to be competitive.

Heck, the only shock of the second half was having a foil-wrapped hot dog carom off the sixth-floor window of the press box. (Is it me, or are those wiener launchers getting more powerful?)

Either way, Saturday's win won't put the USC loss out of the collective minds of Husker Nation, but, if nothing else, it has at least had a reassuring effect that the sky is indeed not falling.

"Troy's a good team and we really put it to them tonight," NU senior quarterback Zac Taylor said. "I think we did a good job setting the tone."

No doubt they did. And in a danger game against an increasingly respectable Troy team.

Now it's time for Big 12 Conference play, and the Huskers can prepare for Kansas with the motivation of a North Division title and, I daresay, a little revenge on their minds.

And, after Saturday's shutout, a whole lot of momentum.

I know I didn't see that coming.