After the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team played their hearts out against the No. 8 ranked team in the nation but lost a 36-31 thriller, many may have looked at the loss as the final blow to a season that could have been, that should have been, that we dreamed would have been.
With a season mark of 2-7, our beloved Huskers were shut out of a postseason bowl game for the second year in a row.
It has been a season marked with a devastating six-game losing streak, an exodus of promising players and a blowout loss to a very good Michigan team that reminded us too much of the past several seasons.
With the hiring of Nebraska’s native son and coaching guru Scott Frost, we were all but assured that things would be “different” this year. After all, he took an 0-12 University of Central Florida team to 6-6 then 13-0 in two short seasons.
As the losses and frustrations mounted this season with setbacks to Colorado, Troy, Northwestern, Purdue, and Ohio State, each one that could have ended up in the win column, people were beginning to question all this hype about the “Frost Effect” that was supposed to right the sinking ship set sail by Bo Pelini and Mike Riley.
As certain players recruited by past NU head coaches began to jump ship and mysteriously head to Oregon State, something remarkable began to happen. The losing, apathetic, lackluster attitude that had been thriving in the Nebraska locker room began to disappear like a dense fog on an early summer morn.
Nebraska went into a game against a top-10 team on the road believing that they could win. When the game ended, instead of hanging their tails between their legs or joking around like they had won by 35 points, these Huskers were mad.
They knew they could have won. They knew that they had played with Ohio State toe-to-toe for four complete quarters of football. They were no longer the laughing stock of the Big 10 conference and of college football across the nation.
Granted, a win over the mighty Buckeyes would have kept their bowl hopes alive, and would have grabbed the attention of the sports media all over the United States, but the Huskers still proved something to Husker fans and more importantly, to themselves. They are a team that has turned the corner; a team that is on their way to some amazing and wondrous things in 2019.
After Nebraska began the season with losses to Colorado, Troy, and Michigan to go 0-3, Coach Frost made the bold statement to, “Look out for us in year two.” We scoffed. We sneered. He believed.
The team that we saw lose in Columbus last weekend is nowhere near being the same team that lost to Michigan.
The effort and attitude have changed significantly. The truly exciting part of this process is seeing so many freshmen and sophomores taking significant roles in getting this program turned around.
Frost already has a solid recruiting class locked up that will have an even stronger impact on the ability level in Lincoln in 2019 and beyond.
I am sure that Coach Frost was hoping to attain some lofty goals in 2018, but I am also quite positive that his main goal was to change the culture of the Nebraska football team that had been languishing for quite some time.
NU still has three winnable games remaining on the 2018 schedule against Illinois and Michigan State at home and at Iowa. They may win all three or they may lose all three, but one thing is for sure, these last three games will help pave the way to what should be a 2019 season to remember.
Doug Phillips is a freelance writer for The Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net