Second Time’s the Charm?

Believe it or not, the original Rocky won the best picture Oscar back in 1976. Among the more memorable lines is when the champion who escaped with a victory said, "Ain't gonna be no rematch" to which Rocky Balboa responded "Don't want one". Rocky II provided the rematch though and the second time the Italian Stallion was triumphant. The Rocky metaphor for Nebraska in a rematch with Northwestern doesn't quite fit though. After all, the Huskers were the favorites and playing at home. Apollo Creed by contrast fought Balboa in his hometown of Philadelphia. A road game. Putting aside the movie then, what should we expect in a rematch for the Huskers?


There have been eight games that Nebraska has played under head coach Bo Pelini where the Huskers lost but then got to play the same team a year later. NU went 5-3 in those games. In 2008, the Huskers were a touchdown favorite at home over Virginia Tech. They lost the game by 5 and appeared headed to victory in Blacksburg a year later before a blown coverage allowed the Hokies to complete an 81-yard pass play to set up a touchdown with 21 seconds remaining to win by a point. NU were underdogs to Missouri in Lincoln and lost badly in 2008, but rebounded with an explosive fourth quarter to prevail 27-12 at Mizzou a year later. The Big Red were underdogs on the road when they lost in overtime to Texas Tech. A year later, they lost at home despite being a double-digit favorite. Nebraska got embarrassed at Oklahoma in 2008, but a year later they pulled an upset over the Sooners in Lincoln.

In 2009, the Huskers turned the ball over eight times in a narrow home loss to underdog Iowa State. NU still needed overtime to win in Ames the following year. The Huskers lost a heartbreaker as double-digit underdogs to Texas in the Big 12 championship game in 2009. They were favored at home the following year but a sloppy offensive performance led to a 20-13 defeat in 2010. Later that year, Nebraska lost a same season rematch with a Washington team that they'd trounced in Seattle. In 2011, the Huskers scored a victory over the Huskies in Lincoln.

So far, the only chance to avenge a loss from 2011 was against Wisconsin. A bad loss in Madison was avenged with a comeback victory at home. Northwestern came into Lincoln a year ago as a major underdog. Now the opportunity comes for Nebraska to repay that loss in Evanston. If we compare this to the Iowa State or Washington games (where NU lost despite being heavy favorites), then we might expect victory this time around. The Huskers are not prohibitive favorites, given just a five point edge by oddsmakers. That's in line with what took place in Ames in 2011 and reflects a fairly competitive game against the Huskies a year ago.

It's encouraging to note that while Pelini's teams have fallen down, they generally haven't stayed down. This week provides another opportunity for his team to show resiliency to shake off both the Ohio State defeat and compensate at least somewhat for dropping a game to Northwestern in Lincoln that they shouldn't have.  But history tells us it may still be a tense four-quarter battle, with Nebraska prevailing in the end.

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Comments 22 comments so far

I expect northwesterns offense to go up and down the field on Nebraska defense someone please tell Bo Pelini unless he has Vince Wolfork to stop running this 2 gap system NU 49 NU 42

With a good mobile QB Northwestern will run all over the Huskers who have proven time and time again they are incapable of stopping one.  The only question we can debate is whether or not the Husker offense can score enough to win.  Go Big Red!

Taking from tOSU, tNU 42 NU 24

I am not sure why be continue to call Nebraska NU the name of the school is the University of Nebraska or UN not that it really makes that much difference.

I think they come back bigtime and play lights out football. One of these games…

Pelini’s story is an odyssey that definitely needs to be changed, I think these are some things that can give a change to the team.

Stop the run, win the game.  That’s it.  Nebraska’s offense is far superior, but Northwestern’s runningback is for real.  If we contain RB and QB runs, we win.

Jonny, we CAN"T stop the run! Or QB’s who run. It’s one of our biggest problems…along with penalties, turnovers, no defense and totally inconsistant play that is. When they play well, they play good…which is less than half the time, and only against inferior opponents.
I’m not so sure we’re going to win this game. They’re good this year, better than last year. But then again, I’m not sure about anything Pelini touches any more. Problem is we have absolutly no idea who’s going to show up to play Saturday. Which team? The one that came out first game of the year and gave us all hope, especially in our “new and improved” (that didn’t last long did it?) QB that has long since squandered any gains he may have made in the off season, or the team that keeps showing up that gets annialated over and over again in every big game we play? Which course of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hide are we to be served for this next game Mr Pelini?

Nebraska’s losses since joining the B1G
were to:
Wisconsin     (B1G Conference Champion 2011)
Northwestern (Perenial upset artists for the last 20 years)
Michigan     (The winningest FB team in the History of College FB)
South Carolina (Who was undef until last week, lost to LSU #9)
                (Where did Pelini Coach before becoming our HC?)
                (Yep, LSU.)

UCLA         (Lost to Oregon St, which beat Wisconsin)
Ohio St.      (Ranked 8th in the Nation at this time)

Keep the faith folks.

The South Carolina game was especially tough for me—we didn’t really even show up.  Seems like we lose our composure…not sure why.  We wanted a coach with some fireworks after the previous one was a dud, but may have gotten more than we bargained for.  Hopefully part of the growth of Pelini is understanding you can’t chew out everyone for every mistake.  Make sure to praise for a job well done.  Can’t live in fear, but gotta keep the pressure on too.  Player development is critical and from what I read the relationships with coaches/kids are good.  Let’s just see progress and development and as long as that translates to wins we’ll be fine. 
Ohio State will be the big kid on the block for the forseeable future and we’ll have to continue to raise the bar to be competitive.

Until Coach Pelini is willing to adjust his scheme for mobile QB’s why should we expect anything different?  Do you really not think that Northwestern cannot execute a lot of the same things that UCLA and Ohio State did?  Pat Fitzgerald is a very underrated coach and these guys will not beat themselves.  He has done a hell of a job there and he deserves acknowledgement for that.  This comes down to preparation and execution.  They will play their assignments, read their keys, execute and play good football.  We do not do that. . .

Coach Pelini going against mobile QB’s is like showing up every week to a given intersection, at a specified time, to watch a car wreck. . .

2003—Brad Smith & Vince Young

2011—Russell Wilson, Dennard Robinson, Braxton Miller (before
        he was hurt and that whole game changed on that
        injury), Kain Colter, and Connor Shaw

2012—Brett Hundley, Braxton Miller

You can throw Kain Colter and Dennard Robinson on the 2012 list too.  There it is.  Cut and dried, every single Mobile QB lights up Coach Pelini.  All of them with no exceptions.  We have a culture and an ongoing process here as Coach Pelini says.  The above mentioned players and years associated with them are part of that culture.  Even when he was Coach Solich’s Defensive Coordinator.  No need to shoot the messenger, it’s only the factual record to date. . .

Pelini stays… we get better and better….NEB. victory coming this Saturday! I can feel it!

Pelini stays…the same thing happens…we don’t get 1% better. 2007 all over again…look at the stats…and guess what - it aint gonna get any better! Because Bo Pelini could coach his way out of a wet paper bag! he gets beat game after game. His players play the same way he is…inconsistent and doesn’t know the meaning of the word discipline.

Johnny_Nebraska- Your point would be valid if only there wasn’t a few 20-30 point blow puts involved.

I’m thinking Bo and Jp finally figure out how to stop the mobile QB and are out to prove it this week. TM puts up some numbers both on the field and in the air. GBR

Then who does everyone want to replace Pelini with? Simple questions but there is no easy answer. I want Nebraska to win just like the rest of you. It hurts when all your friends are SEC fans and they laugh at how our team never shows up in prime time game. I just want the team to play hard till the end and if they get beat by a better team then so be it.  Face it folks, Pelini is not going anywhere for at least two years.

gbaker- I think the frustration is not being consistent and getting blown out in big games.

Obviously hoping they can pull it together. Pelini’s job though I would say is determined game by game. If we see another blow our or two this year, I don’t think it will be 2 years. That being said, if they play sound ball and stay in the game I can easily see several more years.

These athletes were recruited by Bo.  But they were recruited at a time when we thought we were going to be playing B12 football not B1G football.  They are still great athletes and Bo is still a great coach!

He turned the program around in 1 year and played for 2 conference championships.  We were a three point loss away from playing for a conference championship again last year.  Yes there were the occasional blow outs.  But for pete sake, it is not like the B1G did us any favors by giving us the schedule they gave us.  We wanted in the big boys club and if we are going to stay here, we are going to have to be big boys about it!

How would Mizzou’s coach feel if his entire career boiled down to the Georgia vs Mizzou game?  How would Mack Brown feel if his career boiled down to the 13 and 12 record Texas had over the past two years?  Take it in stride, folks.  Keep the faith.


Your first point that Bo recruited these athletes to play in the Big 12 and not the B1G… the Big 12 is full of spread offenses. We actually did a great job in 09/10 shutting down some of the best spread offenses in the country (Texas.. Kstate.. Texas tech.. Okl State.. OU).

So these players that were recruited to play in the Big 12 - shouldn’t they be able to stop spread offenses?? When we transferred to the B1G you heard all about recruiting bigger linebackers to stop the tough physical run-down-your-throat traditional B1G offenses… yet what has killed us since getting to the B1G? SPREAD OFFENSES.

If these guys were recruited to compete in the Big 12 where spread offenses are everywhere - why do we struggle with those exact type of offenses in the B1G? My personal opinion is it has nothing to do with what league they were recruited to play in - they just had a lazy recruiting first couple years and we don’t have the type of athletes we need to run Bo’s system.


Valid points but it was also the case that Bo already had experience with playing the teams that we played in the B12.
He also played, as a player, in the B1G.  So another valid point would be that, yes, perhaps Bo has a coaching issue.  However, none of the nay sayers or haters are going to give Bo credit for what he has accomplished, they simply tear him down.

Bo is man on a high-wire.  He is putting one foot infront of the other.  He is being deliberate, thoughtfull and disciplined.  But the environment around him is more chaotic.  He was asked to save a team, to restore tradition.  Difficult enough to do on its own.  In his first two years he was 2 - 0 in bowl games.  Oh, ok, well let’s change your conference.  Since then he has been 0 - 2.  His overall bowl record is 2 - 2.  Nebraska’s overall Bowl Record is 24 - 24.  Callahan must have been under the impression that if he didn’t go to a bowl, he wouldn’t have to worry about his bowl record!

He is keeping pace.  Yes, there will be the occasional blow out.  That was always the case.  Been the case since before Devany, for crying out loud.  But he is still 9 - 4 or 10 - 3 season after season.  The break out is coming.  Just be patient.

Pardon me, Pelini’s Bowl record is 3 - 2.  I forgot about the MSU bowl victory when he was the “Interim” head coach.

I lost all respect for bo when he benched a consistent qb his senior year (Zack Lee) who had quality wins (ou and the holliday bowl vs Arizona) for a freshmen qb who keeps makeing bad desisions and still cant throw the ball. The Skers havnt had a quallity win yet this season. Wisconsin is a bad team and almost beat us at home. Bo is realy good at chewing his gum and chewin out everone else out around him but he sucks at coaching.

Zack Lee was a pocket passer who, admittedly was good at throwing the ball but he might as well as had bricks on his feet when it came to running.  Martinez is the dual-threat, but I agree, against Oklahoma in in the CCG in 2010 we needed something other than an injured Martinez to close out the game.  However, I put that on Watson’s one dimensional passing, no play-action pass running, no screen dumping, no mis-direction style offense and not necessarily a single injured player that put up 51 points on Oklahoma St.

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