Well, that sucked.
In retrospect, it is probably very telling that when the score got to 17-3, one of the thoughts to go through my head was "I wish we could just call it right here." I'm guessing there may have been some folks on the sideline in all white who felt the same way.
We'll get into the game itself down below and try to make heads or tails of what went wrong and why things stopped going right. But let's start by looking at the big picture.
There is no doubt that this is a "big picture" loss. The kind of defeat that makes everybody - coach, player, fan, administrator, commentator - step back and look at what is going on. The kind of defeat that makes people ask uncomfortable questions. So with that in mind, here is my question:
During the game, I saw Derek Hernandez of NoCoastBias.com
tweet that the Nebraska program under Pelini is in purgatory - or "Bogatory" as Hernandez called it. Pelini's teams are too good enough to get him fired, yet bad enough that they may never win - or even compete for - conference and national championships. I'm not necessarily sure I agree that NU is some sort of nine-win waiting room, but we can all recite the pattern:
Win the games you "should" win, even if the outcome is ugly or closer than the experts think. Get a loss - or a big-time scare - from a team that is nowhere close to NU in talent. Tease fans with hope, progress, and potential. Lose four games, including one or two embarrassing performances on a national stage. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I say these things not to attack Bo, his staff, or the players. I respect the things he has done at Nebraska. As much as some may want to deride him for it, he has brought in guys who represent Nebraska very well. They get good grades, avoid the police blotter, and are good role models.