The Big Red can celebrate this one tonight. Then, starting tomorrow, it’s on to the next one. That’s right. While this 23-9 victory is huge in shaping the Legends race to Indy, it’s only one step of many and no time to get carried away with the victory dance. While many Husker fans wish this win over Michigan punches the ticket to the Big 10 Championship, there are a few teams like Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa that would like to contest that.
Again, while this game against Michigan was of high importance, Michigan State may prove to be even larger. Pelini hit it on the head during the post-game press conference. Each win makes the stakes of the next game just that much higher.
As it stands right now, Michigan and Nebraska share a 3-1 conference record with Nebraska obviously holding the tie-breaker. Assuming that Denard Robinson is able to bounce back from his arm injury, Nebraska cannot afford to stumble at any stage in November.
Granted, Michigan State’s season has fallen well short of expectation, but one has to figure the Spartans will be no cake walk on their home turf. Penn State had a tough night against Ohio State, but has shown a lot of toughness of their own throughout the season which they will undoubtedly bring to Lincoln. Minnesota is still struggling to find their identity but has had some strong strides this year. Lastly, Iowa has been about as unpredictable as they come. The Hawkeyes stumbled through their non-conference schedule, found some big conference wins, then back to stumbling in recent weeks.
A vast portion of Husker fans probably wince a little when they hear that Nebraska has “turned a corner”. It seems plausible enough, after all. The Huskers were literally blown out of Columbus, then showed some grit in an adverse situation again Northwestern, and finally against Michigan, showed precision and tenacity. Maybe even the most Husker Nation has seen so far this season.
The reason why Husker fans may cringe is because they’ve seen this before. Many probably thought the Big Red had “turned a corner” after the Michigan State game last year. The Huskers took a beating in Madison, made a comeback in an adverse situation against Ohio State, had a successful trip to Minnesota, and played with precision and tenacity against Michigan State. Sound familiar so far? All of Husker Nation knows what happened next. The Huskers were in the “driver’s seat” of the Legends Division. Then the Northwestern squad came to town, and the rest is history.
Luckily, history is a good teacher, and Pelini and his team are good students. It doesn’t matter what the critics say. Indeed, the growing pains are still evident at times, but the team as a whole is growing. Not just year to year, but also week to week. The big key is that Nebraska must do both. They must learn from last year’s breakdown to Northwestern after a big win, and they must learn to bounce back after a tough loss. Check on the latter. We’ll have to wait and see on the former.
Celebrating a win over Michigan is certainly sweet. Celebrating a trip to Indy is even sweeter yet. Let’s hope this team is ready to keep ascending to East Lansing and beyond.
By Tyler Wanek
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