Welcome to the future of Nebraska Football.
The year is 2021. Nebraska football has just finished a season that saw them cruise through the first half of their schedule. After losing the opener to Purdue, they were able to reel off four straight wins.
Things were looking good in Lincoln. Then, the second half of the schedule reared its ugly head. After a homecoming win against Illinois, Nebraska struggled toward the last part of the schedule. After winning their contest against Rutgers, the program hit a roadblock.
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Ohio State on the road was too much to handle, and Penn State on the road had the same result. With their record now 6-3 , Nebraska traveled to Iowa looking to avenge last year’s last-second loss on a field goal. In what was an absolute bloodbath of the game, Nebraska was able to secure the victory on a field goal of their own. Adrian Martinez put together his best performance of the season, driving the ball down the field, putting Chase Contreraz in a position to boot the winning one through.
The win against Iowa was an affirmation of Adrian Martinez this season. After a rough 2019 campaign he bounced back nicely, putting together strong performances, beginning in the opener against Purdue. After winning against Rutgers, he suffered setbacks against Penn State and Ohio State. Then again, the whole team struggled in those games. He was able to bounce back nicely against Iowa, his signature victory of the season.
Wisconsin would be a difficult challenge. Despite the loss of Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin was still able to put together a stout rushing attack. However, this would be the game where the wide receivers would step up. The combination of Omar Manning and JD Spielman led the offense in this one. The two receivers combined for over 100 receiving yards and a 10-point victory for Nebraska.
A contest against Minnesota would conclude the season. PJ Fleck and the Golden Gophers were riding high from their success in 2019. Now, Minnesota was in the same position, ready to win the Big Ten West once again. The Minnesota rushing attack would still be too much for Nebraska, as they would beat the Huskers by two touchdowns. It was a somber end to a successful season that would finish with a 7-5 overall record.
However, 7-5 meant that Nebraska football would be invited to a bowl game. Unfortunately, Martinez and company couldn’t get the job done, and they would end their season with a loss.
However, the growth shown in 2020 was noticeable. Martinez finally returned to form. The backfield was a strong point, led by senior Dedrick Mills. The offensive line, although not perfect was much better than last year. They would only allow 20 sacks on the season, thanks in part to Turner Corcoran. Even the tight end position was much better thanks to Travis Vololek. He was able to record 500 receiving yards on the season.
Even still, the loss in the bowlgame left a sour taste in the program’s poverbail mouth heading into the 2021 off-season. There were still positive things, and there were signs that progress was made in the year three under Scott Frost. Even still , the elusive win in postseason play remains a “dark cloud” heading into 2021.
Martinez left school following the end of the season, leaving the quarterback job solely in the hands of Luke McCaffrey.
Heading into the spring, it will now be a battle between Luke McCaffrey and Smothers for the starting job. This will lead Frost to make some tough decisions moving forward. Then again, it’s all in a day’s work. In any event, this program is showing signs of progress, and should be a top contended in the Big Ten soon.