Matt Rhule’s first season with Nebraska football has been a disaster and after the loss on Saturday, you have to ask, what’s changed?
A few weeks ago, it would have seemed silly to suggest that the Nebraska football program hadn’t taken a step forward under first-year head coach Matt Rhule.
The Huskers had just finished an undefeated October. Nebraska won three games that month and heading to East Lansing, it seemed like a bowl game after a foregone conclusion.
Then the wheels fell off and they haven’t gotten back on. Nebraska turned the ball over a bunch against Michigan State and dropped the game 20-17. Rhule later complained about the officials, saying he felt bad for his players for losses to Minnesota and Michigan State. He also talked about being “scouted” by Michigan in a game his team lost 45-10 and frankly, wasn’t even that close.
Michigan pulled most of its starters by the fourth quarter and Nebraska trailed 45-3 before a 70-yard touchdown run in garbage time. So no, in-person scouting wasn’t the issue, just like the refs weren’t the issue against Michigan State or Minnesota.
Saturday night’s loss to Wisconsin was the second time Nebraska blew a double-digit lead on the road this season. Last week, against Maryland, Nebraska was tied, had the ball inside the Maryland 10 with under four minutes left, and still found a way to lose the game.
Northwestern, a team without the same level of talent, and starting the season in a much worse situation, got its sixth win on Saturday. So did Georgia Tech, which didn’t pay big bucks to a coach who was supposed to fix the little things, but hasn’t really fixed anything at all.
In fact, if you didn’t see Matt Rhule on the sidelines, you might have assumed Scott Frost had never left. That’s how the on-field product looked anyway.
And heading into Iowa, Nebraska sits in a familiar spot — one win from bowl eligibility with Iowa standing in the way.
If Rhule is different, next week is the time to prove it.