The first season for Nebraska football under the direction of head coach Matt Rhule turned into a disaster after a four-game losing streak to finish 5-7.
When Nebraska football was 5-3, it seemed like the Huskers would easily make a bowl game. Heck, they were even tied for first place in the Big Ten West.
It seemed like all of the issues that prevented Nebraska football from playing in a bowl game since 2016 would be rectified.
Not my fast my friend, as Lee Corso would say.
Nebraska lost four straight games by one score or less, including three that saw them be tied or in the lead in the fourth quarter, to finish 5-7, extending the streak without a bowl game for another season.
Friday’s loss was as painful as any. Tommi Hill had just intercepted Iowa, giving Nebraska the ball about 20 yards from field-goal range with under a minute left. It felt like victory was right there for the taking.
Instead of attempting a game-winning kick (another field goal was missed by Nebraska with around five minutes left) Iowa intercepted Chubba Purdy and won the game 13-10.
Purdy had two turnovers and Nebraska still leads college football in giveaways. Nebraska football also leads college football in fumbles too with what I believe is 32 now in 12 games.
Outside of that, the game management was poor at times, and there were way too many pre-snap penalties such as a couple of false starts in the fourth quarter.
This result doesn’t mean that Rhule is on the hot seat. That’s ridiculous, but win five games next season and the pressure will be ramped up by a ton. And with everything at stake, he probably doesn’t survive more than three years without a winning season or at least a bowl trip.
With a win on Friday, Rhule would have ended Nebraska’s losing streak to ranked teams, and the streak of not making a bowl in one fell swoop. Instead, Husker fans endured a bitterly disappointing season that was on par with the pain handed out routinely during the Scott Frost era.
It doesn’t mean that Rhule can’t or won’t win at Nebraska. But what it does mean is that the honeymoon period is over. 2024 is the time to deliver or else he will be on the hot seat heading into 2025.
There are too many resources for this Nebraska program to be so bad. Rhule knows that and he also knows, more than ever, he needs to start winning games in 2023 because another season of 5-7 just won’t cut it.