LINCOLN, Neb. — There were moments of hope for Nebraska against Iowa. They mostly came in the first half — and mostly from quarterback Tanner Lee to wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. — but they were moments of hope no less.
They were fleeting moments, though. The 14 points Nebraska scored in the first half would prove to be the only points the Huskers’ would score all afternoon. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, would hang 56 points on Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.
And for context, 42 of those 56 points game in the second half. As the Hawkeyes picked up steam, the Huskers fell apart more and more as the time on the clock — and the season — ticked away.
Prior to facing Nebraska, Iowa had scored 19 or more points in conference games twice this season. It was also the first time in Nebraska history that the Huskers had given up 50 points of more in 3 consecutive games. Adding even more insult to injury, it also was the first season that the Huskers have given up 50 points in 4 games.
The outcome of Nebraska’s matchup with Iowa never really mattered much anyway. The Huskers’ hopes at a bowl game were dashed with the loss to Penn State, and coach Mike Riley’s job has been in question since the Huskers’ upset loss to Northern Illinois in September. This game against Iowa was really about pride, and the hope of sending the seniors off on a good note.
Yet, here we are. The loss puts Riley’s future even more in question, but he said postgame that he’s been given “no indication” about his future with Nebraska.
“When I go to bed tonight I’m going to anticipate [being Nebraska’s head coach] because I would love to do this,” Riley said. “I truly believe I’m exactly the right person to do this.”
Riley spoke with athletic director Bill Moos earlier in the week. But those conversations are private, and Riley wouldn’t expand on what was discussed.
So, who knows what the next 24 or 48 hours will bring. Moos could make a decision to part ways with the Riley era of Nebraska football as early as Saturday morning, or he could choose to wait. Some fans have even suggested Riley’s tenure might not be over based on his postgame comments. It’s really a guessing game at this point.
There’s plenty of speculation around the future of Nebraska football, including a deal with Scott Frost that is reportedly already done. But with UCF defeating USF on Friday afternoon, it’ll be at least another week before anything official can really be reported. The American Athletic Conference championship game will be held Dec. 2 for those keeping track at home. Nothing can be done with Frost until the conclusion of that game.
For now, Nebraska football’s 2017 season is done. There’s no bowl game to prepare for. There’s just speculation and anticipation about what will or will not happen next.
It is what it is. There were glimmers of hope at times this season, much like there were in the first half of the matchup with Iowa. It just was never enough.
And once again, it was the same old storyline. Over and over again.
“I think that you look at the end of the season and a disappointing loss like that, lost game, lost opportunity in that game,” Riley said. “It’s disappointing.”