At the start of each week, Land of 10 will break down the postseason implications, and projections, to come out of the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ latest contest …
What happened: The Cornhuskers (1-1) fell at Oregon on Saturday, 42-35, in a contest that neatly sums up a schizophrenic start to the season. The Blackshirts pitched a shutout in Eugene against the high-powered Ducks for the final 30 minutes — after surrendering 42 points and 409 yards in the first half. Quarterback Tanner Lee threw for two scores early in the second half to help the Big Red cut a 28-point deficit in half, only to then throw bookend the fourth quarter with two drive-killing interceptions. The “real” Huskers are in there, somewhere, but the only thing that’s been consistent for coach Mike Riley’s squad for the first two games is an almost maddening inconsistency.
What it means: On the plus side, the Big Red never stopped firing or fighting, despite digging themselves an almost historic hole — the 42 first-half points were only seven short of Nebraska’s all-time first-half opponent scoring record, set in 2008 at Oklahoma. Riley can build on that, just as defensive coordinator Bobby Diaco can build on a second half that saw a speedy Oregon offense string together seven straight drives that didn’t amount to a single point. The Huskers didn’t come away with a win in a big intersectional matchup, but they didn’t necessarily embarrass themselves, either. Well, OK, except for the first 28 minutes. There could be a boatload of 6-6-ish Big Ten teams once the music stops. The question looming over Riley’s head is whether his crew is one of them.
Projected record: Massey Ratings — 6-6; TeamRankings.com — 5-7
Projected postseason destination: Taxslayer Bowl, Dec. 30 in Jacksonville, Fla., vs. an SEC opponent.
Cheapest seat on TicketCity.com as of Sunday: $110
Up next: Northern Illinois at home on Saturday. The Huskies (1-1) stomped Eastern Illinois 38-10 in Week 2, holding the Panthers to 187 total yards. Northern Illinois has surrendered an average of 159 yards through the air and 104 on the ground through its first two contests, numbers that could put the relative health of Huskers I-back Tre Bryant (149.5 rushing yards per game) under even greater scrutiny.