After their win on Friday against the Illinois Fighting Illini, Nebraska improved to 3-3 on the season heading into their bye week. The bye happens to sit right in the middle of the Huskers’ season and couldn’t come at a better time.
Nebraska is coming off six weeks with rough losses to Minnesota, Colorado, and Michigan. The Huskers also got three good wins over Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech and Illinois.
With six more games left on the schedule, here is a midseason review and preview for the rest of the season.
Nebraska Football Midseason Review
Weeks 1 and 2
Head coach Matt Rhule started his tenure at Nebraska with two rough road games against Minnesota on Thursday, Aug. 30, and Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 9. Against Minnesota, the Huskers fought hard but ultimately fell to the Gophers 13-10. Nebraska took a 10-3 lead over Minnesota with 12 minutes to go. Two late turnovers would change the aspect of this game, allowing Minnesota to tie and eventually win on a walk-off field goal.
Nebraska then had to go on the road into Boulder to take on head coach Deion Sanders and the Buffaloes to renew their historic rivalry. It was close until half-time when things got out of hand. Colorado would go on and route the Huskers 36-14, sending Nebraska back to Lincoln 0-2. The Huskers would lose junior starting quarterback Jeff Sims to a high-ankle sprain, which he hasn’t fully recovered from since.
Week 3 and 4
After a rough first two weeks on the road, the Huskers took on the Northern Illinois Huskies at Memorial Stadium for Nebraska’s home opener. The Huskers started a new quarterback against the Huskies. The redshirt sophomore out of Kearney Catholic High School, Heinrich Haarberg. Haarberg led the Huskers offense with 246 total yards on offense, 158 yards passing, and 98 yards rushing. Nebraska would go on and win big 35-11 with a strong performance on both sides of the ball.
Louisiana Tech was next for the Huskers and Nebraska took care of business against the Bulldogs 28-14. It was a slow start for the Huskers, only scoring seven points in the first half. Nebraska would go up 28-7 in the fourth quarter before a lightning delay. Defensively, the Huskers were a bit disappointing, allowing 338 yards to LA Tech
Week 5 and 6
No. 2 Michigan was next for Nebraska. It wasn’t a game right away in the first quarter when Michigan went up 28-0 at the half. The Huskers would go on and lose 45-7 at home, allowing 436 total yards. Nebraska nearly got shut out for the first time since 1996 and the first time since 1968 at home, but senior Josh Fleeks to a 74-yard run for a touchdown.
Finally, last Friday night’s game. The Huskers took on the Fighting Illini in Champaign and got an important win 20-7. The Blackshirts played astounding against the Illini’s rushing attack, only allowing them to rush for 21 yards. Getting the win goes a long way for Nebraska to possibly get to bowl game at the end of the season.
The Rest of the Season
Nebraska has a long way to go if they want to go to a bowl game. They do have a somewhat of a favorable schedule, at least for the next two games. The Huskers get the Northwestern Wildcats on Oct. 21 and Purdue on Oct. 28, which both are at home.
Nebraska’s November isn’t as favorable. They start off on the road against Michigan State on Nov. 4. Then return home to take on Maryland on Nov. 11 before going back on the road to Madison to take on Wisconsin on Nov. 18. Then Nebraska finishes off against Iowa at home once again on Black Friday, Nov. 24.
There are a few questions that need to be answered during the bye week. The main one is, does Rhule stick with Haarberg at starting quarterback, or does he give Sims another shot? If Rhule goes with Sims, the best time to give him a shot is against Northwestern. If Rhule goes with Haarberg, it will be interesting on how offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield sets the gameplan around as they go deeper into conference play.
Another question is, can the defense keep this great start going? Defensive coordinator Tony White has done well in his first year in Lincoln, but can the defense stay healthy? Senior linebacker Luke Reimer has been out for the past two games, and freshman Cameron Lenhardt just got back from an injury. As long as the defense stays healthy, expect the defense to stay consistent.
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