The Hail Varsity staff offers final takeaways on Nebraska’s 62-3 loss to Ohio State:
Heading into the season, the wideouts were seen as perhaps the most talented and reliable position group on the team. On the road against one of the best teams in the country, Nebraska needed its pass-catchers to step up.
On Saturday, that didn’t happen. Jordan Westerkamp made four catches on eight targets for 51 yards. Stanley Morgan Jr. made three catches on eight targets for 56 yards. Tight end Cethan Carter, who most include in that group of dangerous pass-catchers, made two catches on seven targets for 19 yards in his return from an elbow injury. Senior Alonzo Moore and junior De’Mornay Pierson-El were held without a catch on three combined targets.
To be fair, the wideouts did make a few nice plays and quarterback play certainly has a lot to do with the receivers’ production, but that being said, they didn’t win enough 50-50 balls to sustain drives. Whether it be failing to pull down contested balls or not creating separation with their routes, the wide receivers simply didn’t make much of an impact on the game.
After the game, wide receivers coach Keith Williams shouldered the blame for the lackluster performance on Twitter.
Nebraska’s wide receivers weren’t the reason the Huskers lost. However, they could have provided a source of inspiration and a chance for the Huskers to hang with Ohio State. The wideouts missed an opportunity on Saturday. If Keith Williams’ words are anything to go by, they won’t miss the next one.
Senior center Dylan Utter called Nebraska’s 62-3 loss to Ohio State “all bad.” Senior tight end Sam Cotton called it “disappointing.” They weren’t alone either. Player after player, including senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp and senior safety Nathan Gerry, called it “bad football” and plenty of other things.
Noting something? Sure, the Huskers thought they played poorly but it was senior after senior who came and spoke to the media about what happened and what Nebraska will do going forward.
“You lose a game, you’ve got to watch the film on Sunday and learn from it,” senior linebacker Josh Banderas said. “We’ll do that. We’ll take our time to [get over the loss] but when Monday comes, we still have three games left. We’re 7-2. We have a chance for a 10-win season so we’ll keep moving forward and we’ll get better from this.”
With Minnesota, Maryland and Iowa left on the schedule, Nebraska can’t take any more steps backward. The challenging part is that the Huskers are also combatting a lot of injuries. That alone makes things more challenging.
Despite all of the hurdles ahead, the senior class continued to preach about how this group will rebound. While the Huskers do not control their own destiny in the Big Ten now, the team can at least end the season with 10 wins. And if Wisconsin were to falter? Nebraska would be right back in it for the Big Ten West.
The seniors know this. It’s probably part of the reason senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. came right back to the sidelines after being released from the hospital after an injury scare.
So the Huskers will get better, or at least they say they will. If the seniors have any say, Nebraska will win its next three games.
“We have a strong senior class and we don’t want to go out like this, so just that alone will help motivate this team,” Utter said.
And with that, the Huskers move forward and on.
Let the scoreboard watching begin. Maybe.
After 62-3, even getting to think about division title scenarios feels unearned. Presumptuous, perhaps. Nebraska’s loss, coupled with Wisconsin’s win on Saturday, turned control of the division over to the Badgers.
The simplest scenario that sends the Huskers to Indy is pretty simple to understand: It needs to win out (in all likelihood) and Wisconsin needs to lose somewhere along the way. The Badgers’ upcoming schedule: Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota.
Maybe the Gophers are good enough to do it. They are part of the three-way tie at the top of the West Division right now at 4-2 in conference play. But if Minnesota’s good enough to beat Wisconsin . . . well, you get the idea.
Nebraska’s top concern now isn’t with what Wisconsin is doing. Not after a back-to-the-drawing-board, question-your-existence loss in Columbus. No, the Huskers’ battle over these next three games might be protecting what was seemingly gained over the first two months of the season.
Every football season at some point becomes more about the year to come. Nebraska’s not there yet, but it feels maybe just one more loss away.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.