Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: Long Husker Football Season Comes to End Against Iowa

November 24, 2022

Nebraska football’s season approaches an end tomorrow. On Thanksgiving, that’s something many with an interest in the program may be thankful for. 

The Huskers, of course, enter the final game of the year at 3-8. With a loss to Iowa, they’d finish 3-9 for the second year in a row. Given how the Hawkeyes have played this year, it’ll likely be a low-scoring slugfest, similar to Nebraska’s matchup with Wisconsin.

Nebraska should have at least a chance tomorrow, but it feels as though much of the focus understandably lies on what will happen after the final game. Although we can’t be sure when the announcement of the team’s next head coach will come, the wait for it will intensify after the clock hits zeroes.

That’s not to say there’s nothing at all to care about on the field at this point. A rivalry matchup where the Huskers could prevent the Hawkeyes from winning the division is worth paying attention to. It’s the end of the regular season too, and I always appreciate having college football to watch. 

Even last week’s loss provided more entertainment than the three before it. Casey Thompson returning and connecting with wide receiver Trey Palmer for two touchdowns was nice to see.

Then, that 14-3 fourth-quarter lead slipped into a 15-14 loss. When Wisconsin got the ball for its final possession, I turned my focus to the perfectly-timed Nebraska women’s basketball game about to begin.

I only caught Graham Mertz’s game-winning heroics through my peripheral vision. A familiar crushing drive served in the background, like a sicko version of those “lofi beats to study to” streams on YouTube.

I might’ve been the only one in the press box to experience that drive in this fashion, but it underscored the unceremonious feeling that’s persisted throughout the season.

This doesn’t give quite the same feeling as 2021, which featured three wins but produced the most insane season of football I’ve watched given how the team lost games.

Going back to September, the method in which Scott Frost’s tenure ended almost makes you forget that he was fired and didn’t just suddenly disappear. 

After the opening three games, which featured an ill-advised onside kick in Dublin and a surreal loss to Georgia Southern, things moved quickly. The staff and roster assembled to give Frost another shot didn’t accomplish that goal, but nine games still remained. For better or worse, the way Frost’s time coaching the team was reflected on would’ve looked different with an end-of-season dismissal. It’ll always be fascinating to revisit anyways.

In comes Mickey Joseph, serving as Nebraska’s first Black head coach and inheriting a tough situation. After back-to-back wins over Indiana and Rutgers, it was a legitimate question whether he could end up doing well enough for the team to drop the interim tag. 

With five straight losses against tougher competition, you’d think that chance is pretty low now. An already uphill battle was made worse with Thompson’s injury. He’s still been well-liked in his time in the interim role, and it’ll be interesting to watch his future. 

On the player end of things, Palmer and running back Anthony Grant both seemed primed for 1,000 yard seasons at points. Grant needs 91 yards against Iowa to reach that mark now, while Palmer needs 122. Facing a tough defense, it’ll be hard for either to get there. 

The former saw his production drop after Thompson’s injury, while the latter hasn’t found consistent success in Big Ten play behind Nebraska’s offensive line. The statistical drop off for both hasn’t been entirely their fault, and they’re still very exciting and talented players. However, it’s another story that didn’t exactly get a fitting end.

There’s plenty more that gets a bit lost in this season that I hadn’t mentioned, such as defensive coordinator Erik Chinander being let go a week after Frost due to his unit’s regression.

From the end of the 2021 season, there was always a chance that this year would be one where Frost’s chapter at Nebraska would end. His three-game epilogue brought the season we have now, one that produced a couple nice wins but more recently has been harder to watch with numerous injuries and struggles on the field.

It’ll come to a close after tomorrow’s game though, and the Huskers will undergo their major reset. It’ll be fascinating to watch unfold.

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