What a week for Nebraska football.
It feels as though it’s already been decades since last Friday. Then, the Huskers were 1-1, coming off an uncomfortably tough win against North Dakota but primed for a chance to continue momentum against Georgia Southern.
Nebraska following through on that sounds relatively peaceful, doesn’t it?
Instead, disaster struck on a Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
I’ll try to keep this part short, as I’m not sure many want to revisit that game, but it hasn’t gotten any less surreal. Nebraska gave up 642 yards and 45 points to Georgia Southern. Both teams appeared as though they absolutely hated the thought of playing decent defense, with most stops coming as the result of self-inflicted errors on the offense’s end.
The pinnacle of Nebraska’s simultaneously believable-yet-unbelievable losses put a swift end to Scott Frost’s time as head coach.
Coming into the season, I lacked the belief that the Frost-led Huskers would turn things around. I stayed away from record predictions, but I thought the team would probably miss out on a bowl game again and Frost would be let go. I don’t say this to take a victory lap of any sort, but more to highlight how the Huskers defied even the more pessimistic of expectations. The losses this team has taken since 2018, and especially in the last 15 games, will always be fascinating to look back on.
But now we’re here. Nebraska placed Mickey Joseph as the interim head coach heading into a home game against No. 6 Oklahoma. I’m still processing that there are nine games left of this season.
I’ve seen the idea of Nebraska upsetting the Sooners thrown around quite a bit. It is pretty tempting, partly because it’s a bit too early to tell how good Oklahoma really is. Along with that, The Huskers may have the offense to keep up, and if the defense doesn’t totally fall apart again, the upset doesn’t seem out of reach.
You aren’t going to see me making such a prediction though. I’d say pretty much everything except a Nebraska blowout win is on the table, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Huskers can still hang with top programs as they did a year ago.
Through the rest of the season, just as much attention will be placed off the field as on it, if not more. Nebraska’s national search for its next head coach is getting started, and it’s already brought out a variety of opinions and names, both of those ranging from solid to awful.
One of the more interesting potential candidates is the current interim coach. Joseph will have a shot at proving he deserves to remain the coach past this year in the final nine games. He’s well-liked by players, and many fans wouldn’t mind if he performed well enough to take the role.
The issue there is that it’s an incredibly uphill battle. Midseason, Joseph has been handed a 1-2 record against three of the lightest opponents on the schedule, with a staff he hasn’t spent all that much time with. His lack of Power Five head coaching experience will also make many prefer other candidates.
It’s going to be a long season of coaching search discussions. Plenty of focus will be placed on the season still, especially with Oklahoma coming in tomorrow and the curiosity of what a new coach can do with this team. Frost’s name will likely come up throughout the rest of the year dependent on how Joseph does, which might end up being yet another excruciating topic of discussion.
This is still a team worth watching, if not only for the offensive talent. Casey Thompson put up five touchdowns last time he played Oklahoma. Anthony Grant will be going for his fourth straight 100-yard rushing performance to open the year. On the other side, the defense desperately needs to prove that it still can be remotely in the range of what it was last year.
Joseph will mark the start of something new when he leads the team out of the tunnel on Saturday. I’m looking forward to seeing all that follows.