Sitting at 0-6, Nebraska wants a win. After an overtime loss to Northwestern where the Huskers held a 10-point lead with 5:41 to play in regulation, it feels especially overdue.
Coach Scott Frost said this week that his team feels closer to that much-needed win. He said he was broken-hearted that the Huskers' first win didn't come in Evanston, Illinois, "because they played well enough to win."
Frost's comments are not surprising. Anyone in Nebraska's position would be hungry for that first win. Sure, there are positives. Nebraska, for example, has run up at least 480 yards of offense for three straight weeks.
Things like that say something, but they don't say enough.
“Stats are great,” Frost said on Thursday. "At the end of the day we’ve got to win the game.”
And so Nebraska will try to get that first win against Minnesota on Saturday. If they do? It'll be about much more than just a win for the team.
"Man, getting a win would mean so much for us guys and especially these kids, these seniors and definitely these fans," defensive backs coach Travis Fisher told Hail Varsity. "These fans have been so loyal. Great fans. Best fans in the country. It'd mean a lot for these seniors. It'd mean a lot for the football team."
Fisher's comment was part of an overall trend this week leading up to Minnesota. At Monday's press conference, players like junior linebacker Mo Barry shared what he expected from Huskers fans on Saturday and that's to be great, as always.
But it's a two-way street.
“And we need to give them a win and I just hope they rally behind us and inspire us and turn it up this weekend," Barry said. "The defense is going to be hyped to shut down Minnesota and we’re ready. Ready to give them what they long for, and that’s the first win of the season.”
Defensive line coach Mike Dawson isn't from the Midwest. He hails from Pepperell, Massachusetts, but he has learned quickly what Nebraska is all about. That's passion and excitement for the team and program.
That passion and excitement for Nebraska is in his room, too. He has guys like Mick Stoltenberg and Peyton Newell who both love the Huskers and being part of the program.
That's why it's so important for the players to get a win for more than just themselves.
"I think all of them feel responsibility to produce and to hold up their end of the bargain or their share of the task," Dawson said. "I think everybody in the program knows and understands how bad the fan base wants to be successful and wants to win and wants to get back to where we all feel this program can and should be. I think they all take it very personally."
That first win would also be the start of something for Nebraska. That's what players like junior wide receiver Mike Williams think. Get that first win and things will start to trend in the right direction.
"I think once we feel how it feels to win, we won't take a loss for an option," Williams said. "When we get that feeling, it's going to feel so good. When we go out, people will be like, 'You got the first win now, let's go.' The whole team will be like, 'Let's go, we can do this.'"
Dawson agrees. He sees it as a cycle.
"I think that success breeds confidence, confidence breeds success," Dawson said. "Once you start seeing your results, 'Hey, all that work I've put in, now I get the result that I want. Wait a second, I want that result again. I'm going to continue to work' or 'I'm going to increase my work, try to get more of that result that I'm looking for.' I think that's definitely a positive.
"It helps you when you're going through that hard work, you're going through the cycle that nobody sees, you're in the weight room and you're on the track and you're conditioning yourself or you're out of practice, the sweat is burning your eyes out and it's not necessarily fun, but you end up getting the goal that you want and you hit that consistency.
"Once you start putting those together now, it makes it a more enjoyable experience across the board and it makes you train that much harder."
Dawson also suspects the team will play a little looser and faster after the first win, too. It's all part of that cycle, which he hopes to get kicked off sooner rather than later.
And that win would mean something beyond just the team. It would extend far beyond the locker room and to the fans.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.