Despite the seismic change in Nebraska football, the 2022 college football season ended in the same way the one before it did—with Georgia on top.
The Bulldogs beat the mighty Alabama secured the 2021 National Championship all of the Peach State awaited for decades. Then, last night, came the most lop-sided game for a National Championship in conceivable memory. Georgia put that heater of a semifinal behind them and dominated TCU in the final for the first consecutive National Championships since 2011-12.
What that game does is put a final nail in the 2022 coffin. Goodbye season, that started with fall camp and weaved through unforeseeable moments in Lincoln. The chosen son of Wood River’s tenure atop Husker mountain ended three games after the offensive coaching jostle. That included a meme-worthy loss in Ireland and a seemingly more embarrassing home loss to Georgia Southern. Familiar faces among old friends visited with Oklahoma’s storming victory of Memorial Stadium. There were frustrating losses to Illinois and Minnesota, and a bitterly cold frustrating loss to Wisconsin. The Huskers also went to Ann Arbor and faced the buzzsaw that was No. 2 Michigan. That wasn’t the only loss to Michigan in 2022. Columbus graduate and promising linebacker Ernest Hausmann transferred after the season. Former Husker commit linebacker Hayden Moore flipped his commitment to the Wolverines before signing day.
The largely hurtful season included promise too. Nebraska won back-to-back conference game, including one on the road, both with fourth-quarter resurgences. Then there was that 24-17 win against Iowa, a sweet swan song for college football games in Lincoln. Fans witnessed Trey Palmer have one of the best seasons of any Husker receiver ever. They also saw a new No. 1 running back emerge in Anthony Grant, the next elusive-yet-punishing running back to dig his cleats into Tom Osborne Field.
But as they say the only certainty is change. And there’ll certainly be that between 2022 and 2023 in Lincoln. Not only with Matt Rhule as head coach but with a wholesale new coaching staff. New faces under helmets and names on jerseys. New head coaches within the conference. A new state-of-the-art athletics facility. A new schedule, likely the final of its kind considering even more seismic change awaiting in 2024. Even the Tunnel Walk will change slightly with the Huskers’ locker room moving from its current location into the new Go Big Project.
And, in all likelihood, change will continue before anything stays the same. Nebraska’s roster for 2023 still isn’t set in stone with less than a month remaining before the final National Signing Day. Then there’s spring ball, which should bring some clarity to 2023. Those left with something to prove, either through injury or stature on the depth chart, can seize their potential. Through that opportunity comes possible happy feet. The ominous portal opens again for two weeks in May. That is finally the last roster shakeup window before fall camp. There, in early August, is when it all starts over. Just seven short months away.
Years of frustrations brewing under and the promise of hope brought by Rhule will carry through those seventh months. All of it lays dormant until the the first tailgate brats settle in weighted stomaches along with expectations, hope and nerves ahead of kickoff in Minneapolis on Thursday, August 31.
Not a moment too soon.