Nebraska football suffered a soul-crushing loss to Iowa on Saturday and just like that the offseason has begun.
Time is a flat circle. At least if you are a Nebraska football fan.
There were plenty of times on Friday when it felt like the Huskers were going to win and get to a bowl game. The Tommi Hill interception. The two blocked kicks by Ty Robinson — really up until the moment of the Chubba Purdy interception, it was all going according to plan.
Then, as soon as Iowa intercepted that ball, it was over.
And we should have known that’s how it was going to end all along. Nebraska football fans want Matt Rhule to be different, but after one season, he has a lot to prove.
This was as heartbreaking a loss as I can remember in the past few years and here are three takeaways from the Nebraska football loss to Iowa.
Matt Rhule needs to find a quarterback
The biggest mistake Matt Rhule made this season was bringing in Jeff Sims to be the starting quarterback and it haunted this program all season.
Nebraska eventually tried all three quarterbacks and the results were the same. Chubba Purdy had a costly turnover against Maryland and he did the same thing against Iowa.
I’m not saying I don’t want him in the program next season, but Nebraska needs to upgrade. You can allow him to compete for the job but there shouldn’t be a guarantee for any of the three veteran quarterbacks. All of them dropped the ball with their opportunities and Rhule can’t allow that to happen again.
You can’t play winning football when you’re handicapped at the quarterback position. It was a problem during the Scott Frost era and Rhule needs to fix it in the next few weeks in the transfer portal.
The defense did enough to win
In the second half, the defense forced four three-and-outs and had a takeaway. Nebraska football also blocked two kicks. They did everything possible to win, but in the end, there was too much to overcome.
For the second time in three games, the offense was in a position to win the game, only to turn it over. That put Iowa in field goal range and after a 20-yard run or so, the Hawkeyes had an easy field goal.
Ty Robinson, Quinton Newsome, Nash Hutmacher, and others played their hearts out. It really stinks that the offense couldn’t find a way to score more than 10 points, despite all the defense did.
Nebraska football season was a failure
Nebraska football is 5-7 because it can’t get out of its own way. The schedule was very manageable and a four-game losing streak to end the season made it a failure. All of those games were winnable, Nebraska just didn’t execute when it really mattered.
At times, the coaching staff struggled with game management and that continued on Friday. All three second-half timeouts were essentially wasted. The first was used after Nebraska ran out Tristan Alvano for a 59-yard field, only to take a timeout and punt.
Instead of wasting a timeout to punt, Rhule could have simply taken the delay of the game. The challenge on the Purdy run was strange. Purdy was given a bad spot, but there wasn’t much to be gained when even if the play was overturned, and a first down given, it would have been first-and-15 as opposed to second-and-six.
Given the inconsistency of the offense, it’s baffling that Rhule would challenge to get a first-and-15, knowing his team would need a nine-yard gain just to get back to second-and-6. Beyond all of that, a timeout was wasted. The other was wasted to avoid a delay of game penalty in the last 40 seconds.
All of that is hard to believe. It’s also hard to believe that multiple drives in the fourth quarter featured pre-snap penalties by multi-year starters. Chubba Purdy also had a clear first down on the plus side of the field before inexplicably fumbling the ball without being touched.
When you turnover the ball over more than any team in college football and don’t play complementary football, it’s hard to win.
A long offseason awaits, and once again, it’s starting way too early for Nebraska football.
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