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Nebraska football: 3 takeaways from another epic choke job

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Aug 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Gabe Ervin Jr. (22) runs the ball against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That’s life as a Nebraska football fan. It doesn’t matter if the head coach changes, the ineptitude continues as the Huskers once again lost a game they had zero business losing.

If you just watched the game and didn’t keep score, Nebraska was easily the better team. The Huskers dominated, especially on defense, for most of the night, but couldn’t get out of their own way.

There were the two false start penalties that took two touchdowns off the board. Four turnovers, including two in the last four minutes, that lost Nebraska football the game.

It was baffling but at the same time, not surprising given the trend of this program since the day Tom Osborne retired.

Here are three takeaways from a 13-10 loss as brutal as any in the Frost era.

Jeff Sims was great but disastrous

Sims was great at times. His ability to run the football and his touchdown pass were the reason Nebraska had the lead. But his three interceptions were the reason the Huskers lost. He committed the cardinal sin of throwing it up in the end zone right before half, taking points off the board. Then did the same when the Huskers were driving for a win — throwing it up over the middle of the field.

The knock on Sims at Georgia Tech was his inability to protect the ball and that hasn’t changed. As talented as he is, Nebraska football isn’t going to win if he’s that loose with the football.

You just can’t survive that many shots to the foot.

The defense was spectacular

I feel bad for the Blackshirts because they brought it. Allowing 13 points (10 thanks to a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers) should have been more than enough to win the game.

Nebraska held Minnesota to 55 yards rushing. Athan Kaliakmanis completed just 24-of-44 passes. Tony White was masterful and outside of Malcolm Hartzog getting toasted on the TD pass, the secondary was pretty much flawless.

Omar Brown made 2-3 incredible plays including the interception. Quinton Newsome was lights out and Josh Bullock was damn good too. Isaac Gifford also had a great game and was close to ending it on the play before the Minnesota touchdown.

Yet, that great defensive effort was wasted because of turnovers and penalties by the offense. The Blackshirts couldn’t have been much better and Nebraska still lost.

The honeymoon period won’t last long now

Matt Rhule will find out quickly what it really means to be Nebraska football head coach. He’s about to get questioned and his quarterback is about to get a rude wake-up call.

This job is a pressure cooker and it spits people out like nothing. Mike Riley and Scott Frost were successful head coaches in other places. Riley won at Oregon State and that’s not easy to do.

Being the Nebraska football head coach isn’t for everybody and with the way that game went down, Rhule is going to get tested much earlier than expected, because lose next week, and the honeymoon is officially over.

This is another game most other teams win about 99 out of 100 times. But Nebraska found a way to lose again — which has become the defining characteristic of this program.

I hope Matt Rhule can change it. But the first game wasn’t a great sign. In fact, it was more of the same.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska

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