The Nebraska football program is a proud one, with five national titles to its name and a reputation as one of the grittiest and most dangerous teams in college football. The Nebraska football program won its last national title in 1997, when coach Tom Osborne's team was voted number one by the coaches.
For Nebraska to get back to its former glory under coach Matt Rhule, it will have to play much better than Thursday's 13-10 road loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Analysts have compared his debut to the Scott Frost era in Lincoln, which ended with major disappointment. The blame was heaped on numerous Cornhuskers players after the troublesome loss to P.J. Fleck's Gophers team in the Big Ten opener.
Rhule issued a challenge to his Nebraska football team and program following the Cornhusker's frustrating loss. The bar must be set higher as the team prepares to face college football's newest media darling, coach Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes, next Saturday.
“We’re on the front end of something that we’re building,” Rhule said.
“And I think at the end of the day, to be able to rush for that many yards. And I know some of them were on the quarterback. But they give you 11 eligible players, right? You can use who you can. I look at it the other way. To think of the mistakes we made, to have seven penalties, to have the four turnovers, and still a good team like Minnesota that averages nine wins a year has to kick the field goal.”
The box score from Thursday shows it was a frustrating evening all around for the Cornhuskers. Quarterback Jeff Sims threw three interceptions and was the team's leading rusher with 91 yards on the ground. For a program used to steamrolling opponents with the triple option and the read option with running backs like Lawrence Phillips, Ahman Green and Ameer Abdullah, there remains an incredibly wide chasm to cross over.
Rhule is staying practical and upbeat for the Nebraska football program as his team prepares to upset the apple cart vs. Colorado next week. His NFL pedigree was present in comments to the media after Thursday's loss.
“Now, we have to fix it,” he said. “We have to get better. But I’m not even thinking about anything that ever happened before I got here. It has nothing to do with me. I don’t want our players to think about that. I’m thinking about what’s next. I’m thinking about getting back and watching this tape. I’m thinking about next week.”