Comparisons to the 2007 season have been recurring here at The Open Man in this 2017 college football campaign. Add Ohio State drilling Nebraska for the Cornhuskers’ worst home loss since that fateful fall 10 years ago to the list.
A 45-14 beatdown against Oklahoma State on Oct. 20, 2007, sealed the fate of the Bill Callahan era. At that time, the 31-point margin matched a 31-0 loss to Missouri in 1958. On Saturday, Ohio State surpassed the mark with a minute left before halftime.
Time to update The Worst chronicling the worst home losses in Nebraska history. In much the same way the Oklahoma State blowout ended the Callahan era, one needn’t a crystal ball to predict Mike Riley’s future with the Cornhuskers.
Like Callahan, the pairing with Riley always felt somewhat odd. Still, Riley vastly overachieved in his time at Oregon State — a remarkably tough place to succeed, as Gary Andersen’s sudden departure earlier this week suggests. With greater resources and not sharing the region with a powerhouse akin to Oregon, Riley at least seemed capable of sustaining the level of success at which Bo Pelini had the Huskers — and without Pelini’s antics.
Instead, Nebraska’s worst home loss smashed that button for real Bill Callahan hours.
As for returning the Huskers to the days of the Blackshirts, the color is better suited to memorialize Nebraksa defense in the brief Bob Diaco era. Surrendering big points to Arkansas State in Week 1 may have been an ominous start, but if Diaco’s bend-don’t-break style wasn’t before Saturday, J.T. Barrett very much broke it.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) October 15, 2017
If Nebraska can take solace in anything from Saturday’s worst home loss, it’s that the Huskers didn’t surrendered 70 points, like it did against Wisconsin in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game. But in that outcome, there’s more to glean from the state of Cornhusker football. Even in successful seasons since last playing for a national championship in the 2001 campaign, Nebraska has fallen short of national powerhouse.
In 2009, for example — when Ndamukong Suh should have won the Heisman — Nebraska lost at home to Iowa State, 9-7, after surrendering eight turnovers.
The question now, as it was then: What will take for Nebraska to regain status as one of college football’s elite programs? Can Nebraska be a top-tier program in this day and age?
Getting past the seeming aversion to adopting a critical element of the glory years, the option offense, seems like a good starting point. Perhaps Nebraska’s worst home loss in more than 60 years is the rock-bottom necessary to at least entertain the idea. New administration adopting an old concept would be a revolutionary concept.