Husker fans seem to be resigned to a loss tomorrow against Texas Tech, even normally optimistic guys like Steve Hanaway over at the Big Red Network. Certainly, Tech's offense has launched the Red Raiders into the top ten, and Nebraska's performance over in the last two games left a lot to be desired. Certainly the Raiders should be favored to win, and they are, by a nice sized point spread.
But is it hopeless? We all remember all too well what happened the last time Nebraska traveled to Lubbock, Texas. Kevin Cosgrove rushed three and dropped eight into coverage, and Bill Callahan threw true freshman quarterback Beau Davis to the wolves, as five turnovers resulted in a 70-10 beatdown that shocked the program.
That was four years ago, and another coaching staff. All of those coaches are elsewhere now. And except for Beau Davis, all the players are different now as well. Problem is...Tech is much better than they were in 2004. And Nebraska really isn't much better.
So is Nebraska positioning themselves for another apocolyiptic beatdown like in 2004? I'll be honest...it's possible. But it's not assured. In fact, Double T Nation gives us five reasons Nebraska will beat the Raiders. (They also have five reasons why Tech will win as well...)
I do sense a little different attitude coming out of Lincoln this week. Ron Brown and Bo Pelini have said this has been the team's best practices of the season. But is that enough? Not by itself. For starters, the offense needs to become more productive. Everybody who's watched Nebraska football knows it.
On defense, I'm reminded of the last couple of times Nebraska faced Texas Tech. Laying back in zone coverage and rushing three or four linemen is a sure recipe to get picked apart. Blitzing Harrell comes with a heavy price; Tech's offensive line is big and strong, and Harrell gets the ball away quickly. But like Chase Daniel, if you let him get into a rhythm, it's game over. Bo Pelini knows his gimmicky defense from last week was a mistake, and he'll have something else in mind tomorrow. That doesn't mean that the results will be any better, though.
Likewise, a blowout lost isn't automatic either. I firmly believe this is a game Nebraska can win tomorrow. It'll take a performance the likes of which we really haven't seen from the Huskers in years (Michigan 2005? Oklahoma State 2003? Oklahoma 2001?).
But it's not hopeless.