Lincoln, Neb.. For Nebraska, it’s a chance to start over. For Iowa State, it’s an opportunity to keep building.
The Cornhuskers (4-2, 1-1 Big 12) enter today’s game against the Cyclones needing a win as much for their psyche as for their positioning in the wide-open Big 12 North.
There’s been much hand-wringing among the Husker faithful this week after a dismal offensive performance in a 31-10 home loss to Texas Tech that bounced Nebraska from the national polls.
A quarterback controversy resulted, with coach Bo Pelini going late into the week without announcing whether he’ll stick with Zac Lee, who started the first six games, or go with freshman Cody Green.
If last week’s loss to the 10-point-underdog Red Raiders was a minor setback in the second year of Pelini’s rebuilding project, imagine the fallout if Nebraska doesn’t beat three-touchdown underdog Iowa State.
The Cyclones (4-3, 1-2) haven’t won in Lincoln since 1977, and they haven’t won a Big 12 road game in 14 tries since 2005.
But they’re getting better by the week under first-year coach Paul Rhoads. They’re coming off a 24-10 home win over Baylor.
Nebraska, which hammered three early opponents from the Sun Belt Conference, continues to struggle against BCS competition.
Other than a couple late breakdowns in a one-point loss at Virginia Tech, the defense has met, if not exceeded, expectations.
The offense, however, has lacked an identity. The running game has suffered because of Roy Helu Jr.’s banged-up shoulder and spotty play by the offensive line. Lee has been missing receivers and showing hesitancy in the pocket, and he’s also been victimized by drops.
As a result, the Huskers have failed to score a touchdown in 10 of 12 quarters against BCS opponents.