Nebraska can’t get out of its own way, even while dominating
This one wasn’t a moral victory — it was demoralizing.
Nebraska dominated Michigan State in the second half — the Spartans did not convert a first down — and still blew a late lead and lost 23-20 in overtime.
But this was not the 8-point loss at Illinois or the 7-point loss to Oklahoma. This was worse.
When you outgain the Spartans 440 to 254, more than double their first downs (26-12) and have the ball for a full quarter longer, you’ve got to finish off the upset.
That this would have been an upset at all speaks to the problem Frost has.
He should be leading the ranked team. Instead, it’s Mel Tucker.
Frost has now lost to a first-year and a second-year Big Ten head coach in 2021, while his fourth year is progressing much like the other seasons. This time, it was supposed to be different. It’s not. Same characters, same storyline for this sequel.
Frost has lost 15 of 20 one-score games, and this was Nebraska’s 14th straight loss to a ranked team.
The Huskers haven’t topped a Top 25 team on the road since 2011.
But I guess it’s the punter’s fault.
“We have guys at the university specifically for the reason to punt it,” Frost said. “And we had a couple of 10-yard punts that almost cost us, and right when we needed it the most we kicked it to the wrong side of the field. Some of the coverage guys didn’t see it, and it cost us the game.”
That 62-yard punt return for a touchdown possibly cost Nebraska the win in regulation, but Frost also pocketed 2 timeouts to take his chances in overtime. And another 62-yard play sealed the Huskers’ fate, this one an interception return by Chester Kimbrough that almost ended the game before the field goal did a few plays later on the ensuing MSU overtime possession.
The Huskers can’t afford to make mistakes against Illinois on the road, let alone ranked opponents like Oklahoma and now 4-0 Michigan State. But the false starts and special teams woes have persisted.
It can mean the difference between a win and another one-score loss. This year’s collection has point differences of 8, 7 and now 3, while last year’s included losses of 6, 7 and 8.
“We didn’t have any business losing that game,” Frost said.
That’s probably more true Saturday than ever before, considering the lopsided stats.
And yet, here we are, watching the same movie.
“I’m tired of it,” Frost said.
He’s not the only one.