Nebraska isn’t as bad as it looked in the first half against Oregon. It’s also not as good as it played in the second.

Somewhere in the middle is what the Huskers really are, and where their true identity lies.

This is a young team, plain and simple. You saw it in the first half on Saturday, playing in one of the loudest stadiums in the country against a team that has run through the Pac-12 pretty consistently for the last decade. The Huskers had that deer-in-headlights look through the first 30 minutes of the game, trailing 42-14 at the half.

Considering how much talent and experience that departed from last year’s team, the first game in a hostile environment can be quite the eye-opener.

But Nebraska brought the fight in the final two quarters, and you saw the potential of Mike Riley’s bunch.

Rather than roll over facing a 28-point deficit, the Huskers punched back. The defense shutout Oregon in the second half, while the offense scored 21 unanswered points. With two minutes left in the game, Tanner Lee was taking the field and had the chance to tie the game with a  touchdown drive.

It ended in a hurry. The ball was deflected at the line of scrimmage and fluttered into the hands of the Ducks’ Ugochukwu Amadi. On the first play of the final possession, Nebraska’s hopes of an improbable comeback were dashed.

Frustrating, nail-biting and heart-wrenching. Those can all be used to describe Nebraska’s performance in Eugene on Saturday. But you’ll want to keep those words handy, because it’s probably how most Huskers games will be defined for the rest of the season.

Inconsistency comes with youth, and it was evident in Autzen Stadium. Lee completed 19-of-41 passes and threw four interceptions in the biggest road game of his career. Receivers dropped passes and the offensive line struggled at times. The defense couldn’t keep the Ducks out of the end zone, at least in the first half.

Nebraska is ushering in new players at a lot of skill positions offensively. As much as Lee is thought to be the savior of the Huskers’ quarterback woes, the timing with a young receiving corps still isn’t quite right and the offensive line hasn’t shown the consistency in pass protection. Some of that has been an ongoing issue, some if it is attributed to youth and inexperience.

And sure, the defense returns seven starters, so it should’ve been more well-equipped to handle Oregon’s offense on Saturday. But Bob Diaco brought a new scheme to Lincoln and his system implementation is still a work-in-progress.

The Huskers are going to have their highs and lows throughout the season. It’s just the nature of the beast when you’re undergoing significant changes at key positions, both on the roster and on the staff. Saturday night was one of those low points.

Don’t buy into Nebraska being a bad football team, because the Huskers aren’t nearly as bad as that first half in Eugene might have you thinking.