It’s hard to believe the renewal of a rivalry like Nebraska-Oklahoma could be the opening act for anyone — despite its dreaded-by-some Big Noon Saturday timeslot. But with that moral victory behind them, the Huskers’ main event might be coming up next.

“We definitely need it,” quarterback Adrian Martinez said. “Going down the stretch here every game is a ‘need-win’ for us here. That’s how we’re approaching it. We know that any given Saturday we can win those games, so we need to approach each game with the same intensity we did with the Oklahoma game.”

Spartans ahead

Michigan State is ranked, but not many outside of coach Mel Tucker and his team saw that coming.

So if the Spartans are overrated and the Huskers are underestimated, opportunity appears.

“Well they are well coached well disciplined,” Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said “They have been opportunistic with turnovers, particularly in the last game. I think their running back is special. The quarterback has had a really good start to the season — can do anything they ask him to do. They are just solid everywhere. When you look at Michigan State, as long as I can remember, it is a black and blue physical team. So we know we are in for a fist fight when we go up there Saturday night. It is going to be a fun environment.”

A fun fist fight, huh? So did the Oklahoma loss prepare Nebraska for that?

“I think we are going to be in a lot more games like that,” Frost said. “We played a really good team on the road. I cannot say enough about that Oklahoma program and coaches. That is a great test for us. We are probably the best team we have been going into conference play since I have been here, and I do not think there is any doubt of that. So we are going to get a lot of opportunities to win some good games and close games, and I cannot wait to see that happen for these guys.”

B1G & strong

Unfortunately, the conference won’t be doing the Huskers any favors on the schedule.

Many ranked teams await, with potentially more to come.

“I think it is deep,” Frost said. “Like I said, week to week any team could beat any team. Everybody has good players and everybody has good coaches and good schemes. It comes down to a few plays here and there or turnovers. That is where you cannot be a team that makes mistakes. It gets yourself beat.”

Fewer mistakes

Yet, Nebraska is the current poster child for making mistakes that cost it tight games.

“Those guys know that it’s unacceptable, and that we all have to get it cleaned up,” Martinez said. “It’s on all of us and not just on them.”

Frost says he’s working to change that.

“We are not very tolerant. I am just going to continue to harp on the guys. If we play with speed and precision, we have enough talent to be in every game that we play. This league is tough. We are going to have eight conference games, and I think five of the eight are ranked right now. I do not think there is a team that we cannot play with and are not going to have a chance against. But if you do not play well, then any of them can beat you. That is kind of where we are — that is kind of where the league is. Mistakes get you beat. They have gotten us beat too often, and we need to keep being intolerant.”

With one exception, apparently.

“If we are going to get penalties, I would rather them be aggressive penalties,” Frost said. “I would rather tell a guy ‘whoa’ than ‘giddy up.’ We will calm him [Cam Jurgens, who had two personal fouls Saturday] down a little bit, but that is the attitude we are looking for.”

Whatever it takes to win. Frost thinks Nebraska’s on the brink of a new middle name.

“One little block, a little bit better hitting a hole, a little bit better and generating explosive plays in the run game. We start doing that, we will be pretty dangerous.”

Time will tell.