There won’t be any sweeping conclusions from a game in September against an FCS team. Not when it’s a blowout win over a Fordham program that only played 3 games last season and is just 12-25 over the last 4 years.

But for Nebraska, a 52-7 rout on Saturday just felt good. There’s no reason for any negativity on a day like this, because we all know that has flooded the Husker program the last few years. And pretty much all of that has been self-inflicted.

So playing in front of the first full house since 2019, Nebraska did exactly what it had to do. It wasn’t always pretty (another punt return mishap?), but the most important thing is that Nebraska leaves this game feeling good about itself. After all of the preseason talk from Scott Frost and others about this team being different, about the vibe being different, that actually felt true on Saturday. For their sake, it’s too bad this wasn’t the season opener, because that certainly would’ve been a much nicer way to start the season.

The Huskers still have a lot of improving to do, but consider the positives:

  • Nebraska racked up 633 yards, the second time in 3 games dating to last season that it has gone over 600 yards of offense.
  • Markese Stepp went over 100 yards, providing a much-needed jolt to a running attack that struggled at Illinois.
  • Adrian Martinez played a sound game in completing 17 of 23 passes for 254 yards, easing the pain of a shaky 16 of 32 effort at Illinois. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over.
  • After a less-than-stellar start, the defense settled in and pitched a shutout over the last 44 minutes and held its sixth straight opponent under 400 yards.
  • Numerous reserves got the chance to play, including backup QB Logan Smothers and backup RB Sevion Morrison, who scored twice. Nebraska might need those guys at some point.

Here’s the biggest takeaway for me, though. Nebraska is finally getting back to its roots and running the option!

I’m kidding, of course. But that was a nifty play.

My real biggest takeaway was that when things looked bad in that second quarter, Nebraska didn’t tuck its tail between its legs like it has so many times under Frost. The Huskers’ MO has been when adversity hits, they fold.

Up only 10-7 midway through the second quarter against a poor FCS program, admit it: You thought Nebraska was headed for disaster. The Rams were driving and even converted on fourth down. But the Huskers blocked the field goal attempt, and Martinez hit Samori Toure on the next play for 31 yards to set up the first of 4 straight TD drives.

Nebraska went from impending doom to Martinez being on the bench in the third quarter with a 31-point lead. Again, it’s just Fordham (and not, say, Iowa), but these are the positive steps a program like Nebraska needs to take.

Because let’s be honest, the West Division hasn’t looked great so far. Nebraska hasn’t either, but there’s going to be opportunities to pick up wins. Minnesota competed against Ohio State, but there wasn’t anything there that was scary (especially if Mohamed Ibrahim is out for any prolonged period). Northwestern got handled by Michigan State at home and Wisconsin made numerous mistakes against Penn State. I’m not picking Nebraska against those teams right now, but if the Huskers can stack games like this together, there’s a chance to surprise some folks after many wrote them off after that dreadful opener.

Next Saturday against Buffalo is another one of those games where Nebraska needs an easy win. Because after that, with Oklahoma and 4 straight B1G games (at Michigan State, vs. Northwestern, vs. Michigan and at Minnesota), the Huskers must be at their best. In order to make a bowl game, they probably have to go 3-1 in those conference games. That’s possible, and Saturday was a positive step to doing that.

Didn’t this season already feel like it was going off the rails for Nebraska? After an awful opener and a slow start against Fordham with a very challenging schedule ahead, even the most optimistic Nebraska fan had to be sweating. But at least for one week, Nebraska fans should feel good. Not that they are headed in the right direction necessarily, but that the the season hasn’t officially spiraled out of control. That’s a low bar, but it’s something to hang onto.

I know the Huskers aren’t inspiring confidence from many outsiders right now, myself included, but that’s why you schedule teams like Fordham. The players need these days to feel good about themselves, and that’s what Saturday was about—nothing more, nothing less.