You can hardly imagine a more ideal hire for Nebraska than Scott Frost. He played quarterback for the Huskers during the glory years in the 90s, and he was coming off an undefeated season at UCF.
There was every reason to be optimistic about this, and really there still is, even if this is not the start anybody had in mind.
It’s just that it’s harder to win at Nebraska than it looks. These are not Tom Osborne’s Cornhuskers, and haven’t been for a long, long time now. For all its national championships and fan support and national respect, it’s been 17 years — an entire generation — and five coaches since Nebraska finished a season in the Top 10. In a small, landlocked state without much of a natural recruiting base, Nebraska can’t afford to let that tradition slip too far into the past.
The Cornhuskers fell to 0-3 on Saturday with a humiliating 56-10 loss at No. 19 Michigan. The score was 39-0 at halftime, at which point Nebraska had 23 passing yards and minus-6 rushing yards. Meanwhile Michigan had 190 rushing yards and 115 through the air.
Then Michigan returned a punt for a touchdown.
This comes a week after Nebraska lost 24-19 at home to Troy and two weeks after a 33-28 loss at home to Colorado. The Huskers were scheduled to play Troy in the season opener, but a storm may have saved them from even further humiliation.
Nebraska is lousy.
Among Big Ten teams, only Rutgers has scored fewer points through three games. Entering Saturday, the Huskers ranked 10th in scoring defense, fifth in scoring offense, sixth in total defense and seventh in passing offense — all numbers that got worse as the day went on. Nebraska is also near the bottom of the league in both punt and kickoff returns, as well as sacks against.
You could say Nebraska’s run defense was what got exposed on Saturday. Michigan averaged 7.9 yards per rush attempt in the first half, creating light duty for quarterback Shea Patterson.
But you could also say Nebraska’s offense got exposed. Through the first two games, the Huskers had at least moved the ball some. But against a good-not-great Big Ten team, the Cornhuskers were out of their league.
None of this is a reflection on the quality of the Scott Frost hire — knowing all this, you’d still hire Frost if you had it to do over again — but it might be another in what is becoming a long series of indications that it’s harder to win at Nebraska than it looks, and certainly harder than it was when Frost was playing quarterback there.