This is not one of those games that you give credit to Iowa State. This is one of those games the Cornhuskers blew. Simply put. They outgained ISU 362 to 239 and left at least 28 points on the board by not being able to hang onto the football. It was a school record negative-eight turnover margin and a school-record-tying eight turnovers, so it’s happened before, perhaps you just chalk this up as one of those games.
What I want to see moving forward is how head coach Bo Pelini handles this latest loss and how he prepares the team for this next game against Baylor. How the team responds, in my mind, tells us whether or not Pelini has what it takes to coach in the Big 12. Do the Huskers bounce back or do they turn the other way?
I’m not buying Pelini’s answer that health issues didn’t play into the performance of running back Roy Helu? He fumbled on the first offensive play of the game, then fumbled in the third quarter losing the ball into the end zone which resulted in one of two touchbacks because of fumbles.
Helu was nursing a sore shoulder all week and on his second fumble didn’t take a particularly hard hit that caused the ball to jar loose. If Helu wasn’t bothered by an injury then how does the second leading rusher in the Big 12 get just three carries in the first half and five for the game. Helu finished with just 24 yards.
There were several other players who could have stepped up and been heroes. Running back Dontrayveous Robinson had 77 yards rushing on 15 carries and NU’s lone touchdown, but he too had the ball ripped out of his hands at the ISU five taking points off the board. The biggest miscue came on a third and five when Zac Lee found Niles Paul who avoided being tripped up at the ISU 12 only to fumble the ball on his way to an easy six, then lose control of the ball while trying to fall on it at the two which resulted in another touchback.