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What Nebraska's Loss to UCLA Means for the Cornhuskers' 2012 Season

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What Nebraska's Loss to UCLA Means for the Cornhuskers' 2012 Season
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The Nebraska Cornhuskers’ lost to UCLA 36-30 at the Rose Bowl Saturday night. It is hard to find more passionate fans than Husker Nation and Sunday is now a day of mourning in Nebraska. But what does the loss to UCLA mean for the Cornhuskers’ 2012 season?

Don’t panic Husker fans, the season is not over! The loss to UCLA means Nebraska is no longer in the National Championship picture, but was that really a realistic goal for the Cornhuskers anyway? Nebraska’s goal this year was to win the Big Ten Championship and they still have a very good chance at accomplishing that goal.

The Big Ten Conference has not looked very good early in the season. Wisconsin, one of the preseason favorites to win the conference title, struggled last week against UNI, pulling off a narrow victory, and completely imploded this Saturday, losing to Oregon State 10-7. Their high powered offense couldn't even manage a score until late in the 4th quarter.

And Nebraska and Wisconsin were not the only teams from the Big Ten Conference to lose on Saturday. Iowa lost 9-6 to Iowa State, Penn State lost 17-16 to Virginia, Purdue lost 20-17 to Notre Dame and Illinois lost 45-14 to Arizona State.

Ohio State has looked like the best team from the conference, but if the Cornhuskers can find a way to stop quarterback Braxton Miller, Nebraska could win the game in Columbus, Ohio. It will not be an easy task the way the Blackshirts defense has played this season, but Ohio State is ineligible for the postseason, anyway.

Nebraska must put the lost to UCLA behind them and concentrate on the rest of the season. Even with the loss on Saturday, Nebraska has looked like one of the best teams from the Big Ten Conference. A return to the Rose Bowl in January is not out of the picture.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

If Nebraska is to win the Big Ten Championship, they have work to do.

The Cornhuskers have two primary problems that must be fixed. The Blackshirts must learn to tackle and the offense must learn to convert on third down.

Nebraska’s defense gave up 648 yards to UCLA. That number would be drastically smaller if the Blackshirts would not have missed so many tackles.

There were many times when Nebraska’s front four found their way into the UCLA backfield, yet almost every time the front four came up empty. Nebraska must find a way to sack the quarterback when they are in the opposing team’s backfield.

The Blackshirts must also find two more linebackers to complement Will Compton. Last season, linebacker Lavonte David was a one-man-show for the Cornhuskers. This season the same can be said about Will Compton.

It is early in the season, so Nebraska still has time to find some talent on defense. If the Cornhuskers defense continues to miss tackles after the Arkansas State and Idaho State games, it could be a long season for Husker Nation.

Another problem is their inability to convert on third down. Nebraska was 1-11 on third down conversions against UCLA. Nebraska is able to perform well on offense when the defense does not know what play is coming, but when Nebraska is in obvious passing downs, it has been easy to stop the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska will have time to work out their issues against Arkansas State and Idaho State. When the Cornhuskers begin their Big Ten Conference schedule, don’t be surprised if Nebraska is running on all cylinders.

Saturday night’s game against UCLA was just a bump in a long road back to the Rose Bowl. Keep your heads up Husker Nation; Nebraska still has a lot to accomplish in 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @HuskerMagic

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