One of the main themes leading up to Nebraska's game with Wisconsin last week was "payback."
The Huskers were blown out at Madison a year ago and all of Nebraska was fired up, anxious to even the score this year in Lincoln.
Now The Nebraska Cornhuskers and their fans need to be prepared to play the role of villain in a similar script.
In 2011, the Ohio State Buckeyes had a 27-6 third quarter lead on Nebraska, and the Huskers had no answer for freshmen quarterback Braxton Miller. After racking up 95 yards and a touchdown through the air and 91 yards on the ground, Miller was knocked out of the game with an injury, changing the complexion of the contest as well as the game plans of both teams.
The end result was the largest comeback in Nebraska football history, with Ohio State feeling like they let one get away. Husker Nation knows that feeling. It's the one they felt after the loss to Northwestern in 2011.
On Saturday, Nebraska will enter legendary Ohio Stadium, a.k.a. "The Horseshoe" and be greeted by a blood thirsty crowd screaming for revenge and payback.
Due to NCAA sanctions, the Buckeyes cannot compete for a conference or national championship. As a result, the entire season is their bowl game, and running the table is the goal.
Miller has returned in 2012 and emerged as one of the premier players in college football. Making him more dangerous than last year is the addition of new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer has had success in grooming dual-threat quarterbacks in the past, winning a BCS bowl with Alex Smith and a couple of national titles with Tim Tebow. Smith would eventually be a No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick. Tebow won a Heisman trophy and has become a cultural phenomenon.
With Meyer, Miller has the potential to accomplish everything Smith and Tebow did. The next hurdle in his way is Nebraska, and the Huskers will need to be better on Saturday night than they have ever been against dual-threat quarterbacks in the Pelini-era to stop him.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has had to prepare for Urban Meyer-coached teams twice in his career as a coach or coordinator. They met twice while Pelini was running the defense at LSU, and Meyer was at Florida. They split those matchups, with Pelini's defense giving up 17 and 23 points in the two games.
With the way Nebraska has been moving the ball on offense this season, one must assume Pelini would gladly take those point totals this Saturday.
The bigger issue will be adjusting to a hostile crowd and playing the role of "the bad guy" one week after an emotional win at home.
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