Time to Put Up or Shut Up for Nebraska Huskers and Fans

J.P. ScottSenior Analyst IOctober 20, 2012

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 05: Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini prepares to take the field with his team against the Northwestern Wildcats at Memorial Stadium November 5, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Northwestern beat Nebraska 28-25. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The big day is finally here. 

For the past year, there was one loss that clawed (pun intended) at the heart of the Nebraska players, coaches, and fans: the 28-25 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats in Lincoln last November.

Following that loss, there was a feeling, perhaps an attitude if you will, that Northwestern didn't earn that win, but instead, Nebraska handed it to them.

Until that day, whether or not they want to admit it, Nebraska fans looked down on the Northwestern football program. Sure, they'll clap if you show well against the Huskers at Lincoln, but make no mistake, they feel like they are better than you.

Much of this can likely be attributed to the histories of both programs. Historically, Nebraska is a college football blue blood. Northwestern is historically the doormat of the Big Ten.

So when the Big Ten doormat rolled into Lincoln and scratched history in the face in 2011, it left scars.

This wasn't suppose to happen. The Huskers were supposed to roll through the Big Ten little guys like Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern. The epic dog fights were supposed to be with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa.

Welcome to the Big Ten, where there are no guaranteed wins.

Looking at the rest of Nebraska's schedule, that has become very apparent. There are no gimmes left. This makes today's matchup with Northwestern that much more important.

So after two weeks off, Husker Nation is anxious to see the Big Red in action again. Adding to the anxiety is the revenge factor from last year along with knowing that another miscue will likely cost them a trip to the Big Ten Championship game.

Leading up to the game, we've heard how the Huskers are angry about the loss to Ohio State. They want to prove that the team who showed up in Columbus two weeks ago was not who they really are. They want to prove that last year's loss in Lincoln was a fluke.

They want to prove to the college football world that the Nebraska Cornhuskers are a better team, a better program, than Northwestern. They want to prove that history and tradition still mean something, and that the better team will win when they are supposed to.

The only problem is, they'll have to convince Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and his team who the underdog actually is. So far this season, that has been a tall order.

A Nebraska win today puts the Northwestern loss of 2011 behind them. A loss puts Husker Nation in its place alongside a conference full of fans who know not to underestimate or look down on any other team in the Big Ten.