Nebraska Football: Surprise Home Game Helps Huskers' Chances vs. UCLA

Erin Sorensen@erinsorensenContributor ISeptember 5, 2013

LINCOLN, NE - AUGUST 31: Nebraska Cornhuskers helmets are lined up during their game against the Wyoming Cowboys at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Wyoming 37-34. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

Nebraska fans should have been on the road to Hattiesburg, Miss., right now and the football team should have been preparing to follow. Things changed, though, as Tom Shatel of the Omaha World Herald pointed out.

When Nebraska originally scheduled Southern Mississippi for a series of games, it was intended to be home-and-home. That was until the Golden Eagles' athletic department needed a loan.

For $2 million and the additional $105,000 they would need in travel expenses, Southern Miss agreed to make the trip to Lincoln, Neb., for the second year in a row.

When the Golden Eagles came to Memorial Stadium in 2012, they left with a 49-20 loss. It also was toward the beginning of what would become a 13-game losing streak for Southern Miss.

The Golden Eagles most likely would not have minded being at home or at a neutral site. The Cornhuskers may not have minded, either.

In fact, in Bo Pelini's time as the Huskers' head coach, there have been moments where away games were almost more welcome than home games. Over the years, it has balanced itself out. But from 2008 through 2010, Nebraska had an equal or fewer number of losses on the road than at home. In 2009, for instance, Nebraska was 4-0 in conference play on the road.

So maybe heading to Hattiesburg wouldn't have been such a bad thing in Week 2. It's best that they snagged the game at home, though.

Nebraska's young defense is in a state of growth. Somewhere along the way, the "inexperienced but talented" narrative evolved into "incredibly talented." While this group does have talent, Week 1 against Wyoming was the first time many of those players had ever started a college game. For some, it was even the first time they took a snap since high school.

Pelini stressed in the weekly press conference on Monday that the defense needs to communicate more efficiently. He suggested that the crowd noise of Memorial Stadium was challenging for the new players, as it takes awhile to grow accustomed to performing in front of 92,000 screaming fans. Honestly, that's a fair statement.

It is not an excuse, though.

For Nebraska, having the opportunity to get another week at home is a blessing in disguise. Had it worked out for Southern Miss to find a neutral location, such as Kansas City's Arrowhead or New Orleans' Superdome, the Huskers' defense would have been forced into a new situation once again. By having the game remain in Lincoln, more familiarity with their own field and their own fans should be a positive prior to UCLA's visit.

Fans have made it clear their worry lies in the Bruins' trip to Memorial Stadium. By Week 3, the Huskers will have had two opportunities at home to adjust. If the noise was a challenge for the young defenders, Week 2 will help them craft their communication skills in the same environment.

If the young defense needs time to grow acclimated to the field, the fans or really anything else at all, there truly is no better place to do it than at home.

All in all, it's a win-win for Nebraska. Had it traveled for this game, it would have received $300,000-$500,000 in place of the estimated $5 million it will now receive for a home game. Plus, there is something to be said about not having to pack up and readjust to a new environment so early in the season. For Nebraska, getting comfortable at home is the best-case scenario with UCLA looming.

Nebraska fans love to travel and many would have made their way to Hattiesburg, New Orleans or Kansas City had the scheduled demanded it.  This time around, fans will have to wait just a little longer to invade a new town.

In terms of being prepared for UCLA, it's for the best.