Nebraska vs. UCLA: AP Poll Disrespect Just the Fuel Huskers Need

Erin SorensenContributor ISeptember 9, 2013

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is tackled for a safety by defensive end Datone Jones #56 of the UCLA Bruins in the fourth quarter at the Rose Bowl on September 8, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  UCLA won 36-30.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When the AP poll was released midday Sunday, Nebraska fans were up in arms.

The Huskers, after a 56-13 victory over Southern Miss, had dropped from No. 22 to No. 23.

Considering Nebraska's big win the evening prior, fans expected a jump in the polls. However, it didn't go quite as planned.

So what gives exactly? After all, Nebraska jumped in the coaches' poll from No. 19 to No. 15. How can one poll agree that the Huskers deserve to be higher while another feels differently?

Objectivity is a funny thing. However, for the Huskers, it's not such a bad thing.

With UCLA's impending trip to Lincoln, Neb., the Huskers need all the adversity they can get. Historically, head coach Bo Pelini and his team tend to play well against it.

It's when the Huskers are heavily favored or overly confident that things tend to go awry.

Think about the 2012 Big Ten Championship matchup. It's not a fun game to look back on, but prior to it, Nebraska was a three-point favorite. The Huskers had already beaten the Badgers 30-27 earlier in the season. While it's challenging to beat the same opponent twice in one season, there was a fair amount of confidence that Nebraska would win.

That is until Wisconsin slapped a 70-31 beat-down on the Huskers.

It is a storyline that has played out time-and-time-again for Nebraska. When the Huskers find themselves at the center of too much hype, things fall apart. It happened in 2007 versus USC at home.

The No. 1 Trojans were a 10-point favorite over the No. 16 Huskers, but there were plenty of people who  believed the Huskers could pull it off. ESPN's GameDay showed up expecting just that, until Trojan quarterback John David Booty doled out 49 points to the Huskers' 31.

Then there was Wisconsin in 2011. The Badgers were an eight-point favorite over Nebraska. Wisconsin was ranked No. 7 at the time, but there was once again enough media hype to believe the Huskers could get the win. ESPN's GameDay was on hand yet again. Nebraska wound up losing 48-17.

So maybe the AP writers did Nebraska a favor. Dropping the Huskers one spot in the poll feels disrespectful, but in reality, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Pelini now has every reason to prove the critics wrong without the pressure of a prime-time game. While fans could argue that Pelini needs to be able to prove himself in prime time, why add extra hype when there is no need? If the Huskers get out of Saturday with a win over UCLA, it will be no less monumental because the kickoff was earlier in the day versus prime time.

Again, adversity does wonders for Nebraska. An example of that is the 2011 Ohio State matchup in Memorial Stadium. Critics expected the Huskers to falter against the Buckeyes. The Huskers were an 11-point favorite, yet many suggested the Buckeyes would win it outright.

Ohio State was up 21 points at halftime, until quarterback Taylor Martinez, with the help of I-back Rex Burkhead, rallied the Huskers to a 34-27 win. Nebraska was No. 15 heading into the game, but the boos from fans were deafening against Martinez before he turned it around.

So let the AP writers boo.

The Huskers are not necessarily the underdogs against UCLA, but the team definitely has plenty of motivation. How the 2013 season plays out could have a lot to do with the UCLA game. A win sets things up in a much more positive way. A loss puts Nebraska's back against the wall once again.

Upon seeing the latest AP poll, fans were not happy. While understandable, it's not necessarily a bad thing. If the Huskers pull off the win, people will take notice, including the AP writers.

In the end, where Nebraska falls on the polls next week is far more important than where they are today.