A True Test: Columbia Awaits The Huskers

Josh KleinCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2009

Like any self respecting Cornhusker fan I despise bye-weeks, but in a way I’m thankful for this one.

Why? The answer is two-fold:

1. It gives us a chance to breathe and to reflect on the season that has been.

2. It gives the team time to recover from an oddly injury-prone game against UL-Lafayette.

This bye week presents both of these opportunities to the avid Husker fan.  We can both revel in the shut out victory over UL-Lafayette and pat our selves on the back with our ever increasing optimism about the rest of our season.

But when it comes down to it we all know what is coming: the second true test of the season a game in Columbia that may define the season.

I can’t help but reminisce about last season when the Huskers took to the road for the first time in the season to face their second true test in Texas Tech.  It was a great game, and Texas Tech handed victory to the Cornhuskers only for the scarlet and cream to let it slip through their fingers.

But, once again, that was last year, this is this year.  This is a Nebraska team that looks its best on defense than it has since the last time Bo Pelini coached the defense, but this is also a Nebraska team with shades of inexperience on the offensive side of the ball.

Say what you want about Matt O’Hanlon’s blown coverage in the fourth quarter to give Virginia Tech that game, but it wasn’t he who lost the game for the Big Red.  The onus is on the offense.

Zac Lee had less than an impressive game against the Hokie’s and the receivers looked like they dipped their hands in grease to make catching the ball more challenging.  Only the running of Roy Helu Jr. shed any sort of light on a bright spot for the Huskers.

So it comes, another road test.  No, Missouri’s defense is not cream of the crop, nor has their offense looked overbearing, but they are a team that not only has learned to win over the years, but has learned to play well at home, especially against Nebraska.

Nebraska has not won the last three times they’ve played in Columbia, and since Zac Lee looked rattled in the first road test this season Husker fans are no doubt waiting anxiously to see if he can right the ship and play with poise against a good team on the road.

This test is about the future of a program, it’s about Zac Lee, Rex Burkhead and Cameron Meredith all taking strides to that sort of dominance that has defined Nebraska football over the years.

It’s a question that has to wait yet another week to be answered, but given Zac Lee’s unwavering confidence I wouldn’t get too worried about it.  If there ever was a place for Zac Lee to flex his muscles and shut the mouths of critics clamoring to see Freshman phenomenon Cody Green step in and become the second coming of Tommie Frazier, it is in Columbia where no quarterback since Eric Crouch has recorded a victory.

It’s the second true test for the Husker’s this year and may be a coming out party for another Husker great.  Is Zac Lee ready to take the reigns of this Husker offense and lead them to prominence, or will it be another stagnant day in Husker-Nation as Zac puts together a second mediocre road performance?

The answers will come Thursday, and we can only wait