Nebraska Football: How Will the Cornhuskers Respond Against Ohio State?

Kraig LundbergAnalyst IIIOctober 5, 2011

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 27: Quarterback Sam Keller #9 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers talks with head coach Bill Callahan during a game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium October 27, 2007 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Are the ghosts of the 2007 season haunting the Nebraska Cornhuskers?

Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald seems to think so.

It's tough to look past the eerie similarities. A big loss to a big opponent on a big stage, a ramp-up in the intensity of practice, a struggling starter expressing frustration with the criticism despite a decent win-loss ratio.

All that's left is the subsequent meltdown.

Will such a meltdown happen to the Huskers again?

With Bo Pelini leading the way, it's hard to believe it will. As Chatelain points out, Nebraska has responded very well to adversity during Pelini's tenure.

A 52-17 loss to Missouri in 2008 gave way to an inspired, 37-31 overtime loss to highly-favored Texas Tech in 2008. A 62-28 drubbing by Oklahoma that same season was followed by an impressive 45-35 win over a Kansas team coming off a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl victory.

In 2009, a two-game stretch of awful losses (31-10 to Texas Tech and 9-7 to Iowa State) was followed by five straight wins, one of them over No. 20 Oklahoma, and the infamous one-point loss to No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 Championship game.

In 2010, the Huskers dropped the ball (literally) against the unranked Longhorns, but went on to defeat two highly-ranked, undefeated squads in Oklahoma State and Missouri.

Based on these results in his first three years, you have to believe that Pelini knows how to bounce back and avoid season meltdowns.

With that being said, everyone will be watching how the Cornhuskers respond to the 48-17 lashing administered by the Wisconsin Badgers, a team that we now know is a legitimate National Championship contender.

The Huskers will be taking on the significantly-depleted Ohio State Buckeyes in Lincoln in a game that will be attended by several high-profile recruits.

Needless to say, this game has major implications for the 4-1 (0-1) Huskers. Not only will they be searching for their first conference win, but they will be under pressure to perform at a very high level to impress the visiting prospects.

With the state of disarray Ohio State is in right now, it would be an upset if the Huskers lost. However, that's not completely out of the question. If Pelini cannot find a way to rally the troops and improve their game, the talented Buckeyes could come in and steal the win.

Despite starters Dan Herron and DeVier Posey being ruled out for their sixth game in a row, offensive lineman Mike Adams will be back in the line-up for a line that badly needs him.

In addition, the Buckeye defense held a high-octane Michigan State offense to just 10 points last weekend, proving that they should be able to stick with anybody in the conference (aside from Wisconsin, perhaps) on defensive play alone.

Ohio State may not be a championship-caliber team, but last season's loss to Texas should wake anyone up from the delusion that Nebraska will walk out on Saturday and gather its first conference victory with ease.

The bottom line is, Nebraska is a very young and inexperienced team. It's not time to hit the panic button, and if history is any indication, this team will round into shape. As inconsistent as the Cornhuskers seem to be from play to play, the exceptionally-high talent level is undeniable.

Still, the intensity and sense of urgency needs to be ramped up considerably this week and beyond. Will leaders must step up? Will consistency be developed?

If not, the Huskers could be in for another disappointing season. Those questions will begin to be answered this week against the Ohio State Buckeyes.