Skip to main content


Or as Nebraska players and coaches have put it both this season and after the 28-21 loss to No. 16 Iowa:

"Same movie" - coach Scott Frost, multiple times

"Same script" – Frost

“It’s kinda been death by papercuts this year and the same thing happened today” - Frost

"Shot ourselves in the foot" - senior wideout Samori Toure

"An ongoing dream" - junior defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt

"Another punch in the face" - junior tight end Austin Allen

Leading 21-6 with under six minutes to go in the third quarter, the Huskers would not have offensive success the rest of the way.

Iowa added a field goal to make the score 21-9. Then a blocked Husker punt that was returned for a touchdown changed not only the momentum of the game, but also the mindset of the home players and coaches.

The mindset was that despite still being ahead 21-16 with a quarter to play, the game was over.

“The blocked punt was the game,” Frost said. “When you’ve been in as many games like this as we have, you try to arrest the negative momentum at that point.”

Frost being able to admit that the game was over once the other team got a single game-changing play is telling. It means that for whatever advances have been made in the culture during the Frost era, not only is this team not close, they are miles away from sustainable success.

Nebraska's next possession was a fumble at midfield by first-time starting quarterback Logan Smothers. Then came a safety when Smothers committed intentional grounding in his own end zone.

That's when Iowa tied the game at 21-21 on a fourth made field goal.

Nebraska's answer was a three-and-out, which the Hawkeyes turned into their only offensive touchdown of the game.

Read More

The Huskers, to their credit, utilized the sidelines and safety valves to move the ball into Iowa territory in the game's waning moments. But just as has happened several times before, a turnover ended those hopes as Iowa picked off a pass near the goal line.

Iowa ran out the clock to beat Nebraska for the seventh consecutive season.

“A lot had to go wrong in a row when we were up 21-6,” Frost said. “When the blocked punt happens, probably human nature (the mindset of ‘what’s gonna go wrong’) got in the back of their head.”

Before the blocked punt, Nebraska tallied 261 yards on 36 runs and 10 passes. After the blocked punt, Nebraska tallied 73 yards on eight runs and 14 pass plays.

The offense changed drastically, even for the couple of plays before the blocked punt. Smothers fumbled to end the third quarter but jumped on it. Out of the quarter break, Frost called a pair of passes that failed to pick up the first down.

As much as the players need to execute down the stretch, the play calling needs to not hang them out to dry when the game gets tight.

The loss means Nebraska will miss a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season. This is the Huskers' longest such stretch  since missing seven in a row from 1955 to 1961.

The one conference win is the lowest since 1958. And the .111 winning percentage in league games is the worst since 1908 when NU went 0-1-1 in the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Nebraska's .250 winning percentage in 2021 is the worst since the 1957 team went .100.

The eight one-score losses for the season are an FBS record.

All of that with perhaps the best defense in a decade and going out with a thud on senior day at Memorial Stadium.

Allen announced earlier this week that he won't be taking advantage of an extra season of eligibility. Instead, he's going to try his hand at the NFL. Allen improved his draft stock significantly this year, including in his final game making a pair of receptions for 55 yards. The 602 receiving yards this season broke Junior Miller's 1978 tight end record.

Outgoing-senior wideout Toure finished with six catches for 68 yards. Last week he tied Stanley Morgan Jr. for the 100-yard receiving games record in a season with five. His 898 receiving yards this season have him in a tie for sixth place on the Nebraska single-season yardage list.

Smothers, getting the start for the injured Adrian Martinez who has yet to announce his future plans, finished the game 16-for-22 for 199 yards and an interception, adding 70 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

Now the team turns to the offseason, where decisions remain from several players on their extra season of eligibility and any underclassmen that may be looking to transfer. Frost also needs to hire four assistant coaches, including an offensive coordinator who will handle play calling.

December hasn't even arrived and the 2022 already feels like it will be better, no matter who is returning, who is added, or who is coaching. It can't be any worse than 2021.

Kenny Larabee photos