When Ohio State went into Lincoln last season, there were plenty of people who thought Nebraska was going to put up a real fight against the Buckeyes and provide a strong test.
That turned into a laugher before halftime.
Ahead of Saturday's season opener, many expected Ohio State to come out of the gate swinging and cruise to a blowout win by the start of the third quarter. This is the matchup that turned into the stiffer test, though, as the Cornhuskers had the game tied at 14 midway through the second quarter and trailed by only 10 points at the break.
Though Ohio State did pull away in the second half, en route to a 52-17 win, the Huskers' performance on Saturday encouraged Nebraska head coach Scott Frost, especially considering that he believes the Buckeyes deploy a roster full of guys who will eventually be playing on Sundays.
“I was happy with how they competed,” Frost said. “I thought we tackled pretty well, but we gave up a lot of yards. I don't know if that's because we were playing such a good team. A ton of credit to them, their quarterback, the speed they have at their skill (positions). I think they have a lot of future pros on their team. At times, I thought the defense played well and battled, but we've gotta get more stops than that.”
When asked about whether or not Frost feels as if his program has started to shrink the massive talent gap between Ohio State and Nebraska, the Huskers' third-year head coach was optimistic in noting that this season's matchup – though it was only a three-point difference in terms of margin of defeat compared to last year's 48-7 loss – provided a glimpse of the program's ability to compete with the Buckeyes down the road.
“That’s game one. We probably got assigned the hardest challenge in the league on game one,” Frost said. “We’ve got a really tough one again next week, playing the Big Ten East champions and the Big Ten West champions (Wisconsin) week one and two. That’s the cards we were dealt. We’re just excited to be playing football. That’s one game, and more than anything I’m thrilled to be out there with the guys. Thought we definitely matched up better than we did a year ago.”
Since Frost took over as head coach in December of 2017, his first three recruiting classes (2018, 2019 and 2020) have each finished fourth in the Big Ten, and his fourth (2021) is currently ranked fifth in the conference.
“To beat a team and to take control of the league and your destiny and to be able to win those games, you need some veteran guys that are able to look those types of team in the eye and go out and whip 'em,” Frost said. “I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are ready to do that, and we need some more.”