Entering the 2022 season, Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s seat couldn’t have been hotter.
To begin his fifth season, Frost was 15-29 as head coach of the Cornhuskers and had yet to make a bowl game. Despite the struggles, Nebraska fans had high hopes for 2022 and maintained confidence in Frost. The Cornhuskers traveled to Ireland to play Northwestern on Saturday, which to many, was a must-win for Frost.
This past offseason, Frost seemed to understand that changes were necessary if Nebraska was to take a step forward. Frost hired former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who spent the last three years with the Panthers. Pitt averaged 41 points per game in 2021, and Whipple was a big reason why it was able to claim its first ACC title.
The play caller for his duration of his tenure at Nebraska, Frost was willing to take a step back and give Whipple the reins in 2022. Frost hit the transfer portal hard, reeling in starting quarterback Casey Thompson from Texas and talented wide receiver Trey Palmer from LSU.
For a team that finished 3-9 a season ago, there were few gimmes on the slate that Nebraska. Many saw Saturday’s contest against Northwestern as one of those games.
Nebraska scored with ease on its first drive on Saturday and all seemed well. Thompson looked unstoppable in the first half, even though Nebraska trailed 17-14 at halftime. Nebraska started the second half like it did the first and scored back-to-back touchdowns to again take an 11-point lead, 28-17.
From that point on, it was all Northwestern. The Wildcats scored with 11:34 left in the fourth to take the lead, 31-28. Nebraska had two chances to put a drive together and try to score late in the fourth, but a turnover ended the Cornhuskers’ comeback hopes.
More of the Same
Nebraska is 5-21 in games decided by one score during the Frost era. On Saturday, it was more of the same.
Despite the loss, Thompson was a bright spot, throwing for 355 yards and a touchdown, but couldn’t pull out the win. This was a huge win for Northwestern, and another heartbreaking loss for Nebraska.
Entering Saturday, there were real questions whether Frost would make be the head coach of the Cornhuskers in 2023. Now, the question is whether he makes it through 2022.
The faithful in Lincoln are some of the most devoted in the country, but after yet another heartbreaking loss, the feeling is that enough is finally enough. Looking at the rest of Nebraska’s schedule, it’s hard to find six wins.
Even if Nebraska could make a bowl game in 2022, that may not be good enough to retain Frost. For fans in Lincoln, every week is starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Critical mistakes and coaching decisions have plagued the Frost era — and on a seemingly weekly basis.
Flying from Dublin, Ireland to Lincoln, Neb. is a long trip regardless. For Frost, it had to feel even longer.
The luck associated with the nation of Ireland wasn’t on Frost’s side on Saturday. Nor has it been throughout his tenure at his alma mater.
Featured image courtesy of Scott Bruhn/Nebraska athletics