With just three weekends of college football remaining in Big Ten play each game has added incentive for every team. A win or loss can mean so many things for a player, a team, or a program. Wins or losses may make or break a career for a player. A win or loss could contribute in a rise or fall of draft status for a potential draft prospect (kickers, quarterbacks, wide receivers, etc.). For a coordinator their job may be on the line especially when a team has performed well but perhaps not up to the expectations that were originally placed on the team at the beginning of the season. If a team has been relatively successful but boosters, fans, and administration feel a move must be made, often times a head coach may be safe but a coordinator will be a sacrificed to appease the masses. A win or loss could result in a team replacing the head coach and his staff entirely. If conference championships and national championships are no longer a possibility some administrators may already be looking forward to the next season and be in the process of evaluating whether or not their current coach is the man who can get the job done, and a loss while this internal debate is happening can be very detrimental to a coach’s career. Recruiting is also becoming more intense as the weeks progress and young men ready to begin their college football careers want to sign up to play with a program that is secure and has the potential to win. Finally a win or loss this time of year could ultimately decide where a team lands when it comes time for bowl selection.
This weekend the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Penn State Nittany Lions. Both of these football programs of course have more at stake than just a win or loss on their respective 2013 record. The two teams have similar records as the Huskers are currently sitting at 7-3 while the Penn State squad is currently sporting a 6-4 record. At this point conference records are no longer relevant for either squad as both are out of contention for a Big Ten championship. The Huskers may have a little bit more at stake in this contest than their counterparts do.
First of all, the Huskers had much higher expectations than the Nittany Lions did at the onset of the 2013 season. The Huskers badly wanted to contend for a Big Ten championship this season. Some would say that the Huskers did contend up until their loss to the Michigan State Spartans last week, but ultimately they put themselves in a must-win situation because of their loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a game that they were favored to win. Also the Huskers’ performance against the Spartans was not at the caliber necessary for a team that hopes to travel to Indianapolis and compete with Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes. The Huskers need the win this week to erase the memory of last week’s loss.
Most importantly the Huskers need to get the win this weekend to ensure the state of their program. The players at Nebraska truly love to play for their Head Coach Bo Pelini. Pelini has proven to be a coach that players love to rally behind in times of turmoil. The Cornhuskers have a lot of small things at stake, but in the current situation the topic that supersedes all others is the fact that wins will make it much harder for the administration at Nebraska to look in a different direction for a head coach. The Nittany Lions need to pay close attention to how the Huskers handle this situation. They currently have a young head coach who seems to be the savior for the program, and their situation is very similar to the situation in Nebraska when Pelini got his job.