Nebraska blew yet another sure win, this time against No. 16 Iowa on Friday. The Cornhuskers led 21-6 midway through the third quarter and surrendered 22 unanswered points (including 19 in the fourth quarter) to bumble their way into an embarrassing 28-21 home defeat. It was the perfect encapsulation of Scott Frost‘s time as head coach at Nebraska.
The meltdown truly started early in the fourth quarter as the Huskers held a 21-9 lead. Nebraska faced fourth and eight from their own 27-yard line. The Huskers lined up for a punt, and Iowa’s Joe Evans blocked it, then teammate Kyler Fisher picked up up and ran 14 yards for an easy score. Nebraska 21, Iowa 16 with 14:16 remaining in the game.
Nebraska fumbled the ball away on its next possession but forced a Hawkeyes punt. Unfortunately, it left the Huskers pinned at their own seven-yard line. That didn’t work out too well as on the second play of the drive, quarterback Logan Smothers was pressured in the end zone and threw the ball into the ground. He was called for intentional grounding which awarded Iowa a safety. Nebraska 21, Iowa 18 with 9:56 remaining.
The Hawkeyes then received the ensuing free kick and marched the ball to Nebraska’s 26-yard line before the drive stalled. They settled for a field goal. Nebraska 21, Iowa 21 with 7:21 remaining.
Nebraska went three and out on its next possession and punted it away. Iowa took over on its own 24-yard line and raced down the field with a six-play, 76-yard drive that ended in a two-yard Spencer Petras touchdown run. Iowa 28, Nebraska 21 with 2:58 remaining.
Then the Huskers gave their fans some false hope. Starting from their own 25, they moved the ball into Iowa territory, reaching the 28-yard line with 43 seconds left. On second and 10, Smothers heaved the ball down the middle of the field, where absolutely none of his receivers were. Iowa’s Jermari Harris picked it off, sealing the game.
It was truly a horrid finish in front of a packed house in Lincoln. The worst aspects of Frost’s tenure were on display, including terrible play calling and absolutely inexcusable late-game management. The Huskers are now 3-9, have lost six in a row and their only wins have come over Fordham, Buffalo and Northwestern.
Since arriving on campus in 2018, Frost is 15-29, and he’s never won more than five games in a season. The turnaround simply isn’t coming. Which makes it even more puzzling that new athletic director Trev Alberts is sticking with his coach next season. There’s absolutely no evidence that’s the right move.
Frost has done the same thing for four years and seen absolutely no progress. Friday’s epic meltdown against Iowa was just another chapter in the same story.