Fans at large didn’t ask for it and you may not have either. However, there’s at least the smallest wonder of how Bo Pelini would’ve done in 2015 thus far had he been given one more chance to prove he was the coach that Dear Ol’ Nebraska U needed.
Let’s take seven years of what we know about Pelini’s exploits as the Huskers' head man to help us determine if he could best Mike Riley’s efforts, meet them or do even worse. For the sake of argument, not only does Pelini get one more year, but his former staff does as well.
Remember that all injuries remain in effect, De’Mornay Pierson-El’s included.
BYU: One thing that Pelini could always be counted on is when running into a team with superior talent or coaching, he’d lose nine times out of ten. With that said, I see him having just as much trouble with Taysom Hill as Riley’s squad did.
I don’t think the game comes down to a Hail Mary, but Bronco Mendenhall’s boys still play rough and Bo goes berserk over the no-call that took out David Sutton (rightfully so). No matter who’s at the helm, the opening game winning streak dies. Bo starts out 0-1.
South Alabama: The talent disparity here is too much for the Jaguars to overcome and the score likely looks very similar. While Pelini doesn’t have a Rex Burkhead or Ameer Abdullah, he does have Tommy Armstrong and there’s worry that until DPE returns, he’ll overuse the quarterback in read option situations.
The improvements made with Riley and Langsdorf aren’t there, but Nebraska rides Terrell Newby, Mikale Wilbon and Imani Cross to victory. Pelini sits at 1-1 just like Riley.
Miami: This is the big one. Miami jumps out to a 17-0 lead almost immediately and lead 27-3 with 13:50 left to go in the third quarter. Pelini’s on the road facing a quarterback in Brad Kaaya who’s having a banner day and his team’s down by a huge margin.
The Hurricanes are faster, Armstrong’s making poorer choices and one of the best players on his team is sidelined. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck tries throws everything he can think of the kitchen sink at Miami.
However, not only does Nebraska fail to rally or come within an arm’s length of overtime, they get embarrassed and the Hurricanes enter the polls easily. Locals get restless with another blowout as Bo sits at 1-2.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles show shades of past scrappy teams and aren’t intimidated by Memorial Stadium. Pelini is again working with injuries playing a major factor considering defensive tackle Vincent Valentine is out.
Southern Miss saw Miami run on Nebraska, so Maliek Collins gets double-teamed, frequently causing the Big Red to give up chunks of yardage on the ground. The passing of quarterback Nick Mullens allows for plenty of scoring opportunities.
Beck is able to put together a game plan that leans on the talent edge giving Nebraska the ability to move the ball into opposing territory often. Unfortunately, the Huskers have to settle for three Drew Brown field goals and a few well-placed Sam Foltz punts once they get there.
Armstrong has a roller-coaster day and his work is for naught on a number of occasions, as Beck attempts a couple of pass plays to tight end Cethan Carter that fall incomplete. Bailing on tight end use, he attempts long bombs, one of which gets picked off late in a game that looked sloppy and ended sloppier.
Everyone is praying for Pierson-El’s return for a miraculous resurgence as the Huskers now have a 1-3 record.
Bottom Line: Mike Riley takes the comparison with a 2-2 record, but not simply because he is Pelini’s replacement.
If you review, Pelini required that one extremely special player to always take over on the field who often got run into the ground. Since he didn’t have Pierson-El, that possibility was taken away from him.
Once games got out of hand, he became flustered and his players followed suit. He claimed he knew how to stop the run, yet put up historically bad numbers trying to do so.
As of this writing, Nebraska claims the No. 7 rushing defense in the country (no doubt in large part to the grand number of passing yards being given up, but still a notable statistic). Like him or not, Bo would be setting the table for his departure from Lincoln already.