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Nebraska Football: Cornhuskers Midseason Review and Second Half Preview

Trey Palmer's record-setting performance against Purdue cemented his status as the Huskers' MVP so far.
Trey Palmer, Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

Palmer leads the country in receiving yards with 781 with 237 of those coming in one game.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers' first seven games of the 2022 college football season served up a variety of emotions sitting at 3-4. If a season-opening loss to Northwestern (1-5, 1-2) didn't make it clear Scott Frost wasn't the coach for this gig, a 45-42 embarrassment delivered by Georgia Southern did.

The powers that be in Lincoln determined waiting until Oct. 1 wasn't worth $7.5 million in buyout savings, and Frost was dismissed. Enter Mickey Joseph.

The latest former Nebraska quarterback-turned-Husker football head coach has provided a breath of fresh air across the board. Rampant good vibes are causing some fans to suggest — if not demand — athletic director Trev Alberts call off his search for a new head of the program.

What's next? Good question. But let's pause and assess where the Huskers stand.

Offensive MVP: Trey Palmer, WR

The transfer portal provided Nebraska with several new skill position additions, including former Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson. He's taken several lumps, but Palmer repeatedly bails his signal-caller out with absurd catches and simply being too fast for the competition. Thompson can safely launch passes knowing Palmer is downfield somewhere.

Defensive MVP: Luke Reimer, LB

The Huskers' defense (no Blackshirts this year per Joseph) has been sketchy, but a linebacker corps spearheaded by Reimer has done its best to clean up messes. He leads the team with 49 tackles (19 solo) and bullies his way into offensive backfields.

Best Moment of First Half: Mickey Joseph's First Win as Interim Head Coach

Exorcising demons that result in a 364-day FBS victory drought is worthy of bliss, no matter who you are. That goes double when you're trying to establish momentum in a football program from scratch.

Best Newcomer: Malcolm Hartzog, CB

Hartzog burst onto the scene by scoring the Big Red's first blocked punt touchdown in 13 seasons. The true freshman took hold of a starting cornerback spot and hasn't looked back. After getting picked on early by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights — understandable as he stands all of 5-9 — he would seal a 14-13 comeback win with his first career interception.

Biggest Surprise: Team Mentality Following the Removal of Scott Frost and Erik Chinander

A renewed sense of pride under Joseph and interim defensive coordinator Bill Busch wasn't unexpected. The amount of contrast in team culture from August to today, that's impressive. Win or lose, there's no denying this is a team playing for each other.

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

1. Any quarterback not named Casey Thompson
Chubba Purdy's time under center has been... not great. Nebraska's quarterback room runs nine-deep according to the official roster. Some of those names must become viable options should Thompson need a stand-in.

2. The single-season receiving record
Curren Cincinnati Bengal Stanley Morgan set the bar to clear at 1,004 yards in 2018. Palmer has 781 after racking up a single-game record 237 against Purdue. With five games left in the regular season, it's safe to say he's not done scribbling his name in Huskers football lore.

3. Nebraska vs. Iowa
It's been seven years since the Big Red could claim bragging rights over the Hawkeyes. Expect an even saltier slugfest than usual in Iowa City for what could be Joseph's last game as interim head coach.

Ranking the Toughest Remaining Games on the Schedule

1. at Michigan, Nov. 12
2. Illinois, Oct. 29
3. Wisconsin, Nov. 19
4. Minnesota, Nov. 5
5. at Iowa, Nov. 25

Podcast: Midseason Review, Second-Half Predictions, and Dream Conference Championship Games

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@Bcav402). To contact him, click here.