If this season is going to be different for Nebraska, how the Cornhuskers defeated Miami will be a good example why.
A Nebraska team the last few years that found it way to four losses or found itself combusting on the sideline on Saturday found itself settling into an identity and a 41-31 win.
At the same time, Miami gave Nebraska every excuse to lose its cool. Chippy play and personal foul penalties kept the game teetering on the very of a brawl.
“I thought it got a little out of control,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini told the media. “I thought it could have been managed better. At the end of the day, there's going to be some of that. Two teams playing hard going after each other. But it got a little out of control there for a while."
Instead, Nebraska was in full control of its faculties.
In a key sequence in the fourth quarter, Miami, trailing by 10, was intercepted in Nebraska territory, picked up two personal fouls at the end of the play. With Nebraska on offense, Miami was called for a face mask penalty on a vicious takedown of running back Ameer Abdullah by the neck.
Abdullah finished the drive with 24 yards to set up the field goal to put it away.
Perhaps the only strange part of the game-sealing drives in the fourth quarter for Nebraska was their brevity.
The Cornhuskers looked like an old Nebraska team on the ground, at least as far as production.
By feeding Abdullah, Nebraska put together consecutive scoring drives of 14 plays for a touchdown, 11 plays for a field goal and another 11 for a touchdown.
Along the way Nebraska racked up 343 rushing yards, including 229 from the Heisman contender Abdullah.
The methodical and cool-headed approach means Nebraska will do something it hasn’t the last two seasons: Enter Big Ten play without a loss.
The last two seasons, Nebraska lost in September for UCLA, helping to set the tone for rocky years that both ended with four losses.
This season is starting to look like it might be different.
“I thought our guys handled themselves well in those times,” Pelini said. “There were a couple times where we had a chance. We didn't retaliate. We were basically pulling guys off. There was a chance it could have gotten out of control.”