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Whirlwind Campaign Ending Should Help Justify Nebraska Hires

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Nebraska football fans don’t ask for much as a blue blood program after tasting the success had during the '90s because once you get even a whiff of the best stuff, you always want more.

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They’d like to visit a nice bowl venue, see their team have a shot at a conference championship and in the modern age of college football, a Playoff appearance once in a while.

The Big Red won’t have that shot at a Big Ten championship this year and the closest they’ll get to the College Football Playoff is ruining the hopes of those who want to get in (hello, Sparty).

That said, Mike Riley may finish his initial year at Nebraska with a ho-hum record on the surface, but with its blotches could be some massive gains that looked impossible only a few short weeks ago. Stay with me here.

The Big Red finally sees a bye week after 11 games, but if the Huskers are going to reach a bowl, Rutgers must ultimately leave the field the lesser Scarlet Knights of the day this weekend.

With a 5-6 record, Nebraska goes up against a likely undefeated (and maybe top 5) Iowa squad after the Huskers finally let their muscles and joints rest for a week. Much like Michigan State, Iowa comes to Lincoln, but the trophy that the Big Ten tried to shoehorn into this contest won’t be the true prize.

It’s certain bowl eligibility for the Big Red versus a potential spot in the College Football Playoff for Iowa.

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Quarterback Tommy Armstrong said something noteworthy regarding Michigan State during Monday’s press conference. "We knew exactly what we were going to run, how we were going to run it, who we were attacking before we even entered the game.” That mentality can take Nebraska to the 7-6 finish line.

If that’s the case, yes Nebraska lost to Illinois and Purdue. However, they’d also have had to get by two of the Big Ten’s best to get into the postseason. Even I had Michigan State down as a surefire loss and this was with the thought that Nebraska would be relatively healthy.

Look at the front end of the season then add that potential back. Wouldn't that be an incredible adjustment by a coaching staff? It appeared that everyone was learning versus the Illini and Boilermakers. It was depressing.

By the same token, would you not argue lessons were learned if “Let Me Clear My Throat” rang through the Memorial Stadium sound system for a second time on Black Friday?

It certainly sounds like often-maligned offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf has picked up a thing or two when you listen to his quarterback.

"This is the play we're going to win it off of," Armstrong said he was told. "It was. It was crazy. We got to the locker room and he was like, 'I told you, I told you. This is the play we're going to win off and it happened twice in a row.'

He's a great coach. He prepared us well, we studied as much as we could. We dissected their defense as much as we could for that situation, and it was kind of funny, because we got into that same situation of what we thought we were going to get into."

I’ve mentioned Riley’s recruits being on board because it’s important for the new players under his regime to back their guy 100 percent. However, you’d be hard-pressed to say that Riley wasn’t able to at least tinker with what wasn’t working and turn it into something fun and more importantly win while doing so.

Should the Huskers find themselves in the postseason (let alone with a 7-6 record after all they’ve suffered), some crow needs to be ingested. Just a little.

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and like his Facebook page.