Now the recovery process begins.
Nebraska will tumble far out of the AP Top 25 following its 41-21 loss to UCLA (after being No. 23 last week), and most likely make an exit from the USA Today coaches poll, as well.
It has a Football Championship Subdivision opponent on deck, then two byes and no ranked Big Ten opponents over the following five Saturdays. In short, no immediate chance for redemption or chance to regain some respect nationally.
So what did NU head coach Bo Pelini say to his team after it watched the Bruins score the final 38 points Saturday for the Huskers’ worst loss in a non-conference home game in Memorial Stadium since 1961?
“I just told our team that they can’t worry about what’s happening on the outside,” Pelini said. “We know what we’re capable of as a football team. You have to stick together in times like this.”
This one will sting because of the 21-3 lead that the Huskers held in the first half. It will hurt because NU didn’t finish off an opponent for the second time in three weeks.
NU offensive lineman Spencer Long said it will be important to “learn from the feeling.”
“Don’t forget about it,” Long said. “Just remember to never give a team life and let them come back. Learn from it and move forward. It’s done.”
Wrapping things up from Memorial Stadium:
>> Nebraska had not lost a non-conference home game by 20 or more points since a 28-6 loss to Syracuse and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis in 1961. That team finished 3-6-1 and led to Bill Jennings being replaced the following year by Bob Devaney.
>> UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley shook off a slow start to complete 16 of 24 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. In two meetings with the Huskers, the sophomore has thrown for 599 yards and seven TDs.
>> Taylor Martinez went over the 10,000-yard mark for career total offense, pushing his school-record total to 10,078. The senior, however, was sacked twice and finished with minus-13 yards rushing.
>> Quincy Enunwa caught two touchdown passes to give him five on the season. The senior had three in his first three years as a Husker.
>> Despite its defensive problems, Nebraska had 12 tackles for losses, led by defensive end Avery Moss with three.
>> NU cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste’s three interceptions this season have included returns of 43, 42 and 34 yards.