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McNeese State vs. Nebraska final score: 3 things we learned from Huskers' 31-24 escape

One of college football's proudest programs was humbled by a small school from Lake Charles, La.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Through 59 minutes, the mighty No. 19 Nebraska Cornhuskers were tied at home with the McNeese State Cowboys from the Southland Conference. And then running back Ameer Abdullah struck, breaking an impossible run to seal it with 20 seconds left:



The Huskers escaped. The fans went home sort of happy. But that mood is not gonna last very long.

McNeese State is a decent FCS opponent, having made the FCS playoffs last year and a handful of times within the past decade. But when you're in the AP Top 25, when you're the school of Tom Osborne and Bob Devaney, and when your state's fans have some of the highest expectations in college football, there is no distinguishing between a mediocre mid-major, a good FCS team, or a bad NAIA team. You do not perform like this at Nebraska.

Three things we learned

1. Nebraska's offense is still Nebraska's offense. Perhaps the most frustrating unit in college football remains exactly that. For the last four years or so, Cornhusker quarterbacks have been capable of the highest highs and lowest lows, frequently in the same game. Saturday was no exception -- the Huskers out-gained MSU by only 99 yards.

Tommy Armstrong's completion percentage hovered around 50. He threw a 98-yard pick-six, typically a point swing of at least 10. And if not for another day of acrobatics by Jordan Westerkamp, the aerial numbers would look even worse.

Nebraska did lose star receiver Kenny Bell and contributor Jamal Turner for the day (update: Turner is done for the season), an ineligible man penalty took away a Westerkamp miracle that nearly set up the winning score minutes before the actual one, and a clipping penalty took away an earlier touchdown. But that should not matter for a Big Ten power against an FCS opponent.

(Michigan State's defense is one month away.)

2. McNeese State's off to a good start! The Cowboys entered the day ranked No. 6 in the FCS coaches poll, and came within a few yards at one point of their first-ever win over a ranked FBS team and their first-ever win over a power-conference team in its first game of the year. It wouldn't have been the program's first FBS win -- MSU has beaten South Florida and Middle Tennessee State, and at this point is one of those FCS teams you just *do not schedule* if you know what's good for you.

McNeese State at No. 13 Sam Houston State on Oct. 11 is now one for FCS fans to circle in Sharpie.

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3. The Summer of Bo is over. We're as sad to say goodbye to it as everyone else is.

After openly sorta-calling for his own job last November, the Nebraska head coach followed it up by charming all of our hearts out all offseason long, picking up a contract extension and a cat alike.

And here we are, with a Huskers roster that shows no real signs of progress -- albeit one with a higher-than-average number of injuries on both sides of the ball. And now, after one of the worst results of his tenure, we're right where we started. At the moment, of course.

A 10-win season makes this all but disappear, and the Big Ten West is certainly ripe for the taking, no matter how bad Nebraska's Saturday went. But ... anyone laying money on any of that right now?