Five burning questions heading into Maryland week
1. Can Nebraska keep its season alive for another week?
It’s been an uphill battle for Nebraska for a few weeks already, but now the Huskers’ backs are pressed firmly against the wall to keep their hopes of a bowl bid alive.
The task is clear: NU must win its next two games on the road against Maryland this weekend and at home vs. Iowa to get to the required six wins for postseason eligibility.
A loss to the Terrapins would put any of those aspirations to rest, and it would likely serve as the new low point in a season already full of disappointment.
How much fight do the Huskers have left in them? As bad as things have been this year, Nebraska will be favored to win on Saturday. Can they get the job done and keep their bowl chances alive for another week?
2. How bad is Robinson’s injury?
Nebraska was without one of its most important weapons in the loss to Wisconsin, as do-it-all true freshman Wan’Dale Robinson missed the game with an injury.
Robinson got hurt in the fourth quarter of NU’s loss at Purdue two weeks ago, and he didn’t practice all last week or even suit up on Saturday.
It’s unclear exactly what Robinson’s injury is, but it’s something fairly significant if he’s still this limited after two full weeks of rest and rehab.
That leaves his status for this week’s trip to Maryland – and possibly the rest of the season – a major question mark for the Huskers.
3. Will the Huskers get their defensive line back?
As if slowing down Wisconsin’s running game wasn’t hard enough, Nebraska had to try and do it without two-thirds of its starting defensive line.
Senior nose guard Darrion Daniels and senior defensive end Carlos Davis were both held out of the lineup on Saturday due to injury. Daniels didn’t practice all week, but Davis was a game-day scratch after telling the coaches he was too hurt to play.
That left guys like Ben Stille, Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas, Ty Robinson, and Fynn Anderson to all take on bigger roles for NU up front against the Badgers.
Maryland has some capable running backs and ranks in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten at 172.0 yards per game. Having two of their best defensive players back in the mix would be a much-needed boost for the Huskers.
4. Will NU keep riding Mills?
One of the best bright spots in Nebraska’s loss to Wisconsin was the breakout performance for running back Dedrick Mills.
The junior had by far his best game as a Husker with 17 carries for a career-high 188 yards and a touchdown, giving the Huskers’ offense the punch it needed to keep the game within reach.
Mills has shown flashes of that ability at times this season, but he’s never gotten enough of a workload to establish the kind of rhythm he got into on Saturday.
Given Robinson’s status and the limited options at running back, will Nebraska keep feeding Mills at that same rate?
5. Can Nebraska win a game it’s supposed to win?
As bad as things may seem in Lincoln right now, things have been even worse out at Maryland.
Not only are the Terrapins sitting at 3-7 coming out of their second bye week, but they’ve also been brutalized since the start of the Big Ten schedule.
After racking up yards, points, and wins over the first two weeks – including an upset of then-ranked Syracuse – Maryland is just 1-7 since and has lost five of its six conference games.
The Terrapins aren’t just losing, either. They’re getting destroyed, having been outscored by a combined 303-121 while going 1-6 in league play.
The one victory in that stretch (and 48 of those points) came against Big Ten bottom-feeder Rutgers. In its most recent three losses to Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio State, Maryland has been outscored 163-31.
So the numbers would suggest Nebraska should win this week, right? That all will depend on which Husker team shows up.