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Bo Pelini’s big game inability keeps Nebraska Cornhuskers from being elite

What’s with Wisconsin and Bo Pelini? I mean, the Badgers have taken out some serious aggression on Pelini’s Huskers everywhere but Lincoln, Neb. since joining the Big Ten. It’s Wisconsin 174, Nebraska 72.

Think about that for a second.

In three games played outside of Lincoln, Neb. the Huskers have barely topped the 2012 Big Ten championship point total for Wisconsin.

But, what does that really mean? For me, it means Pelini can’t get his team to turn the corner in a big game scenario. After all, the Huskers had the Badgers right where they wanted them on Saturday, but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch.

Pelini’s team forced a huge fumble, took advantage of an 18-yard punt and bottled up Melvin Gordon en route to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter. However, with one missed assignment the whole thing came unraveled.

It was just the latest in a long line of big time choke jobs in big time games. Since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska is just 3-9 in games against Top 25 competition, and Pelini’s Huskers have now lost the last five straight against fellow Top 25 teams.

On Saturday, Pelini’s team choked, and he offered up platitudes about doing better in the future.

“At the end of the day, in this world, in this profession, I point the thumb,” Pelini said. “I take responsibility for this football team and how we played. It wasn’t good enough.”

Unfortunately, those are words we’ve heard from Bo Pelini plenty of times before. Taking accountability is great and all, but accountability also means fixing the problems that you face.

For the Huskers it has been getting over the magic hurdle of winning championships. Pelini has yet to bring anything more than a division title to Lincoln, a land where expectations used to be competing for national championships.

Pelini has defended his record of accomplishment in the past, and did it again on Saturday — noting that this team has won a lot of football games. He’s right in one respect, his Huskers team is sure to win nine games or more for the seventh straight season…a feat that only Alabama and Oregon can also lay claim to.

The problem is, that unlike Alabama and Oregon, Pelini’s Huskers don’t own a single conference championship, let alone national title game wins (Alabama) and appearances (Oregon).

It all means we’re left with a few scenarios as to why the Huskers, and Bo Pelini, are failing on the biggest of stages. None of which are good news for this once proud program.

Scenario One: The Badgers are just Bo Pelini’s kryptonite.

Scenario Two: Bo Pelini doesn’t know how to get his team to respond to adversity in big games.

Neither of those scenario’s are good, especially because Wisconsin isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the path to the Big Ten championship game is likely to go through Madison for some time to come.

If Pelini can’t figure out how to beat Wisconsin anywhere outside of Lincoln, Neb. he shouldn’t be the Huskers head coach.

If Pelini doesn’t know how to adjust and respond to adversity when the biggest of spotlights are on his team, he shouldn’t be the Huskers head coach.

The time for excuses and “the foundation of this program is just fine” platitudes is over. Pelini needs to show his team can step up to the big occasions and win more than they lose on that stage.

Nebraska isn’t paying Bo Pelini to feast on the small guys in the Big Ten, they are paying him to win big. He isn’t doing that, and that means he’s got to go, in my opinion (and certainly not that of the Nebraska AD).

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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