LINCOLN — In one week, a promising start to Nebraska's season went up in smoke against a team Alabama and Auburn won't schedule to play and LSU wishes it didn't.
Nearly everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Nebraska against Troy in Lincoln on Saturday.
If Scott Frost was looking for his team to make that game-two improvement we hear so much about, this wasn't it.
Not even close.
Troy 24, Nebraska 19.
Don't look now, but Nebraska has lost eight of its last nine games and six in a row.
Simply put, Big Red is in the tough spot of having to learn to win again after being decimated under previous regimes.
"It's just got to happen," Frost said about winning. "They've been working hard enough and they deserve to win. They deserve to win a bunch of games as hard as they've been working. Sometimes it's got to happen, and once it does things get a lot better. But I've got a bunch of guys in the locker room who are broken-hearted and it doesn't hurt anyone worse than the coaches and those guys in the locker room."
Players talked about learning to do the little things right, and Frost said missing on a lot of little things become big things.
Turnovers, penalties, poor kick coverage, missed tackles on defense, late hits — a real buffet of disaster.
At one point in the first half, Nebraska's linebackers committed personal fouls on successive plays, including a targeting call against Mohamed Barry that led to an ejection.
Nebraska committed 10 penalties for 77 yards and three turnovers. NU was four for five in the red zone, but two drives ended in field goals. If Nebraska finds a way to score touchdowns we'd be writing a different story.
"I can't tell you how much we talked about that all week and it happens again," Frost said. "So, we've got to do a lot better job as coaches."
This team has had its share of adversity early in the season and now it gets real next week on the road at Michigan, and a subsequently brutal conference slate.
The mark of a great team is the ability to keep up its intensity and execution every game.
Sadly, Troy came into Lincoln ready to go toe-to-toe with Nebraska, but NU just didn't match the Trojans in execution or intensity for much of the game.
Feels like this program truly is starting from square one: Having to learn to win again.
As strange as that sounds, it's the only explanation for the inconsistency this program continues to fight.
The shortfalls have become systematic and habitual.
With 5:12 to play in the first half the Memorial Stadium crowd was stunned, as Troy took a 17-0 lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by BJ Smith.
NU bounced back to narrow the lead to 17-10 at the 10:25 mark of the third quarter with a Barret Pickering 23-yard field goal.
Nebraska was electrifying at times in game one, worthy of praise for great defense and bringing back the fight this program has lacked for so long.
Game two leaves you believing this rebuild will indeed take more time than anyone wants to admit.
It's not a rebuild in the sense that the roster is depleted of talent, but a rebuild on the mental aspects.
"It's the same thing as last week," linebacker Luke Gifford said. "Do some good things, but it doesn't matter we lost. That's the way it is. As a defense we've got to take that step. It sucks to keep telling everybody that we're almost there. We're almost there. And then have it not happen. It's where we're at right now. We've got to find whatever it is to help us take that step."
To a man, Nebraska's offensive line far outweighed Troy's defensive front by a long shot, yet NU struggled to get a consistent push. The continued turnovers, mistakes and special teams breakdowns are signs of a team not yet there mentally.
Building a mental toughness will be the biggest challenge Nebraska's coaching staff faces week to week as NU begins Big Ten play.
It can be quite a burden to keep a team's interest when Nebraska is working hard in practice and still losing games.
"There were obviously some positives, but at the end of the day, we had plenty of chances to take that game over defensively," defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg said. "We let in some explosive plays and that killed us. The guy who is going to have my respect is the guy who gets up every time he's knocked down. That doesn't matter if you're 0-2 or 2-0. It doesn't matter the circumstances. If you get knocked down, you've got to get back up."
One thing Nebraska football prided itself on for a generation was the ability to bring its best game to the turf every week, regardless of the opponent.
Keep in mind, this Troy team beat LSU on the road last season and always has been the ugly stepchild in Alabama always fighting for attention.
Troy is known for giant-killing and they caught a Nebraska program in transition.
Despite a lack of patience among Nebraska faithful, one thing Frost and company can't do is panic and change course. This is a staff that believes in what it's doing and already has this group of players believing.
"If I change who I am and what I do, and our coaches change who they are and what they do because of results," Frost said, "then we’re not being honest in the first place. We might work even harder, redouble our efforts, try to keep trying to fix things that are wrong, but nobody's going to change."