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COMMENTARY

Tom's Takes: Quarterback carousel starts at Nebraska, but does it even matter?

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Sam McKewon breaks down the Illinois vs. Nebraska football game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Saturday, October 29, 2022. Illinois won the game 26-9.

1. Logan Smothers or Chubba Purdy? Running quarterback or pass? It makes for a good debate. But also, it doesn't matter who you play if you can't block or protect. That's the predicament Mickey Joseph finds himself in with Minnesota and Michigan on deck, with Wisconsin and Iowa defenses in the hole. NU's best chance in any game is if Casey Thompson plays. But even then, Thompson left with an elbow injury late in the second quarter after being hit while throwing a pass. Meanwhile, Anthony Grant ran 12 times for 61 yards against the nation's No. 1 defense. I'm not telling you anything you haven't heard here before: It's time to get that offensive line fixed.

2. Illinois is a good team. Well-coached. But nothing fancy. The Illini look poised to win the Big Ten West and go to Indy as a heavy underdog to Ohio State. Bret Bielema has put together a good formula to win the West in his second year: physical lines on both sides, playmaking quarterback and hard-hitting running back who can hit big ones if you miss. Nebraska wants to get to where Illinois is at. But consider: once the Big Ten does away with divisions, a team like Illinois will likely finish fourth or fifth most years. That's how long the road ahead is for Nebraska.

3. Candidate update: Tough day for Matt Campbell. Iowa State has lost five straight, and at 3-5 must win three out of the last four (including at Oklahoma State and TCU) to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time since 2016. Campbell did a good job building Iowa State but I wonder what Nebraska fans think about Campbell now. Cyclone fans, too.

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