Nebraska dropped out of The Associated Press and USA Today college football polls released Sunday with the loss to UCLA while the top of the rankings remained unchanged after No. 1 Alabama passed its first big test of the season.
The Crimson Tide received all but one of 60 first-place votes from the media panel after beating Texas A&M 49-42. The Aggies are 10th. The rest of the top five is Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State and Stanford.
The 2-1 Huskers, No. 23 last week in the AP and 15th in the USA Today poll, are unranked after the Bruins scored the final 38 points to win 41-21 at Memorial Stadium. It was the biggest blown lead in a home game since 1920, the worst non-conference home loss since 1961 and the sixth double-digit loss in 15 games against BCS-level opponents.
Since Nebraska's record streak of 348 consecutive poll appearances ended in September 2002, there have been only two seasons (2010 and 2011) in which the Huskers have been ranked every week, starting in the preseason.
"We can't worry about what people are saying," head coach Bo Pelini said Saturday. "It's going to be negative. It's going to be negative by the fans, by the media, by everybody. In times like these, all we can do is stick together because the only people who can fix it is us."
Pelini and his staff have quite a repair job waiting for them when they return to practice on Monday. The offense has underperformed in the first three games and the defense looks no better than it did when it surrendered gargantuan numbers in end-of-the-season losses to Wisconsin and Georgia.
Plenty of predictable vitriol was spewed via fan call-in shows and social media. The most eye-catching reaction came from Tommie Frazier, who quarterbacked Nebraska to national championships in 1994 and 1995. Frazier, who was honored at halftime for his selection to the College Football Hall of Fame, took to Twitter Saturday night and called for the firings of the defensive coaches. "If this is what is going to happen for the remainder of the season, count me out," Frazier wrote in an extended tweet.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said his play-calling was too conservative late in the first half and the Bruins were able to get the ball back with enough time to score a touchdown to trim the Huskers' lead to 21-10. "We let the avalanche continue," Beck said. "We helped the avalanche. We might have started it."
UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said the Bruins did nothing different in the second half. The Huskers did, though. They started missing tackles and losing one-on-one battles with receivers. UCLA finished with 504 yards, 298 after halftime.
"They got momentum and we didn't respond well," said defensive coordinator John Papuchis. "To give you a great answer on why we didn't play better, it's really hard at this point."
What confounded Papuchis was how his charges became deflated as UCLA's surge continued. "We were up 21-3 and then 21-10 at half and all of a sudden it's within a couple minutes (left) in the third quarter and we're down 10. They were a little bit shell-shocked from that. No excuses for that to happen."
All the Huskers can do, Papuchis said, is learn from their mistakes and move on even if the fans won't. "The idea that one game, win or lose, is going to dictate your whole season, that's ludicrous. So you go get ready for the next one. That's just the reality."