The Nebraska football team's 2019 is not going as most expected. In fact, it's been a bit disastrous thanks to its latest losses to Purdue and Indiana.

Now sitting at 4-5, it seems likely the Huskers are going to miss a bowl game for the third straight season. This development is especially frustrating as people looked at what Scott Frost did in his second season with UCF and expected something similar to Nebraska.

It turns out there might be a better standard to compare the Huskers to. PJ Fleck, as hated as he is by most Cornhuskers' fans, could be the standard on which Scott Frost should be judged.

UCF comparison unfair

As you can see on Huskers.com, Scott Frost struggled in his first season with UCF (6-7) but had a miraculous turnaround in his second year (13-0). That first-year record was even a massive improvement on the year before he arrived when the Knights went 0-12.

That's why Nebraska football fans, and the media, in general, expected a big turnaround this season. It turns out there were a lot of reasons that was unrealistic.

The first point is that UCF's American Athletic Conference is simply not the Big Ten. It's easier to rebuild in a conference like that simply because the level of competition isn't that impressive. Get some speed, and some talent and a team can dominate the conference.

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A different kind of player is needed in order to help turn around a team in the B1G.

There's also the fact that Central Florida was pretty good before bottoming out in 2015. The three seasons before that 0-12 record, UCF went 10-4, 12-1, and 9-4. The terrible season that allowed a coaching opening for Frost to slide into was an anomaly. It's possible he simply had more to work with when he arrived in Orlando.

PJ Fleck the Nebraska football measuring stick?

While UCF might not be a fair comparison, all is not lost. It might just take one more year than people expected. When looking at what Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck has done, Nebraska football might have a mirror it can look into. Like Frost, Fleck came to the Big Ten after a successful run in a mid-major conference.

Like Frost, he had a bad first season at his new school.

In some regards, it was a worse season than Frost had with Nebraska football. PJ Fleck took over a 9-4 Minnesota team and went 5-7 in his first year. His second year, modest improvements were made, and his team went 7-6. The key here is it's not as though the Golden Gophers were a sudden juggernaut.

A Nebraska football team that finished 4-8 was able to dominate Fleck's team. While the Huskers have struggled especially of late, they are just a few plays away from posting six or seven wins so far.

While it's possible they could end up 4-8 or 5-7 again, they're closer to Fleck's second season than they might look at first.

In 2019, Fleck's third season in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, is 9-0 and just upset fourth-ranked Penn State. While that turnaround seems less dramatic after going 7-6, there's very little doubt he could have missed a bowl game for the second straight year last year if things had gone just a bit differently.

With Scott Frost's third Nebraska football season lacing it up in 2020, and a still relatively friendly schedule, it wouldn't be a shock to see a Fleck-like turnaround. If it doesn't happen, then it might be time to worry.

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