Nebraska Football: Distractions Must Stop for Huskers to Have Chance in Big Ten

Erin Sorensen@erinsorensenContributor IOctober 4, 2013

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 29: Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini talks with his defense during their game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 30-27. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Nebraska football team needs to focus.

Distractions are a common entity in the college football landscape. They come with the territory. However, head coach Bo Pelini and his team need to eliminate distractions heading into Big Ten play, especially if they wish to escape it successfully.

Looking back on it, September was a rough month for Nebraska.

Nebraska's loss to UCLA created a major stir among fans. Former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier's postgame remarks escalated fans' emotions. Pelini's response only made it worse.

From there, Pelini dealt with an audio-tape leak, quarterback Taylor Martinez was injured, and backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong created buzz in Martinez's absence.

With September finally gone, October and conference play have arrived.

While the Legends Division is currently a mess, Nebraska cannot be guaranteed a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. The Huskers still plan to get there, though.

With that goal in mind, Pelini and his team must play above the distractions. That mentality can often be mistaken for Pelini's famous "us-against-the-world" mantra, but it is important to focus. That may be easier said than done, though.

After Thursday's practice, Pelini confirmed Martinez will not play against Illinois, via CBS Sports. Armstrong will start in his place.

If Armstrong performs well, many Nebraska fans will call for a quarterback controversy.

Regardless, Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck still say Martinez is the guy, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. He will be back on the field once his turf toe is healed.

Pelini will receive some scrutiny for that decision. The media attention around his decision will also be tough to ignore.

Nebraska fans are vocal. Message boards are filled with conversations surrounding what the Huskers should do on just about any topic. Fans have opinions on Pelini's future, the Blackshirts and everything in between.

When you coach or play for Nebraska, it comes with the job. The fans are one of the best parts about Nebraska football, after all. The loyalty is second to none.

With that loyalty comes a lot of opinions, though. When the going gets tough, those opinions can be critical. That can be difficult for any team to ignore.

However, Pelini and his team must find a way to avoid it.

If distractions continue to plague Nebraska, the Big Ten will take advantage of that. Distracted play tends to lead to mistakes. Those mistakes are exactly what teams like Illinois, Northwestern and Iowa will wait for.

Nebraska must not let that happen.

The Nebraska football team is no stranger to distractions. Heading into their second season in the Big Ten, those distractions were highlighted by Sports Illustrated.

One quote from that Sports Illustrated piece stands out more than any other. In the last paragraph, George Schroeder sums it up best by saying, "Just focusing on football might help."

That is exactly what the Huskers must do. Focus on football.

Everything else is just a distraction.