There isn't much talk among Nebraska's players about the challenge in front of them now that the calendar has flipped to 2019.
That's no surprise for a veteran team. The biggest game is always the next one, especially for a group with the expectations of the Huskers.
"The Big Ten is crazy. It's really strong this year. And we're in a good position to have some success, so we've got to attack every day," senior forward Isaac Copeland said before NU left for Maryland. "Every game is important from here on out. Every game matters, and we've got to get off to a great, aggressive start."
No. 24-ranked Nebraska (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) gets its first chance to impress Wednesday. The Huskers take on Maryland (10-3, 1-1) in College Park at 5:30 p.m. The game will be televised on BTN.
The contest is the beginning of a five-game gantlet to reopen conference play — road games at Maryland and No. 25 Iowa, a home contest against Penn State, a road game at No. 21 Indiana, and a home game against No. 8 Michigan State.
"I would say watching their actions in practice, you can see it's about to get real," NU coach Tim Miles said. "And I think we have a veteran team, so I expect them to act accordingly."
Each of the next five games, save for the Penn State matchup, is projected as a virtual coin flip by most metrics. And depending on whose numbers you prefer, the Huskers are projected to be on the wrong side of the odds in each of the other four matchups.
A look at the history between Nebraska and Maryland suggests another nail-biter. The Huskers have won the last two in the series, by two points two years ago on the road and by four last year in Lincoln when James Palmer scored 24 points in the second half.
Of the six games between the teams, five have been decided by five points or less, and the other was an 11-point game.
"We've played them really tight when they were nationally ranked and stuff like that," Miles said of NU"s recent success in the series. "I would hope it’s a really good game and a lot of fun to watch, but there’s no comfort in anything."
In fact, taking the approach of a team that has yet to prove anything could serve the Huskers well, according to Copeland.
"We’ve got to take that same underdog mentality we had last year and shock some people this year as well, even though we have some higher expectations," Copeland said. "I don’t think we’re a surprise to anybody anymore, especially as opposed to last year when we were a brand new team, really, with all the transfers. This year, it's pretty much the same crew coming back minus a couple guys."
While Wednesday's game likely won't define Nebraska's season, it can perhaps serve as a springboard to bigger accomplishments
"It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to keep the big picture in perspective and go out there and do your best every night," Miles said. "I want to manage this team and allow us to get a little better every night out, make sure we’re healthy, and give us that opportunity to win every time out.
"I think we can do that, we’ve done it so far, and we need continue to do it."