ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nebraska coach Scott Frost believes the Cornhuskers have reached the bottom.
Frost told his players in the locker room at Michigan Stadium that things can't get any worse, and their 56-10 loss to No. 19 Michigan could serve as a "watershed moment" for the program in its first year with a new coaching staff.
The loss dropped the Cornhuskers to 0-3, the school's worst start in football since 1945. The 39-0 hole they found themselves in at the end of the second quarter was the largest halftime deficit the team had faced in its proud, post-World War II history.
"I told them I honestly believe this is going to be the bottom right here," Frost said. "I don't know how many times I've been in a game like that, but we got beat in every phase. We're really going to find out who loves football and who loves each other."
Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos agrees.
"I have faith in Scott and continue to," Moos told HuskerOnline.com after Saturday's game. "I knew it wasn't going to happen overnight. We knew we wanted to build it the right way, on a solid foundation and something that could be sustainable.
"... I think there's six wins out there, maybe more."
Frost's return to his home state and the football program with which he once won a share of a national title as a player was among college football's most celebrated coaching hires this offseason. He said upon his arrival that there was a long list of problems that would need to be fixed before Nebraska competed for championships again.
He said his team executed poorly against Michigan and physically got "whipped." He was happy, though, that the players competed throughout the lopsided game. He believes it's inevitable that some members of the team will stop believing or working to get better, but losing those players will make the team stronger in the long run.
"The only ones we would lose are the ones we never really had," Frost said. "... The guys we're going to actually win with and win championships with would never do that."
Moos echoed his coach's sentiments.
"You've got to be patient," Moos said. "We've got a big hole to dig out of. It's a transition time. Players are learning a new offense, new defensive scheme. The good news is that we have a coaching staff that doesn't have to be taught.
"It's tough to have that snowball rolling the other direction, and I'm very confident that we have a staff that can stop that and get back and get some wins here this year."
Frost said he doesn't think the problems are any bigger or more insurmountable than when he arrived. He said he still believes success will come.
"We're not ready to beat a team like this yet, but the key word to me is 'yet,'" Frost said. "I know where it's going. It certainly isn't happening as quickly as I would like, but I'm kind of excited because it's not going to get worse than this. It's only up from here."
Nebraska's upperclassmen who spoke to reporters after the game shared their coach's opinion about the season and the future at Nebraska. They said it was the responsibility of the leaders on the field to make sure their year takes a turn for the better.
Offensive lineman Jerald Foster, a team captain, compared Saturday's loss to feet hitting the bottom of a swimming pool. Now they can "push off," he said, and it won't get lower than where they stand now.
"We have a coaching staff and players that aren't going to allow it. That's it," Foster said. "Look me in the eyes, and I hope you can see that I'm not going to let it get any worse than this."
Nebraska hosts Purdue (1-3) next week at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The Boilermakers beat previously undefeated Boston College to get their first victory of the year on Saturday.