Nebraska coach Mike Riley heads into Memorial Stadium two hours before Saturday's game against Rutgers. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

It was business as usual for Nebraska coach Mike Riley in the hours before the Cornhuskers' Big Ten opener against Rutgers.

Riley got off the team bus and was greeted by well-wishers as he headed into Memorial Stadium, same as every home game. 

What's changed is the tenor of the 2017 season. Nebraska is coming off a 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois of the Mid-American Conference, a defeat that dropped the Huskers to 1-2 for the second time in three years under Riley.

On Thursday, athletic director Shawn Eichorst was fired, with the school's top administrators saying Nebraska's programs (mainly football) need to be more competitive.

Given what has happened, fans are wary of a Rutgers team that has lost 14 consecutive Big Ten games. The Huskers are 11-point favorites.

"We're just continuing to do our job and building this team to the highest level we can daily so we can do better on the weekends. We need to have better weekends," Riley said after Eichorst's firing.

The message: stay the course.

"Whatever is swirling out there, it always swirles one way or the other, and you have to maintain being steady because that's what your kids need to know, who you're going to be every day when you come."