After the disarray of the 1918 season, 1919 looked like it could be defined as the ultimate rebuilding year, for all college teams. Nebraska's previous coach, hurriedly installed last year as an interim leader in the upheaveal, was now replaced with the program's 15th leader in 29 years, continuing a pattern of frequent turnover at the top. The new coach was the result of a new athletic director, who also opted to withdraw Nebraska from the Missouri Valley conference, ending 13 years of league affiliation and resulting in the Cornhusker football program operating as an independent for the first time since 1906. The schedule for 1919 was a demanding one, with resurgent Iowa, Notre Dame, Minnesota and Syracuse looming on the horizon, the result of planning by the leadership to pit the Cornhuskers against the best challengers available.
Nebraska stumbled in their season opener, just three weeks after beginning practice, when one of the best Iowa teams to date trounced the Cornhuskers in Iowa City. Nebraska's captain left the game early because of injury, and the team subsequently began to crumble, committing errors and losing momentum. Despite the win over Nebraska, the Hawkeyes still trailed in the series 6-12-3.
For only the third time in program history, Nebraska dropped three games in a row with the Defeat delivered by Notre dame. Both previous 3-loss events occurred in the 1899 season. George Gipp shined in his third appearance against Nebraska, never allowing the Cornhuskers closer than 1 point from the Notre Dame score at halftime before pulling away. Knute Rockne led his Notre Dame squad to victory despite the best laid plans of Nebraska coach Schulte to scheme around the larger Notre Dame players.
Minnesota had managed to avoid the Cornhuskers for eight years, ever since their nine-game winning streak had been snapped by the 1913 Nebraska squad. The defenses kept the scoreboard mostly quiet, but Minnesota found their way through first. Having missed the kick after, the Gophers were given a scare later on when the Cornhuskers also found the end zone, but Nebraska also failed to convert. Eventually time ran out on the 6-6 tie, though the Cornhuskers left many points on the field due to miscues and fumbles, thus giving a lucky break to Minnesota who escaped the meeting with a draw instead of a loss, though the Gophers still held a commanding lead in the series, 10-2-2.
The Cornhusker squad struggled to find heart and momentum after the disappointing results of the first three games, still without a win at the end of October. As a result, Nebraska came out flat against Oklahoma, allowing the Sooners to stay in the game and hold the Cornhuskers from getting much done. The outcome was a tie, the second of the season, leaving the spirit of the Nebraska squad near collapse with the 0-2-2 season to date. This was only the second time Oklahoma and Nebraska had met on the field, with Nebraska still barely ahead 1-0-1 all time.
The loss to Iowa State as Nebraska returned to Lincoln was the darkest day in the 1919 schedule. Unable to come up with any points at all on their own home field, The players and fans of the Cornhuskers and the Cyclones were all surprised that Iowa State would escape the Cornhuskers with just 3 points affording them the win. Nebraska had now gone five games without a win, tying the program's all-time winless mark set in 1899. Iowa State still was under Nebraska's thumb in their overall series, lagging 4-12-1.
With five starters out and the string of disappointment behind them, the Nebraska football squad did not have high hopes when traveling to Columbia. Much to the surprise of the team and the fans, however, the Cornhusker machine began to function again, and Nebraska managed to scratch out a 12-5 finish to secure the season's first victory, moving the Cornhuskers farther up in the series to 12-3.
With new-found faith and purpose, Nebraska came together to dominate the Kansas team for the 1919 homecoming game in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers succeeded in controlling nearly every aspect of the game on their way to the win and advancing their series lead to 17-9. Kansas coach Leon McCarty later said of the Cornhuskers: "Nebraska was the best drilled team I ever saw. Schulte has certainly produced a winner." The season's fortunes seemed entirely reversed from just a few weeks prior.
Nebraska's turnaround from the sad season start was completed in glory as the Cornhuskers defeated Eastern champion Syracuse on Thanksgiving to close the season. The poor weather conditions and snow-covered field were blamed for the low scoring, but the game was not often in doubt as the plays from scrimmage were on the Syracuse side of the field for almost all of the game. The win capped an emotional season and avenged the Nebraska loss from the only other meeting between these teams in 1917.
Coach Schulte's first season, which started under so much uncertainty before diving into the abyss, turned around and ended on a surprisingly high note of optimism after the three emotional wins were secured to close the season. For the long-term picture, however, the 3-3-2 (.500) regular season hurt the program's record, dropping it to 166-54-12 (.741), the biggest percentage drop since the 6-4-0 season of 1906. With the rebuilding now out of the way, eyes turned to the hoped-for renewal expected in 1920.