Coming off a 9-4 campaign last year and a dismal 6-7 season two years ago the Huskers do have high hopes for the season ahead especially with recent recruits. But will those recruits and high hopes have any effect on this year’s performance? We sure hope so but not many believe it will.
Let’s put the new uniforms aside and all those new recruits on hold because uniforms do not decide games the players do and many of those recruits will not impact the team until next season. Sure they will help build the moral throughout Nebraska but nothing hurts that more than a poor season. Will this be another one of those poor seasons?
Despite what everyone else is saying I think it will be a great season and here is why.
The defense will make a huge gain this year returning 7 starters and bringing in Bob Diaco from Connecticut. They will be implementing a new 3-4 defense under Coach Diaco which will favor the Huskers run defense in picking up those holes quicker. The secondary will be returning all 4 starters that allowed only 216 yards per game last season and I predict that will be under 200 this season. The only team exposing the secondary will be Ohio State.
The offense is going to be questionable but the group of players we have will come together and rise above all the doubt. We have a good QB in Tanner Lee that has experience and can throw the ball. We have Stanley Morgan as a good go to receiver but we will need to open up the field even more and lee will be able to spread the ball this year if the offensive line gives him time to do so. Our running game won’t be the caliber we are used to seeing but we will have multiple rushers for over 500 yards. Expect both Tre Bryant and Devin Ozigbo to share the ball.
The Huskers have a tough schedule this year but I don’t think it will be much of a step back from last year’s 9-4 season. Sure they have a true test in Eugene this year but if they can come out of there with a win they will host a 4-0 Wisconsin team who will look shaky against Northwestern. Although Wisconsin is projected to win the West I do not think they will. If the Huskers can study game tape and expose Wisconsin’s new defense the Huskers will come out with a very close 4th quarter win.
(No mention of Arkansas State, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, or Illinois? Well those should be gimme games. If we struggle at all during those games then this entire article can be tossed out the window. Also, we need a healthy team. We have very little depth this year when it comes to experience and size that we’ll need to match up with some of those bigger programs).
The next huge game for the Huskers will be their first loss of the season. It won’t come at the margin of last year but Ohio State will prove to be the top team they will face and will hand the Huskers a 3 touchdown loss. The offense will be exposed with too many turnovers and the defense won’t be able to keep up with the attack. It will however be a great game to study and get the coaching staff refocused on what needs to be done. Good thing the next week is a BYE WEEK. They will need to recover.
Purdue will be a tricky game. For some reason the Huskers always have a sure win but somehow manage to allow a team to stick around where it nearly cost them but this time it won’t. Close game but still a victory for the Big Red.
November 4th Northwestern comes to town and this is where things get interesting in the West. Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Northwestern will be fighting it out to play in the conference championship and a lot will depend on this game. Northwestern will bring in a 6-2 record having lost to Wisconsin and then Penn State but then coasted through the other games. NU will have a surprising 7-1 record but turnovers and trick plays will be the difference in this game and Northwestern will leave Lincoln with a 7-2 record making the Big Ten West even more confusing.
In week 11 Nebraska visits Minnesota and lets out a lot of frustration completely dismantling the Gophers and improving to a 8-2 record only to lose another game the following week against Penn State to head into Black Friday against Iowa with a 8-3 record.
Black Friday is when the Huskers decide this season’s fate. Iowa is no team to overlook and every game against them is a trench battle regardless of records. If either team is more beat up than the other they will lose. Between injuries, special teams, and well the weather this is anyone’s game. Iowa will be heading into Lincoln with a 5-6 record. That’s right 5-6. They will lose to Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Although some of their losses will be close games they will still be 5-6 and after Black Friday they will have one of the worst seasons in Kirk Ferentz coaching career finishing with a 5-7 record.
If the huskers head to the Big Ten Conference Championship with a 9-3 record they will face either 11-1 or 12-0 Penn State or Undefeated Ohio State. The game will not be a smooth game for the Huskers but will bring some light on what the Huskers season will look like next year. With a 9-4 record they will get a nice bowl game and may even finish with their first 10 win season in many years.
Check back as I plan on either predicting or reviewing each Husker game this season.