The hype has been hovering over Lincoln since the 2018 season concluded. There’s a real belief that Nebraska will creep its way back into the national spotlight this fall, in Scott Frost’s second season at the helm.
Several media outlets are already projecting Nebraska to be a top 25 team in 2019 and a potential candidate to win the B1G West. You can add preseason college football magazine guru Phil Steele to that growing list. He, too, is anticipating a big year out of the Huskers.
Monday, Steele joined WJOX 94.5 Three Man Front to discuss some of his predictions about the upcoming season. He has a pretty bold projection for the Huskers this fall.
“I think they can win the B1G West and in fact, they’re my pick to (do so),” Steele said in the interview. “The B1G West is a wide open shootout. Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern … all those teams have potential but here’s what I like about Nebraska — last year they opened 0-6, but they were so much better than 0-6.
“Once the Scott Frost system took into effect, they went 4-2 down the stretch. They’ve got a dynamic quarterback in Adrian Martinez and good talent on the offensive line. Now this year is the second year under Scott Frost and they’ve got 13 returning starters. And look at their schedule — they’re playing Maryland on the road, Purdue on the road, Minnesota, Illinois and Colorado (on the road). None of those teams are juggernauts. They get at home Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa and I think that’s the key.”
Nebraska finished last season with a 4-8 record, but lost five of those games by five points or less. After early-season struggles, the Huskers were much more competitive in the second half of the season and started to come to life.
With Martinez in his second season and a top 25 recruiting class coming in, the expectations are sky-high.
Steele doesn’t only think Nebraska will win the West, but he believes it could be the most improved program in college football next season. And, considering the awful start the program had in 2018, it wouldn’t be too surprising if that was the case.
“They’re my No. 1 most improved team in the country,” Steele said. “And last year my No. 1 most improved team was the Florida Gators and they went from 4-8 to 10 wins. I’m looking for Nebraska to go from 4-8 to winning the B1G West.”
The Huskers open the 2019 season against South Alabama on Saturday, Aug. 31. They are currently a 33-point favorite in the opener.