Saturday Tradition Crystal Ball: Predicting every game for Nebraska in 2018
The return of Scott Frost to coach the Nebraska Cornhuskers has Lincoln in a tizzy, and that’s a good thing. He the favorite son hired to bring them back to national prominence.
This excitement, however, will have to come in bits and pieces. It’s good to be excited now, and it’s good to be excited down the road. This season, however, might be difficult to watch, even after watching last season’s 4-8 disaster.
First off, the cupboard is a little bare. Nebraska’s talent just doesn’t match up with the upper echelon of the Big Ten. Throw in a brutal conference schedule (Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State are the crossover games), and it’s going to be tough.
Frost will do his magic, but just getting to 6-6 and a bowl game will be hard. But better things are down the road, no doubt about it.
“People better get us now,” Frost said at Big Ten media day, “because we’re going to keep getting better.”
2017 Record: 4-8* (3-6 in Big Ten)
And now, on to this year:
Frost deserved national coach of the year honors last year for going 13-0 at Central Florida. He’s home now, and that’s great, but it might take two seasons now to win 13 games. But make no doubt about this, he will turn this program around. Maybe not all the way around to past national championship glory, but they will contend for division titles in a few years.
Frost has been adamant that the QB battle will rage on through the fall. Young guys Tristen Gebbia and Adrian Martinez have talent, but they are very young and may not be quite ready for the rigors of Big Ten play. It’s a wait-and-see thing. “The number one trait that a quarterback in our offense has to have is he has to be a fast blinker; he has to be able to process information really quickly and be a step ahead of the game,” Frost said. “All the guys that we’ve had that have excelled have had that trait.”
Strengths & weaknesses
The best position group might be the wide receivers, one with plenty of talent and depth. Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman can play, and Tyjon Lindsey is ready to finally make a splash, especially in this fast-paced offense. “Some of the pieces that were in place particularly on offense I think fit us pretty well. You look at the receiver group and Stanley Morgan and JD [Spielman] and Tyjon Lindsey, those are the type of guys we would recruit,” Frost said. Nebraska’s defense really struggled a year ago, giving up 54 points or more in each of the final three losses. There are still issues, especially in the secondary, and we won’t know if they’ve gotten any better until the games start.
Week 1: vs. Akron (W)
Welcome home, Scott Frost, who gets his 14th win in a row — and first at Nebraska.
Week 2: vs. Colorado (W)
Finding six wins to get to a bowl game starts right here against the Buffs. Nebraska is better, but this will be a close game that the Cornhuskers can’t let slip away.
Week 3: vs. Troy (W)
A 3-0 start would be nice, especially with what’s down the road. Having all three nonconference games at home is a plus for a new coaching staff.
Week 4: at Michigan (L)
The Big Ten crossover schedule hasn’t been kind to the Cornhuskers this season, and all three might be big losses. It starts here, where Michigan’s new-look offense could carve Nebraska apart.
Week 5: vs. Purdue (L)
In the middle of the season, this is the game that actually will determine Nebraska’s bowl fate. They need to win it to get it, but that’s going to be tough. Purdue is getting better, and the Boilermakers have had Nebraska’s number in the past.
Week 6: at Wisconsin (L)
The Badgers are the best team in the Big Ten West, and this might be a beatdown. Nebraska’s defense just doesn’t have the weapons.
Week 7: at Northwestern (L)
This will be a fight, but wins on the road are hard to get with young quarterbacks.
Week 9: vs. Minnesota (W)
Winning at home, that’s another matter. The Gophers get handled, but not by much.
Week : Bye
Week 10: at Ohio State (L)
Another long day here will all of Ohio State’s weapons. It could get ugly.
Week 11: Illinois (W)
Illinois sits at the bottom of the barrel in the Big Ten West, so this is an easy win at home.
Week 12: vs. Michigan State (L)
Michigan State is tough on both sides of the ball. This is a tough one, even at home.
Week 13: at Iowa (L)
When Frost says you better get them now, you can bet he’s talking about Iowa. The Hawkeyes’ edge on the Huskers might be disappearing soon.
2018 Projection: 5-7 (2-7 in Big Ten)
Final Standings: 5th in Big Ten West
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