Blogpolls have been coming out across the blogosphere (been a while since I used that phrase... ugh), and while most have Nebraska ranked around the top ten, there was one that caught my eye, and that was Spencer Hall's ballot at Every Day Should Be Saturday.
Hall didn't rank Nebraska.
For instance, we don't have Nebraska on there because in many ways last year they were Iowa with a.) a mutant on the defensive line, and b.) a worse offense than the Hawkeyes. Take away mutant, return same shitty offense, and you end up unranked.
Forget that Hall has Nebraska unranked - we all know that preseason polls don't mean anything (though it still hurts to be so bluntly rejected) - it's apparent that Hall doesn't think Nebraska will be that good, so I thought I'd ask him for a deeper explanation than what he's given above (even though his thoughts are pretty clear).
After the jump is a Q&A session with Hall. It's not for those who like things sugar-coated, but I think you can handle it.
Q: I think most Nebraska fans would accept the idea that Ndamukong Suh was good enough to be branded a "mutant", but, given Bo Pelini's status as a defensive master, isn't there a possibility that there's another mutant defensive lineman in the works?
Every Nebraska fan will be happy to wax poetic about Suh's season last year, but few will acknowledge just how big a hole losing the best defensive lineman in college football will be, even with Jared Crick lining up to replace him. I've seen a Pelini defense without its key defensive tackle in the form of Glenn Dorsey and the 2007 LSU defense, and they are very different animals with greatly varying results on defense. They'll have to blitz more to get pressure, and that leaves bigger holes, and thus higher risk/reward than you saw last year.
The real factor that scares the daylights out of me re: Nebraska is their offense, though, specifically the case of Zac Lee. If they get behind in any of their games it will be on Lee to bail them out, and if the thought of that comforts you then you ride with the devil and brush your teeth with lit sparklers. I admire you for it, but I'm not following you on that ledge.
Q: I'll grant you that Nebraska's offense last season was horrid, but do you really expect us to be horrid again since we have a quarterback who's gone through a season of starts, a clear set of starters at receiver, at least two good running backs, and enough offensive linemen to get through the season? As horrid as last year?
Not as horrible as last year, but you're also not going to be the number one ranked defense, either. The losses don't quite offset each other here (at least not in my highly speculative non-ranking of them. Emphasis on HIGHLY SPECULATIVE.)
Other polls have Nebraska highly ranked - are we to take it that you:
1. are a madman
2. more insightful than most college football pundits
3. going for shock value
Not at all. If I want to do that, I'll photoshop Bo Pelini's head on Juila Stiles's body and have him dance with an equally photoshopped Gary Pinkel on a "Save the Last Dance" poster.
4. were clearly pissed at having to watch Nebraska's offense last season and found it so utterly non-offensive you're taking it out on us at the beginning of this season
Probably the best guess of all of these.
5. have been bought out by Texas
There is no new flossy Caddy in the driveway, so no.
Q: The Huskers play in the Big 12 North. Do you see another team winning the North, or do you believe that even with winning the North the Huskers deserve to be unranked at the end of the season?
No, certainly not. If the win the Big 12 North they deserve to be ranked and ranked well. I don't have them on there because in my mind they've got some serious questions in terms of replacing a key cog on their defense and demonstrating some competence on offense.
And do remember, it is a preseason ranking and nothing more. I'll happily put them in the polls that actually count, the ones based on how teams actually play during the season. I'm particularly interested in the Washington game since the Huskies will be a nice stress test for the revamped Husker defense early in their schedule.
Q: Care to offer any predictions on Nebraska's win-loss record this season?
Somewhere around eight wins, maybe nine. Rank guessing, but that's where we are eight days out from actual football.