The Corn Nation bloggers are putting their Carnac hats on, putting it on the line and predicting the 2009 season. This is long. It's really long, maybe eight posts worth, but we believe in accountability here at Corn Nation, and while most other media outlets give you the bare minimum, listing a record or maybe a MVP award, we're going the distance and giving you a full season's worth of predictions. Even Cobby takes a break from his pre-game preparations to chime in.
Early on, I think Nebraska will try to emphasize Roy Helu at the start of the season. That doesn't mean the passing game will disappear, but rather Nebraska will try to establish the run to set up the passing game. Helu showed in November that if he's healthy, he's one of the best backs in the league. Establishing Helu early on opens up the passing game with the play action pass. I think Nebraska's receivers could be sleepers. Niles Paul certainly had a nice camp by all accounts, and we all know about Nebraska's depth at tight end. So if Menolik Holt or Brandon Kinnie or Antonio Bell can contribute, Nebraska could have a very productive offense as the season evolves.
It all starts up front with Ndamukong Suh. We'll miss Zach Potter, no question about that, but I think the return of Barry Turner will lessen those concerns. And when Bo Pelini says that "people are going to be shocked at what Jared Crick brings to the table", the defensive line could be quite a force. Across the board, I think the linebackers will be an upgrade from last year when you consider that Phillip Dillard, the only returning starter at linebacker, is now a second-teamer. In the secondary, they'll be looking to force turnovers after spending most of the winter mastering their assignments.
Bottom line is that I think the offense will turn out to be good later in the season, and the defense will be very good throughout the season.
Solid passing game should give us a good idea as to the progress of the Husker defense. Likewise, the holes on the defensive side of the ball should allow the Husker offense to gradually warm up.
NU 45, FAU 14
Best of the three Sun Belt opponents Nebraska will face, and might be a good tuneup for Virginia Tech.
NU 31, Arkansas State 13
Consensus top-ten team, but will definitely miss running back Darren Evans. This game could send the Huskers in either direction, as a victory could spark this team into national prominence. A bad loss could remind Husker fans of last year's Missouri game.
VT 20, NU 17
Strike up the band; this game is being played for the money.
NU 56, LL 3
Missouri: On offense, both teams need to replace a quarterback, their top receivers, and a couple of offensive linemen. Both return their best running back, though. On defense, both return all-American candidates in Sean Weatherspoon and Ndamukong Suh. The difference: Nebraska's defense improved down the stretch last season while Missouri's regressed for the most part.
NU 28, Mizzou 24
Nebraska almost won in Lubbock last season. While Tech needs to replace their stars, that's never slowed the Raiders down in the past.
NU 31, Tech 28
Iowa State: The rebuilding begins anew for the 'Clones.
NU 45, ISU 14
This is a scary trap game for the Big Red. Missouri nearly lost in Waco last season. The Huskers could be looking ahead to the next game.
Baylor 30, NU 28
News flash: The Sooners are good. It should be closer than 2008...but that still probably won't be good enough.
Oklahoma 31, NU 28
Kansas could be better at their skill positions on offense...and worse everywhere else. Kansas 35, NU 31
Ron Prince seems to have run the Wildcat program into the ground.
NU 63, K-State 9
Some people think Colorado is a dark horse to challenge in the North. Really? The Buffs nearly lost to Iowa State and Kansas State at home last season. This could be the end of the Dan Hawkins era in Boulder.
NU 35, Colorado 21
JLew's Thoughts on the team
NU has a deep O-line,with five returning linemen totaling 54 starts.
NU has more talent at QB than last year. Lee has a stronger arm than Ganz, Also what have you heard about Lee during fall camp? Anything? That tells us that things are going as planned. I'd be more worried if the coaches and players were talking him up, telling us how great he was going to be. I think Lee will excel at being the man this year. He can play loose knowing that no one breathing down his neck where one mistake could cost him his job.
NU will look to run the ball. Watson has made it a point that you have to run the ball to win championships. Helu is bigger and stronger than last year. I just hope he's durable. Even with an injury, I'm drinking the Kool-aid about Burkhead. I'm also hoping that Okafor or Mendoza can chip in if needed.
The tight ends are awesome. Could there be some three tight ends sets in the offense?
The receivers will be lead by Paul, and then you have to figure that someone out of this group will step up. Also remember last year when everyone was worried about having only Peterson and Swift at WR? That worked out fine.
Watson is an excellent offensive coordinator. Sipple thinks he's in his prime, and he's been rated in the top 5 of all coordinators in college football. I think the offense will be fine.
The front four should help the back seven. A strong pass rush makes everything easier for the defense. Though the LB are young, the talent has improved.
Last season the defense improved throughout the year. Look for them to continue their improvement. When will the Blackshirts be handed out?
NU needs to improve it's kickoff return teams, and continue working on punt returns.
With TO predicting so many close games, I'm happy to have Alex Henery back, 18/21 on field goals, with misses from over 50 yards. You may have heard that he can kick under pressure as well, 4/4 in the Gator Bowl, and a little kick against CU.
Now NU didn't exactly beat a murderer's row last year. The best wins were over Kansas, and Clemson. But they did take Tech to OT, were in the VaTech game till the end and recovered from blow-outs from Missouri and Oklahoma. They looked like a team playing under a new coach. Year one is usually a transition year with new coaches and systems, players adjusting, errr, recovering from the previous coaching staff. I look for the team to take a big jump forward in year 2 of Pelini. The system is in place, the players are comfortable with it, and they had extra practice time at the end of the year.
We'll see how NU handles a strong QB. Opening night game at NU. Nebraska has some incredible home opener night game record. NU wins by 21.
Best of the Sun Belt opponents, though still not chosen for TV! Enjoy a second PPV. NU works out any problems from game 1. Should win going away.
@ Va Tech
Chance for NU to make a statement, and end that stupid losing streak against top 20 teams. But I don't see it happening, first road start for Lee in a hostile Blacksburg. We'll see how Va Tech plays against Alabama, but I think they are too much for NU. Though if NU plays well it should have the team believing that they can play with anyone. The road environment should help for later on as well.
300th sell-out and tickets are hard to get. Call out the back-ups as Nebraska rolls.
Tough game to call. On one hand Missouri replaces the OC, DC, and seven players that went to the NFL last year. Do I believe that Missouri is at a place that they can reload? Do I believe that Pinkel is a good enough coach to replace his coaches, and his QB? Well, no. But NU has not played well in Columbia of late, and it's going to be a late, drunken crowd game.
I think Tech is rebuilding this year. NU wins this at home in a close game.
Hey at least ISU has a coach that wants to be in Ames. NU wins.
Some people are pointed to this as a trap game, with Oklahoma next week. I guess I don't see it that way. Griffin is a dangerous player, but I'm not betting against NU's winning streak against the Bears.
The land thieves return to Nebraska for a November game. I'd really love NU to win this game. Being realistic though I'm not sure how I can validate picking NU to win this one. Though I'd take this win over any other on the schedule.
The match-up of the B12 North favorites. I think that because NU's defense will be better than KU's, and because KU's O-line should be a weakness paired with NU's strength at the D-line, NU wins. It would not surprise me though if NU were to lose this game, and it would not surprise me if this game did not decide the B12 North.
Just a mess right now. They just announced that Alfred E Newman will be the starting QB. I feel like KSU ran back to their old boyfriend because it was comfortable after they dated that jerk Ron Prince. Hey K-State you and Snyder broke up for a reason. Maybe because you hadn't gone to a bowl game with him in a while.
If the past tells us anything it's that this game will be wacky. It'll probably be closer than it should be, and NU will end up winning.
I'm optimistic for this season to say the least. Now injuries can change things in a hurry, but you can say that for any of the teams contenting for the B12 North. For this to be a "successful" season NU has to with the B12 North.
Corn Blight - Predictions for the 2009 Husker Football Season
I see an offense that struggles early in the season - if you'll notice my game predictions, they don't include a lot in the area of point production, even against weaker teams. The coaches will use a lot of players on offense this season, trying to get themselves in a position to make sure they win games while balancing that with getting more guys on the field for experience sake.
Bottom line - a middle of the road Big 12 offense.
Nebraska as a whole might not be back, but this is the year the Blackshirt defense returns intact. They'll generate a lot more turnovers than last season, largely because of a dominant defensive line. The Blackshirt defense will keep them in every game.
Bottom line - second best defense in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma.
- vs Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic comes to Lincoln with a decent offense that will test how far Nebraska's defense has come at the start of Bo Pelini's second season. Unfortunately, their defense can't stop the run. The Huskers establish a ground game early and often.
Nebraska 31, Florida Atlantic 17
- vs Arkansas St. Red Wolves
The Red Wolves are one of the better Sun Belt teams this season. Their balanced offense becomes unbalanced as they're unable to run the ball against the Huskers defensive line.
Nebraska 35, Arkansas State 13, Huskers 2-0
- @ Virginia Tech Hokies
Lane Stadium is a nasty place to play, one helluva place for Zac Lee to make his first road start, or any other young Huskers for that matter. A defensive battle as neither offense can do much against the other's defense - with the defenses providing more points than offense. Unfortunately, Lee makes one too many turnovers.
Virginia Tech 27, Nebraska 23, Huskers 2-1
- vs Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns
It's a good thing that this game is the 300th consecutive sellout, complete with throwback jerseys because those are about the only compelling things about it. The Cajuns lost a lot of key players last year and won't provide much of a challenge.
Nebraska 38, La-Lafayette 10, Huskers 3-1
- @ Missouri Tigers
Finally, Big 12 play arrives. Missouri anticipates a win, but has too many players to replace. This time the Huskers win the turnover battle and the game.
Nebraska 31, Missouri 21, Huskers 4-1
- Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech sucks away from home. Apparently they're too amazed by electricity and the new-fangled whodads that all the other Big 12 teams have to realize they need to be playing football. (Making fun of Lubbock never gets old in my book.)
Nebraska 38, Texas Tech 28, Huskers 5-1
- Iowa St. Cyclones
Iowa State, rebuilding (again).
Nebraska 38, Iowa State 7, Huskers 6-1
- @ Baylor Bears
I don't like this game. I don't have a good feeling about this game. These aren't your same old Baylor Bears, and Robert Griffin can make things happen. It won't be about looking ahead, it'll just be a bad road game for Nebraska.
Baylor 31, Nebraska 28, Huskers 6-2
- Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners simply have too much talent. It won't be the blow-out of last year's game, but the Sooners pull away late.
Oklahoma 35, Nebraska 24, Huskers 6-3
- @ Kansas Jayhawks
With road games at Missouri, Colorado, and Kansas, it's doubtful Nebraska will win all three. Of the three, the Kansas game is the one the Huskers are most likely to lose.
Kansas 33, Nebraska 28, Huskers 6-4
- Kansas St. Wildcats
Kansas State is the perfect cure for a three-game losing streak. The Wildcats won't yet be competitive next season.
Nebraska 45, Kansas St. 17, Huskers 7-4
- @ Colorado Buffaloes
Nebraska and Kansas come into the last week of the season at 5-3 in the Big 12, with Kansas leading the head-to-head tie breaker. Unfortunately, Kansas loses their last game to Missouri, while the Huskers take care of the Buffaloes in Boulder.
Nebraska wins the Big 12 North!
Nebraska 31, Colorado 28, Huskers 8-4
Cobby's Season Predictions
(For the record, I had to wake Cobby up from a cherry kool-aid drunken stupor just to get his predictions out of him.)
I see so many good young players on this team that they're going to be awesome. I think they'll be a better offense than Texas or Oklahoma by the end of the season.
Remember 1995? Suh for Heisman!
The Cornhuskers will win every game they play this season. They'll be Big 12 Champions, and then they'll beat Florida for the national title. Tebow who? Why can't I say that? They'll win because they're the Cornhuskers!
Husker Mike: 8-4
Corn Blight: 8-4