If you missed our roundtable yesterday talking about the '14 season for the Nebraska Cornhuskers so far, check it out here.
Today, with another gameweek starting tomorrow, we talk about the future of the schedule for Nebraska, as well as the end result for a bowl game and should the Huskers make the Big Ten Title game.. and if they don't.
What is the biggest game between this week and the Big Ten Championship for Nebraska?
Cobcast Ryan: Wisky and Iowa are tied for me. They are both revenge games on the road. It means something to beat someone in their house in front of their fans. then B1G championship game is at stake and I WANT A REMATCH!
Ranchbabe: This is going to sound rather cliche, but every single game is big. We are a good enough team that we should win every one on our schedule. We aren’t so good that we can win without maximum effort and planning (OK, except maybe Purdue). The hardest ones could be any/all of the road games. Will the injuries continue to add up? Will we get some answers on the O-line?
David: Didn’t think I’d say this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s Northwestern. They’ve seemingly righted the ship and that defense is playing well. Crazy stuff just happens when the NU’s get together. If the Huskers can survive that next week, that’ll be big. Wisconsin, Iowa and even Minnesota present challenges for the Huskers, but that Northwestern game looks a lot bigger now than I thought it would be, especially if they beat Minnesota this weekend.
Jon: It’s the game that this team doesn’t give a damn about. Until they cure their consistency issues, every game will be an issue. It’s like they start believing their own press after a win and think they’ve accomplished something. Jason Peter was correct when he said that this team doesn’t hold each other accountable (looking at you, offensive linemen), and until they do, they’ll never achieve what they can.
Paul: I think the West semi-final will come down to Iowa and Nebraska. Northwestern is out of the running, and Wisconsin looks like a shadow of what it used to be. If Nebraska can take care of business against Minnesota, and get past Penn State it will get to Iowa City 10-1.
Brian: I think every road game is one that Nebraska can drop, but don’t forget Senior Day vs. Minnesota. They just took down a fairly warm Northwestern team, and they have the formula to frustrate the Huskers. I do fully expect to lose at least one road game, however. That schedule has too many snakes. Yes, Wisconsin can be had and Iowa isn’t great. That all being said, you trust Nebraska in Camp Randall and Iowa City? Last time they visited Iowa City, Nebraska didn’t really tear it up offensively.
What one strength will give Nebraska a chance in every game for the rest of the schedule?
Cobcast Ryan: Abdullah and Westerkamps ability to catch anything he can touch.
Ranchbabe: Randy Gregory and friends. We are not playing any world-beater offenses. If our defense can keep us in games, we can survive some hiccups on the offense. I know quite a few of you will disagree with me, but our offensive coordinator took a step forward in the MSU game. We were getting stonewalled badly, but in the 3rd quarter you could see him starting to set some things up. Then a good play happened, then a couple in a row. By the fourth quarter, an entire series. It was too little, too late, but he made adjustments and gave these kids some confidence in the event of a rematch. We have seen this team fight back, but never pull out of a face-plant during a blowout. Progress?
Also--something, something, Ameer Abdullah, something something.
David: Basically what those guys said. The Huskers will have the best player on the field at all times (barring injury, of course). That’s typically a good position to be in.
Jon: The fact that they have an incredibly high upside. Healthy, playing together, I believe the 2014 Huskers can beat anyone in the nation. The offense can be incredible, and so can the defense. They have game-changing playmakers on both sides of the ball (Ameer Abdullah, Randy Gregory).
Paul: Softball question? Abdullah and Gregory are arguably the best at their position in the country. And Pierson-El has the instincts and wheels to finally give Nebraska a legit threat as a returner.
Brian: IF, and it’s a big IF, the team can stay relatively healthy through the rest of the regular season, they can hang with anyone. That being said, Nebraska needs to build depth in both the D backfield and at WR. Hopefully the bye week gave them chances to build a little bit in both.
What one weakness will give Nebraska issues in every game for the rest of the schedule?
Ranchbabe: I don’t think the issues exposed on the O-line or Tommy’s passing decisions can be overhauled in-season. They can be tweaked, schemed around and hopefully shored up, but not overhauled. I think the talent is there, but it will take some time.
David: Injuries. The depth chart has taken a big enough hit that any other significant injuries could expose some depth issues at a number of spots.
Jon: Again, it’s inconsistency. It is very simply their ability to execute and show up to play every play every game.
Paul: The derp factor can’t be ignored. I don’t know if it will be the offensive line that falls back on the unique ‘no block’ scheme, a QB who forgets what color Nebraska is wearing that day, or linebackers who develop an aversion to touching, Nebraska can be counted on to derp at least once per season.
Brian: The Linebackers. Plain and simple, Nebraska needs this group to step up to make life easier for their D. The 2 teams that flat out abused this group last year are on the schedule still, and do you think that Wisconsin won’t pull the B1GCG voodoo and try to mess things up with the jet sweep?
Can Nebraska make Indianapolis still and win the Big Ten Championship? Why?
Ranchbabe: Of course they can. Why? Have you seen our schedule? Every team we play is good, but beatable (OK, except Purdue) and they all have a gaping hole somewhere. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over our QB, he is currently the best in the West.
Also--something, something, Ameer Abdullah, something something.
David: Yep. They’ll likely be favored or pick ‘em in every game they play the rest of the way. And in a one game setting, likely vs. MSU or OSU, you never know. Crazy things can happen. If it’s Sparty, you know what they say about beating the same team twice in a season, right?
Jon: Easily. Our side of the conference is a mess. There is absolutely no reason other than self-destruction that they don’t get to Indy.
Paul: I expect it. And with Purdue showing us how to run on Sparty, I think we will win.
Brian: That’s the bare bones minimum for Nebraska to have success this year. If the Huskers don’t make Indy, there’s a problem somewhere. So, yes, I expect to be watching Nebraska play the winner of the East in Lucas Oil Stadium.
What bowl game do you expect Nebraska to play in this coming December/January?
Ranchbabe: I have no idea. IF we get to Indy and win, then a playoff spot is in the mix. IF we get to Indy and lose (that was my preseason prediction), I suppose we end up somewhere around the Cap One bowl. If we dont’ get to Indy, hello Holiday Bowl! Oh how we missed ‘ye.
David: If they can find a way to win the Big Ten, I think they find themselves in Dallas and the Cotton Bowl in one of those overflow BCS-ish games since the Rose Bowl isn’t an option this year. If they don’t, I think they go to the Outback or Holiday Bowl. That’ll get the masses fired up!
Jon: I don’t really care what bowl game it is. I care about the opponent we play. I hope we can a SEC team, or a high-quality opponent no matter where it is.
Paul: Lose in Indy and it’s probably the Capitol One or Outback Bowl. Win in Indy (at 11-1) and there’s an outside shot at a playoff spot.
Brian: I’m with David hoping that they make the Cotton Bowl in ARLINGTON NOT DALLAS DAMNIT. Only because the game is 10 minutes from me and it’s a noon kick. Also, think of it in recruiting terms that means Nebraska will be able to showcase the program and reach that vast wealth of DFW and area schools.
If Nebraska doesn’t make Indy or win the Big Ten, are we going to have to deal with "Will Bo Pelini be fired" again?
Ranchbabe: Trick question. Even if Bo wins the Big Ten, there will be people who want to fire him because we should have won the whole shooting match because everyone sucks this year and if we can’t win the Nashnul Champeenship in 2014, we never will. Imma hang up and lissen.
David: Depends. If they go 5-1 and lose a close game to Wisconsin, perhaps, and lose a tiebreaker in the process, I don’t think the sharks will be circling that much. Or at least, I don’t think they should be. If he ends up going, say 3-3 down the stretch, you better believe it’ll happen. I don’t think whether or not they get to Indy should be the deciding factor. There are way too many variables at play to make a blanket statement like that.
And rightfully so. This is his best team yet, this conference other than Michigan State and maybe Ohio State is a mess. There is no reason that Nebraska can win their division and get into the championship game.
He won’t be fired, though. His record will be too good, but the offseason questions of "What else do you need?" will be asked, and rightfully so.
Paul: It would take a serious decline in our play and potential to not arrive in Indy. The only way I could see that happening is if Iowa were 10-1 for the Nebraska game as well and beat us. The Hawkeyes’ schedule between now and then is *ahem* not particularly daunting, (@Maryland, NwU, @Minny, @Illinois, and Wiscy) so a matchup of 1-loss teams is more than possible. If that keeps NU out of the conference championship game I don’t think there will be calls for Pelini’s job.
Brian: The problem I have with Jon’s answer (which I agree with for the most part) is that Bo Pelini has been given EVERYTHING he could possibly ask for and need to be successful. The money is there for assistants, the facilities are the best they can make, fan and program support is at a all time high… what else does he need? It’s seven years, he’s not a "new" HC anymore. His staff isn’t "learning" anymore. He’s not "fixing Bill Callahan’s destruction" anymore.
Like I have said before and again, if it’s just wins/losses, Bo Pelini has nothing to worry about in terms of losing his job. But you better believe there will be some sort of "drama" that will come about someway, justified or not, if he doesn’t make Indy.