What’s your overall feeling about the team & program as the season kicks off next week?
Jon: Not a clue. I have the feeling that this won’t be another four-loss season, though, it’s either going to be 10-2 or 11-1 or 7-5. Either way the state will go insane persecuting the BoBelievers or BoHaters, housing prices will bottom out in Omaha and a bunch of us will move back there and turn it into Silicon Valley Midwest, but only after years of civil unrest.
In other words, I go into this season in a state of delirium.
Cheeseandcorn: I know it can’t continue forever, but man, this feels a heck of a lot like yet another four-loss season. Overall, I think this team is better than the last few the Huskers have put out, but they’ve also gotten extremely lucky with those teams, and that can’t go on forever. So we may have a better team that puts up worse results, if that makes sense.
Ranchbabe: When Bo introduces our ‘new’ quarterback Maylor Tartinez, I will feel a whole lot better. This whole season will go as our quarterback play goes. I think we have talent (and Ameer Abdullah), but unless one of the QBs makes a big jump, we will be on the edge of our seats again. Hang on Husker fans….
Paul - I spent a lot of time during the offseason fine tuning my model algorithm to better account for things like home field advantage and games against FCS opponents. As an analyst, I’m pretty happy with the results, as they do a good job mirroring the real results from 2012 and 2013. As a Husker fan, I’m not particularly thrilled with how the very early numbers shake out. It looks like another 8-win (not considering a CCG or a bowl game) for the Huskers. Early on, my predictions for the Huskers look like this:
The Team P(win) column is the probability of Nebraska winning. The Team line is the model’s predicted betting line.
Nebraska is an overwhelming favorite in only one game, and is a significant favorite in three others. (I don’t like the results for the FAU prediction. I think that’s one of those weirdo model results that you have to take with rest, even though you know it’s crazy.)
Overall, the P(win) sum to 7.1 expected wins. After the first two weeks when Nebraska beats FAU and McNeese State, that will climb to about 8.0 expected wins, which is what I’m comfortable expecting for the Huskers this year.
Cobcast Ryan: They control their destiny. I don’t think any Pelini team has had a lack of talent but sometimes a lack of mental toughness and "want to". Two potential 1st rounders, a Heisman hopeful, and an offense that minus turnovers took it to Michigan State and Georgia last year. They SHOULD do well. They SHOULD win the B1G. They COULD lose 5 or 6 games. I don’t have any graphs to back up my opinion.
Husker Mike: We’ve heard the "Four Loss" mantra over and over and over again. And this year, I think Nebraska breaks out of it. There is no consistent theme to Nebraska’s 4 loss seasons, so from my perspective, it’s simply lazy to predict 4 losses again in 2014.
Why do I say that? 2008 was a transition year. 2009 had a premier defense and a woeful offense. 2010 had a dynamic offense the first two months of the season, then reverted back to 2009 form after Martinez’s ankle injury. 2011 had the first signs of defensive breakdowns and a rough transition to a new conference. (11 new opponents.) 2012 saw the defense fall apart as Pelini elected to redshirt some talented freshman and tried to muddle through as best he could. 2013 saw the defense improve during the season, but losing an all-conference quarterback and all-American offensive lineman took it’s toll. At some point, it’s all going to start aligning, and my vibe is that it’s happening in 2014.
Brian: We’re all rested. This is the most rested we’ve all been for a season to start. We’re having fun. This is fun, right?
To be honest, I want something different to happen this season. I want 11 wins. I want us in the mix for the Playoff. I’m tired of 4 losses no matter what, but at the same time… when is it going to happen? I mean, yes, Bo Pelini won the offseason. He won it before but not as well, and he started to win it the previous offseason. Where’s the trophy for that? There’s a Gator Bowl trophy, sure, and that is more than there was the previous 3 seasons. But, damnit, patience can only take you so long. Bo has had everything he’s needed to succeed.
What is going to be the biggest surprise this season for Nebraska?
Jon: Randy Gregory has 32 sacks, wins the Heisman Trophy along with every other possible award, then goes on to be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. He choses to play soccer, getting a shot in the EPL, then later goes on to lead the US Men’s Soccer team on to their first World Cup title.
Cheeseandcorn: Jordan Westerkamp is going to emerge as a real offensive weapon. He’ll catch the most balls on the team and develop a reputation for bailing the Huskers out in big spots.
Ranchbabe: Joe Ganz turns out to be a QB whisperer and Armstrong/Stanton/Fyfe give opposing DCs nightmares. We have 3 QBs and 3 RBs on the field at all times in a new offensive craze that sweeps the country..
Cobcast Ryan: The fumble ration will be +25
Husker Mike: Nebraska is going to figure out how to return a punt.
Brian: Personally? The Front 7 on Defense is going to be fantastic as long as they all stay healthy. Joe Keels is gonna be good, the rotation in the DT spot will help, and the Linebackers will be better with Courtney Love and an improved Banderas.
What is going to be the biggest disappointment this season for Nebraska?
Jon: Other than Gregory choosing to play soccer, it has to be Tommy Armstrong’s season-ending injury in game three. Ryker Fyfe leads the team to glory by being the best game manager since the last great game-managing Husker quarterback.
Cheeseandcorn: I don’t think Gregory’s going to be a disappointment per se, but he’s not going to put up the numbers everyone’s expecting him to. The constant double (and potentially triple) teams are going to take a lot out of him, even though they open up a lot of room for the rest of the D-line to wreak havoc.
Ranchbabe: If Cheeseandcorn is correct, disappointment leads to a huge 2015 as Gregory decides to stay at NU for his senior year and wins the Heisman that Suh should have gotten. 2014 prediction? Half the fan base is disappointed Bo isn’t fired when we lose another conference championship game.
Paul - Losing at Fresno State.
Cobcast Ryan: Going undefeated all the way to Iowa and losing to the Hawkeyes. AND THEY STILL WON’T BE OUR RIVAL.
Husker Mike: Tommy Armstrong probably won’t top a 55% completion percentage.
Brian: I will say it…. Strength and Conditioning. Nebraska has barely gone very hard in the Preseason camp. They are preaching things like shorter practices and going easy on Thursday and hard on Friday to amass Chip Kelly’s thoughts. That’s fine, but then I worry that, lets say we get a long, hard game vs. a Michigan St or even a Northwestern that goes 2 Overtimes. How much endurance will this team have for a game like that? Fresh legs during the season, alright I buy that. Maybe it’s a worry that will never materialize. And I applaud Bo for trying something different. However, it just worries me because it’s such a new thing for Nebraska’s program.
Guarantee a victory for Nebraska that people think is a loss:
Jon: Wisconsin. Badger fans are all too drunk to realize there’s a game, selling their tickets to Nebraska fans as they pass out before the game and the stadium turns into a home game for the Huskers!!!!
Cheeseandcorn: I don’t know that people think the Fresno State game is a loss, but I do think the Huskers will escape from that one. The late kickoff and hostile road environment are scary, but Fresno isn’t that good - probably closer to Northwestern and Minnesota in quality than Iowa and Michigan State.
Ranchbabe: Wisconsin attempts to trade for Ryker Fyfe. When that fails, they unveil a no-QB offense. Their RBs are exhausted by the fourth quarter and the center hands the ball to Randy Gregory and says "just take it".
Paul - I can’t guarantee any of the predicted losses as wins. It think our best shot for a win in a game we’re expected to lose is Iowa. I don’t see us beating Sparty or Wisconsin this year.
Cobcast Ryan: Michigan State. We dominated them all game last year and we’re better this year on paper. If we held onto the ball we would have beat them by 14 at least. Prove I’m wrong. You can’t.
Husker Mike: Michigan State. Nebraska’s freshmen gift wrapped that game last season with the dropsies. A Pelini defense matches up well with the Spartans offense, and I think Nebraska pulls off the upset in East Lansing.
Brian: Iowa. People think that’ll be for the West, and it very well may be. Hawkeyes get shitty support on Thanksgiving, Nebraska shuts out that O, and they fry that the game should be moved again.
Guarantee a loss for Nebraska that people think is a victory:
Jon: LOSS? WTF? I’m not guaranteeing a loss! Delirium, remember?
Cheeseandcorn: I’m not going to guarantee a loss, but the Miami game scares me. No real reason - just has that 2013 UCLA feel to me. We’re going to be feeling really good after the Huskers win at Fresno, but that game may take us down a peg.
Ranchbabe: Saban creates a Twitter account and adopts an adorable sugar glider that wins over the hearts and minds of college football fans and robs Nebraska of its 3rd straight offseason national championship.
Paul - Nebraska’s chances of victory against Fresno State is only .42. Considering that Fresno State is returning a lot from a team that went 11-2 and 7-0 at home, and the game is a night game on the West Coast I think Nebraska is a legit underdog in this game. I think NU loses this game.
Cobcast Ryan: None. We’re underrated.
Husker Mike: Can’t do it. See below.
Brian: I worry a lot more about Miami than I do against Fresno State. The Bulldogs replace enough that they don’t scare me. However, the problem is that the Miami game may have ESPN visiting on the TV side, a pumped up night crowd, a team that isn’t sure exactly how good they are, and a lot of older folks thinking FINALLY WE GOT THEM IN OUR HOUSE LETS KICK THEIR ASSES. Last time I remember that happening, it was against a god awful Texas team some years ago and Big Red came out flat against Garrett f’ing Gilbert.
Call your shot: Overall win/loss result for the season, and where does Nebraska play their bowl game at the end of the season?:
Jon: 12-0, Big Ten title, but they get pushed out of College Football Playoff when the committee decides to take two SEC teams, complaining that since Braxton Miller didn’t play the entire season the whole conference is no better than the MAC. Tom Osborne resigns the committee in protest, uttering his first swear word (damn) at the press conference.
Nebraska plays in the Holiday Bowl, wins it easily, going 13-0, but is not crowned national champion by the playoff committee. Husker fans everywhere know different.
I would like to point out that there was no alcohol involved in this entire prediction segment (at least mine), and that I don’t need alcohol to be a delusional homer.
Cheeseandcorn: 9-3, with losses to Miami, MSU, and a crushing loss to Iowa that gives the Hawkeyes a spot in the Big Ten championship game. The Huskers play in the Outback Bowl, lose to a mid-tier SEC team (let’s say...Texas A&M), to get that universe-balancing fourth loss.
Ranchbabe: I think the 4-loss meme finally goes away. Problem is, I don’t know which way it will go. Hmmm, west champions and loss in the CCG. Eleven wins for the first time under Bo when we beat some mid-upper class SEC team in a bowl convincingly enough that way-too-early-polls for 2015 put Husker hype into overdrive despite losing Gregory and Abdullah to the draft..
Paul - 8-4, with losses to Fresno State, Sparty, Wisconsin, and Iowa/Miami. A second tier bowl such as a return trip to the Gator Bowl, Kraft Mac&Cheese Bowl, or the Pinstripe (is that really a thing?) Bowl.
Cobcast Ryan: 10 -2 or 11-1, Iowa and/or Wisky. Depending on how their seasons play out we could still end up in B1G championship. We beat Michigan State again if we do. They are so overrated they should be in the SEC. I’m not sure how the bowls work now, i’ll figure it out when I need to but we get a decent one.
Husker Mike: 11-1. There I said it. I don’t believe that there is anybody on Nebraska’s schedule that they can’t beat. Wisconsin has too many unknowns at this point to really judge them at this point, so that’s a huge question mark. Where do they play? On New Years’ Eve at the Orange Bowl, unless the B1G relaxes their secondary agreement with the Orange Bowl to open up the Fiesta Bowl.
Brian: I wish I had that much optimism. But Nebraska simply has proven to me that they are a 9 win team under Bo Pelini. Maybe the whole shorter practices thing helps. Maybe going full balls on Friday helps. However, in the end, it’s going to be whether Bo and his staff and leaders on the team realize that 4 losses are a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. 9-3 in the regular season, and… sure, lets say that Nebraska wins a bowl game in Orlando vs. Florida. Again, I hope they prove me wrong on the good side and win 11. But at the same time, they could only win 7.