There have been many reasons that folks say Nebraska will start 0-1 on the season.
I am here to help your nerves and give you 5 good reasons to be hopeful tomorrow.
History says Nebraska should win:
You have to go back to 1985 to find a Nebraska Cornhuskers team that lost the season opener. Since then the Huskers have gone 29-0 in season openers. That is the longest active streak of its kind in college football. In the past Nebraska has been all but guaranteed to add to the streak, but this year Nebraska has a tougher task with the BYU Cougars rolling into Memorial stadium.
BYU Suspensions & Injuries:
BYU has been hit just as hard by the injury bug as Nebraska. It began with linebacker Colby Jorgensen having a potential career ending neck injury. A week later starting tight end Steven Richards suffered a season ending knee injury. BYU’s leading rusher Jamaal Williams withdrew from school earlier this summer for personal reasons. Williams has rushed for over 2,500 yards in his career. The Cougars still have yet to announce any suspensions resulting from a brawl after their bowl game last season, and it doesn’t look like we will know of any suspensions until game time. Finally, sophomore linebacker Sione Takitaki has been suspended for the season opener. Takitaki was charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft. Takitaki was battling for a starting linebacker spot before his suspension.
Whenever there is a coaching change the first home game is a big one. Expect a huge, loud, and reenergized crowd. BYU has played in front of big crowds, and had a lot of success (at Texas last year), but when Memorial Stadium has reason to be loud, few venues compare. Last year on a late September night Nebraska was playing Miami, the game was chippy, ugly, and loud as hell. The crowd would not allow Nebraska to lose momentum. It wasn’t just the drunken students this time, it was the whole damn stadium. If the stadium is anything like it was against Miami (which it should be), BYU will have a tough time leaving Lincoln with a win.
Mike Riley has never had this kind of talent on a college team. His best Oregon State teams hardly match up to his first Nebraska team. Along with his staff, Riley has instilled a new attitude around the program. Riley and co. came in and hit the ground running. They did not miss a beat recruiting, and Nebraska saw very few players transfer from the program. Because Riley was able to keep the foundation of this team intact, there is no need for a rebuild. Riley inherited a 9-win team with a ton of talent. Expectations are the same as they have always been at Nebraska, and Riley knows the importance of game one.
BYU’s Defensive Struggles:
BYU had an explosive offense last season, which kept them in several games. The defense was a different story. In 2014 BYU had just 26 sacks which ranked 70th in the country. BYU’s scoring defense ranked 73rd in the country, giving up 27 points per game. While the Cougars rushing defense ranked in the top-20, their passing defense ranked 114th in the country. If Nebraska is going to win this game it may have to come through the air, which could make for an interesting game. Tommy Armstrong has had his issues throwing the ball, but he could be in for a big game against a defense that has really struggled recently.
This will be the most challenging opening game for Nebraska in some time, add in the new coaching staff and question marks around the offense, and you can see this game going either way. For Nebraska to win, they will have to take advantage of a weak secondary, and protect Armstrong at all times. I like Nebraska in this game, and Vegas does too. Currently the line sits at Nebraska -7.