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The Unabridged CornNation Q&A on Nebraska Football in 2016

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Last weekend, InsideNW sent the CornNation staff a few questions to answer for their preview series.  The team set down and put down their thoughts about the 2016 edition of Nebraska football, and sent it back to the InsideNW team.

Apparently, it wasn't what the purple people were looking for.

We found their post on Monday...and recognized a handful of our thoughts made it into their preview.  (Actually, a "handful" is being a bit generous.)  After the team got Cobby out of detox, we decided that while the InsideNW team didn't find it useful...maybe our readers would.  After all, we haven't really answered these questions on CornNation yet.

So here you have it:  the Unabridged Edition of the InsideNW Q&A on Nebraska Football.

Best case scenario for Nebraska football in 2016?

Jon Johnston: No one knows what Nebraska will do in 2016. There were so many close games last year, and this with a team that really didn't rally fully behind new head coach Mike Riley until late in the year. You could assume those problems are over, the team will move in the same direction, and our offensive and defensive lines will magically come together, losing only to Ohio State on the road and to Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. 10-2 regular season, then a win in a bowl game against a SEC team. 11-2. Final answer.

Ranchbabe (Jill): Best case is that Mike Riley remembers that Tommy Armstrong is his quarterback. The Husker offense strikes fear into the hearts of linebackers and strong safeties everywhere when Coach makes good on his spring ball promise to use Tommy's running ability. Somehow, this season still produces the first 1000 yard receiver in school history. De'Mornay Pierson-El returns to his Iowa-terrorizing self. Since this is the best-case section, I'll just pretend the defensive line doesn't exist. The B1G West is ours as God intended.

Brian: Win the West and make a whole lot of noise in the Big Ten title game against Michigan or a rematch with Ohio State. Some would think that's unattainable, but if the Defense gets a touch better with Tommy Armstrong cutting down SOME MY GOD of the int's, it's feasible.

COBBY: BEST CASE SCENARIO IS THAT WE KICK RUTGERS OUT OF THE FUCKING CONFERENCE AND ADD OUR FORMER ESKIMO BROTHERS IN NORMAN. AT LEAST STOOPSIE AND BROTHAS AREN'T ON THE WELFARE PLAN LIKE MARYLAND, AND THEY DON'T HAVE MRSA, SHITBAG AD'S OR SUCH RUNNING IN THE JERSEY SWAMP.

Mike: Anybody who looked at Nebraska last season could tell that Nebraska was a handful of plays away from 10-2 or maybe even 11-1. (OK, most of those plays were against Purdue, but still there were enough games were just a handful of plays would have turned defeat into victory.)  Jon is close when he said that Nebraska was "a team that really didn't rally fully behind new head Mike Riley until late in the year."  But he's got it backwards: new head coach Mike Riley didn't really rally behind his team until the end of the season. He tried to implement his pass-first Oregon State offense onto a team that was designed to run the ball.  In the two worst losses of the season, Nebraska refused to run the ball against the worst run defenses in the league...and it resulted in mind-blowing losses.  But in the bowl game against UCLA, the coaches reversed their mindset, committed to doing what the team did bes in running the ball, and pulled off the upset.  If they do that in 2016, Nebraska can go 10-2 or maybe 11-1 and win the West.

Worst case?

Jon: The worst-case scenario is that the offensive and defensive lines do not perform well, Nebraska is not able to score any points and the defense gives up a bazillion points a game.  That would result in a season, let's say, oh around 2 -€” 10.  I had to choose between the two I'd say we're closer to the best case scenario then this worst-case scenario, mostly because all of Nebraska would burn and the world would end were the Huskers to have that bad a record at the end of the season.

Jill: A repeat of last year seems like worst case around here. I know it can get worse, but I refuse to imagine that world.

Brian: Well, 3-9, Mike Riley is shown the door, Shawn Eichorst is forced to read a Tom Osborne paper interview on who should he hire, and the Huskers try to get it right again.

COBBY: WORST CASE IS THAT WE TAKE OUR TALENTS TO THE FREAKING MAC. BIG TEN LIGHT, WHERE WE'D LOOK UP TO FUCKING DEPAUL, WICHITA STATE, AND FRANKIE SOLICH. MAYBE JUST THEN WE'D BEAT SOMEONE LIKE YOU HOT DOG SANDWICH ARTISTS FROM SUBWAY.

Mike: Just before spring practice, Mike Riley mentioned that he hoped not to have to run the ball more, as he'd prefer to simply run the ball better. If you look at the players he's recruiting and how he coached last season, you can make a case that he prefers to throw the ball. If he falls back into that trap with this group of players, you can see another sub-.500 season out of Nebraska.  I don't think 2-10 or 3-9 are in the cards, but frankly, I didn't see 6-7 in the cards last season either.

Prediction for Nebraska at Northwestern?

Jon: Since Nebraska is "Chicago's Big Ten Team", the Huskers will enjoy home field advantage. Check out this bit from our Husker Mike's 2016 Northwestern Preview:

The NU/NW series is marked by an interesting statistic that you probably have never seen before: in every Big Ten game between the two teams, the visiting team has led in every game as the clock hit 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter. Thanks to the legendary RK3-to-1 Hail Mary, Nebraska does enjoy the series lead during the Big Ten era.

Barring another Hail Mary, or last-second field goal, I mean, what are the chances of those happening? Nebraska's gonna win this one. 30-28.

Jill: My very bold prediction is that Thorson has to go to the silent count at home and Chicago welcomes all those Husker fan tourist dollars. Bold prediction #2? It will be a crazy game with a fourth quarter lead change.  I know, going out on a limb here.

Brian: Visiting team tends to win these games the last couple of years right? Should mean that Nebraska wins this one, as Pat Fitzgerald still wants to know what the fuck that quarter safety is doing.

COBBSTER: MY HOPE IS THAT THE FEEBLE GROUNDSKEEPERS THEY HIRE AT THIS SCHOOL FIND A SCOTSMAN TO TAKE CARE OF THAT HIGH SCHOOL FIELD THAT TEXAS FOOTBALL KINGS IN THE MIDDLE OF ODESSA LAUGH AT. WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE, SOMEONE USES THAT CAPITAL ONE MASTERCARD AND GETS A ACTUAL LAWNMOWER FROM A CHICAGO AREA TORO DEALER TO ACTUALLY SHOW THEY MOW THAT PASTURE BELOW 4 INCHES. YOU GET BIG TEN MONEY BUT MOW LIKE YOU'RE IN THE WAC. MAKES NO SENSE BUT WHATEVER, WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT HORTICULTURE.

Mike:  Nebraska finds a way to win in Chicago, just like they always seem to.  ("HUS-KER HOME GAME! clap*clap*clapclapclap")  NU 34, NW 28.

Overall season prediction?

Jon: Wasn't that covered under best case scenario? I am a viciously optimistic guy at ALL times. Just ask my wife and children. And my boss. And my friends... you could ask my friends if I had any.

Jill: This is a team that has bought into their coach's system (at least it seemed that way toward the end of the 2015 season). Depth and injuries are going to take a toll in key areas, especially on defense. We return to our nine-win plateau and are in the B1G West hunt but fall just short. Middling bowl game against a non-motivated SEC opponent might be win 10.

Brian: Nebraska will play 13 football games. They'll win more than they will lose. Anything past that, it's a crapshoot right now.

COBBY: CUBS AIN'T WINNING THE WORLD SERIES AND LOVIE SMITH WILL STILL PISS OFF CHICAGO PEOPLE, BUT BY WINNING THAT SLAPFIGHT.

Mike: I haven't finished my review of 2016 opponents yet, but at this point, I think they'll go 2-1 in the non-conference, and likely go 8-4.  That'll calm the boo-birds.  I can look at this schedule and see anything from 11-2 (losing in Indy) to another 5-7.  11-2 gets him B1G coach of the year.  5-7 gets him a westbound Mayflower van in December.

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So there you have it.  What's your best and worst case scenario for NU in 2016?