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Staff Roundtable: Predicting The 2017 Nebraska Football Season

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The season is almost upon us! Here’s what’s going to happen, according to CN Staff!

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

EIGHT DAYS TO KICKOFF!!!!!

Here you go, the annual, “What’s going to happen this season?” from the CN Staff!

Who will be the Most Valuable Player of this team?

Hoss: I’m going to go with obvious of QB1 Tanner Lee as the MVP of this team. However, it bears mentioning that if Lee has the year many inside the program and out are expecting, than the offensive line will have coalesced into a valuable unit conducive for Lee’s success and the program’s transcendence.

Husker Mike: I fully agree that if Lee has the year that matches the talk (from others), he’ll be the MVP. That being said, I’m going to the other side of the ball with my prediction and go with Joshua Kalu. There’s a reason why the coaches want to keep him at safety despite Chris Jones’ injury.

Andy: Tanner Lee. At least until our line gets him murdered/spine snapped/Bernard Pollarded/shoulder dislocateded. Then......let’s call it Josh Kalu since he’s the best safety in the country.

Salt Creek and Stadium: Future Emerging Running Back, to be named later. I suspect Tanner Lee will be a solid addition to the team, but I think come November, Nebraska will be thankful that one of their running backs emerges and carries them home to a Big Ten West title. RUN THE DADGUM BALL (when appropriate). A close second? Our OL successfully does their jobs for a full season!

Nate M: In Scrubs, one of the greatest shows ever by the way, Elliott and J.D. compete for Chief Resident of Sacred Heart hospital. Elliott ends up “winning” as she receives the title of Chief Resident, while J.D. receives the title of Co-Chief Resident. In this case my prediction is that Tanner Lee will win Most Valuable Player, while Drew Brown will win Co-Most Valuable Player.

I predict that there are going to be some very close games this year. Our defense will be learning on the fly and our offense will be improved. Drew Brown is going to win us 2-3 games.

Jon: Even average quarterbacks get all the girls. If Lee is average, Nebraska won’t have a good season. If he’s above average, he’ll probably win an award, like being MVP. He’ll also keep us from having to play Patrick O’Brien or Tristan Gebbia, saving those guys so they can gain more maturity.

Having said that, I’m going with Big Mick Stoltenberg. He has to be the anchor of underwear model Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense. If he is stout, the defense will work. If he isn’t, then, well, we probably go back to a 4-3 and hope to play average defense.

Jill: It’s always the quarterback. If Tanner Lee is good, he’s MVP. Since that’s too obvious, I’m going to pick DPE. He’s gonna score a bunch, whether on special teams, wideout, or jet sweeps. All the talk about his knee being 100% is just as useful as the speculation about Tanner Lee, right? On defense, I’ll go with the crowd and say Kalu, even though Jon is probably right in thinking the defense will go as Stoltenberg goes.

What game are you looking forward to on the schedule?

Hoss: I want to say the Wisconsin game because of what it means in terms of winning the West, while also exorcising the demons of jet sweeps past. But I have to say I’m looking for to the Iowa game the most. I cannot stand the boorish cries of "40-10" that I hear while in line at the grocery store, the DMV, or while waiting to get a beer at my favorite West Omaha establishment. Nebraska must show Iowa that if they want a rivalry, that we will gladly oblige them on our own harshly quantified terms.

Mike: I’m going to say Northwestern. Every one will understand if Wisconsin wins the west again. But landing behind Northwestern in the standings? That’s not a sign of progress.

Andy: Penn St. We’re likely not winning, but I won’t take that into consideration as game day approaches and I start raging hard against that collection of amazing doucheknuckles who still truly believe that their football program is the real victim. Like Jim Norton said - if you’re ever raped on that campus, just tell the statue because it can’t do any less than the real JoePa would have.

Salt Creek: Iowa. As much as I hate the turd weasels in Madison, we need to wash out 40-10 and send Brian Ferentz into a Zach Smith-like tizzy about how Iowa has more heart or something like that. (Also, this will result in some Iowa fan dropping into the comments telling us how lame we are and somehow make a comment about NFL players, Super Bowls, California recruits, or whatever else Iowa fans think made them superior.)

Nate M: If we are 5-0 going into the Wisconsin game, and we pull that one out, I will be looking forward to Ohio State the most. I am not looking forward to the Wisconsin game at all. If we lose, then it’s just like yep. They still have our number. If we beat Wisconsin, it will feel like more of a relief than anything. There is no joy in that.

However if we are undefeated going into Ohio State then that probably means two things. One, Tanner Lee is playing really well. Two, the defense is holding up just enough. And if Tanner Lee is playing really well then we have a chance to upset the preseason #2 ranked team in the country in Lincoln. I’ll be replaying videos of our crowd dancing to “Let Me Clear My Throat” as well as Coach Riley’s Hip Hip Hurrah after the game. There is joy in that.

Jon: Wisconsin, because we need to be up a game on them to win the Big Ten West. And Minnesota, because I don’t want to hear any crap from my rotten son who has chosen to attend that university.

Jill: Probably Wisconsin. We really need to get that Badger off our backs and win.

What is Nebraska’s final record on the season?

Hoss: 10-2, with a sweep of the West. Lose a closer than expected Saturday night thriller against OSU in Lincoln and drop a nailbiter in Happy Valley in mid-late November, before getting a rematch with tOSU in Indy.

Mike: Last month, I predicted ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ... and I’m sticking with it. My range of thoughts goes from 10-2 (I’m still going with a split between Wisconsin at home and Penn State on the road) to 4-8. I like what Nebraska is doing on defense this season (even with the injury to Jones), but I’m not sold on the offense and Tanner Lee. I simply cannot reconcile the talk about Tanner Lee and the actual performances of Tanner Lee. He wasn’t always hurt at Tulane, and some of the same excuses about what happened at Tulane could also be applied to Nebraska. (Inexperienced receivers? Check. Offensive line struggles? Mike Cavanaugh.) So I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude. There are a bunch of reasons why Vegas and ESPN set the win projection under six, and I don’t think I’ve got enough information to override that. If I have to pick a most likely scenario, I’ll go 7-5. We’ll win a game that we probably shouldn’t win with that record (Oregon or Northwestern) and lose one that should make us furious (Purdue?).

Andy: Mediocre O-line returning with mediocre position coach. Multiple unproven new starters at skill positions but many with playmaking potential. QB with NFL(?) caliber arm, limited mobility and ability to check down to a 2nd receiver. Outside of Carl, 1st competent DC since the Callahan years. But installing completely new scheme. Best cover corner out. Banker & Stewart finally purged. 1st schedule with more than baby teeth since Riley’s arrival.

7-5 most likely, but I’ll go with Riley getting back to his annual upset thing while finding interesting ways to lose 1 or 2 tight games and call it 8-4. Let the upset be Penn St. Please.

Salt Creek: We sweep our non-conference and win the Big Ten West, but I won’t put numbers on it because college football is stupid. Wisconsin and Northwestern tie for #2, Iowa at #4, Minnesota at #5, and Illinois and Purdue kick shins for #6 and #7. Probably drop a heart-breaker in Indianapolis to either Ohio State or Penn State. (Harbaugh goes another year without a championship to back up his antics, but the CFB media ignores this and claims 2018 is Michigan’s year, for sure this time.)

Nate M: 8-4. And I hope people take a step back and realize that 8-4 would be a very successful season. While it might not result in as many wins as the year before, if we go 8-4 with this schedule it would look like tremendous progress to me. Especially if we don’t get blown out on national television. PLEASE DO NOT GET BLOWN OUT ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.

Jon: 9-3, because that’s where we’re stuck until we make the next great leap forward. We’ll win our non-conference games, then lose to Ohio State, Penn State, and probably Minnesota, because we’re on the road, we shouldn’t lose to a first-year snake oil salesman coach, and because it would make me miserable so you know damned well that’s what will happen.

Jill: 8-4 is my pick. I have tOSU and Penn St. chalked up as losses. I didn’t take the Lions very seriously last year and, ummm, well that was a bad idea. After that, I guess we drop one early in the season because of all the new moving parts. They won’t come together as quickly as we need them to. We also are going to lose another one along the way because....just because we will. It better not be Iowa. I was tempted to pick 7-5 or even 6-6 because of all the unknowns. As usual, I let my optimist out for these predictions articles. I should probably look at the schedule more closely before I do that.