One of my least favorite parts of this job is making predictions about the season record. For what it’s worth my prediction last season was 5-7. So I wasn’t too far off.
I know that my predictions are probably going to be way off. Nebraska will likely lose at least one game that it should win. Unfortunately, it could lose multiple games it should win. Nebraska might end up pulling off an upset and beat either Wisconsin and/or Iowa.
I have a slightly more optimistic view of this season compared to 2021. I have three reasons behind that belief. First, I believe the pass rush will be substantially improved. Second, the offense will value the ball. When you combine those two things the turnover margin I think will flip in Nebraska’s favor. Third, the special teams unit might be average which would be a huge improvement.
So those are the three things I’m hanging my hat on. So here we go.
Northwestern - August 27th in Ireland at 11:30 a.m.
My Hope: Nebraska Doesn’t Hurt Itself
My Worry: The Pat Fitzgerald Bounce Back Season
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 18
Both Northwestern and Nebraska failed last season when it came to try and win football games. They each had a 3-9 record in 2021. It’s safe to say that Northwestern will not go out and beat you. They are going to do things the right way and let you beat yourself, which has been Scott Frost’s specialty.
As Frost said, the beatdown Nebraska put on Northwestern last year was a fluke. I would agree.
In this game, I hope that Nebraska’s talent level rises up and takes over. That would require however that Nebraska doesn’t give the game away.
North Dakota - September 3rd in Lincoln at 2:30 p.m.
My Hope: This is Not North Dakota State
My Worry: Extremely Quick Turnaround from Traveling to Ireland.
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 21.
If Nebraska was playing North Dakota State then I might pick them to lose this game. I’m concerned about the ability to refocus after the trip back from Ireland. The time change alone is going to take several days to adjust to and it should be a concern.
However, North Dakota is a bottom half FCS team. Last season they went 5-6 and 3-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference. They only lost to North Dakota state by 6 last year so there’s that.
The game will be closer than it should because of the Ireland trip but Nebraska will walk away with the comfortable win.
Georgia Southern - September 10th in Lincoln at 6:30 p.m.
My Hope: Nebraska Should Cruise
My Worry: Looking Ahead to Oklahoma
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 38
Clay Helton, formerly the head coach of USC, is trying to turn this program around and this will be his first season to do so. I’m not particularly worried about this game. I think Georgia Southern will be still in the middle of the transition for this to be much of a problem for Nebraska.
That is unless the players are so focused on who is coming to Lincoln the following week.
Oklahoma - September 17th in Lincoln at 11:00 a.m.
My Hope: Memorial Stadium is Rocking
My Worry: Will Nebraska Be Able to Run the Ball?
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 10
Scott Frost announced that Casey Thompson would be the starting quarterback. Last year Casey Thompson threw for 388 yards and five touchdowns (no interceptions) against Oklahoma. The five touchdown - zero interceptions line for Thompson gives me reason for hope.
Of course, Oklahoma now has a new head coach who is defense minded in Brent Venables. The Sooner defense might be improved but they also lost a bunch of guys to the transfer portal like Heisman contender Caleb Williams.
Oklahoma replaces him with Dillon Gabriel, a UCF transfer. I think we would rather go against Gabriel than Caleb Williams.
I have a lot of confidence in this Nebraska defense at this point. Can they slow them down enough to allow Casey Thompson to win the game. Thompson helped Texas put up 48 points on Oklahoma last year. I don’t think he’ll need 48, but maybe 30?
Indiana - October 1st in Lincoln at 6 or 6:30 p.m.
My Hope: Nebraska will take care of the ball.
My Worry: Tom Allen can Coach.
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 21
Tom Allen can coach. Even after going 2-10 in 2021, I think we know that the 2020 season was likely a better indication of his program. They ended up firing their offensive coordinator last season and will be in a transition kind of like Nebraska.
Like against Northwestern, Nebraska should win this game easily unless it hurts itself. I think they will take care of the ball and not allow Indiana to take advantage.
Rutgers - October 7th in Piscataway, NJ on Friday at 6:00 p.m.
My Hope: Nebraska doesn’t hurt itself.
My Worry: Greg Schiano
My Prediction: Nebraska Loses by 6:
You know the whole not hurting yourself thing that has been helping Nebraska? Well Greg Schiano can coach and he is going to turn Nebraska over multiple times on a Friday night for a win for Rutgers.
This is the letdown game.
Purdue - October 15th in West Lafayette, IN at TBD
My Hope: David Bell plays for the Cleveland Browns and Nebraska’s improved pass rush.
My Worry: Aidan O’Connell
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 10
Aidan O’Connell is the best quarterback in the league outside of C.J. Stroud. Thankfully David Bell, one of the best wide receivers in the country, left a year early for the NFL draft.
O’Connell is going to really test the Nebraska secondary. Hopefully, halfway through the season is time enough to get the young members of Nebraska’s secondary ready for this challenge.
The difference maker is going to be Ochaun Mathis and the rest of the edge rushers. They are going to get Purdue to turn the ball over and that will be the difference.
Illinois - October 29th in Lincoln at TBD
My Hope: Back to Not Hurting Themselves
My Worry: 70-31 in 2012
My Prediction: Nebraska Wins by 18.
Yes, I still have PTSD from that game and the head coach is now coaching Illinois and he beat Nebraska last year in Week 0.
This is the beginning of the hardest stretch of the season for Nebraska. The Bye week before this will hopefully allow Nebraska to get healthy and fix some things.
Frost is currently 2-2 in his four years against Illinois. He has lost the last two. My prediction goes back again to the fact that Nebraska will win the turnover battle and won’t hurt itself.
Minnesota - November 5th in Lincoln at TBD
My Hope: Casey Thompson Can Keep Nebraska's Offense on the Field
My Worry: Can Nebraska Stop the Run?
My Prediction: Nebraska Loses by 6.
Minnesota ranked last in the conference in passing attempts because they love to run the ball. They’ve done a great job developing the offensive line and they lean on the bigs. Tanner Morgan comes back for his final year and one of the best running backs in the league from two seasons ago in Mohamed Ibrahim.
Doesn’t it feel like Tanner Morgan has been at Minnesota for the better part of a decade?
My hope is that, again, Casey Thompson takes care of the ball and Nebraska can stay on the field offensively. That will probably be the difference as we know Minnesota will want to run the ball.
Michigan - November 12th in Ann Arbor, MI at TBD
My Hope: Have to win Turnover Battle by 2
My Worry: Everything
My Prediction: Nebraska Loses by 14
My only hope in Nebraska winning this game is that they win the turnover battle by at least two against Michigan. The game is in Ann Arbor and it’s likely that Michigan will be in the hunt for their second division title in a row.
It’s the opportunity for the upset but things are going to have to bounce Nebraska’s way for that to happen.
Wisconsin - November 19th in Lincoln at TBD
My Hope: Nebraska’s Pass Rush Gets to Graham Mertz.
My Worry: Nebraska’s Ability to Stop the Run.
My Prediction: Nebraska wins by 7.
Like Nebraska, Wisconsin went out and hired a new offensive coordinator in Bobby Engram. We know that Wisconsin has always been known to run the ball but they appear to be in search for a more balanced approach.
If Nebraska can get out to a lead and let their pass rush get to Graham Mertz then they might put Wisconsin in an uncomfortable position.
They obviously have to get there first.
Iowa - November 25th in Iowa City, IA at TBD
My Hope: Nebraska Can Get the Lead, but Can It Close Out the Game?
My Worry: Again. Can It Close Out the Game?
My Prediction: Nebraska loses by 3.
Iowa kicking a game-winning field goal in Iowa City is what I see in this future. Iowa extends it’s consecutive series win streak.
What it comes down to is rather stupid. I think Nebraska will beat Wisconsin this season. If that does happen, I think it’s a little unrealistic to think they would also beat Iowa in the same season.
That’s the extent of the analysis. I think Nebraska finally gets one of those two games but it won’t get both, so if I predicted a win against Wisconsin then that means Nebraska also loses to Iowa.
So I guess I have Nebraska going 8-4 in 2022. Seems a tad optimistic based off of the past results of the Scott Frost era. Like I said above, I think that the offense is going to take care of the ball with a new offensive coordinator and Frost taking the CEO approach. An improvement in special teams should be expected.
The addition of Ochaun Mathis cannot be overstated when it comes to the pass rush. If Nebraska can get into the positive side of the turnover margin in 2022 then 8-4 should not be out of the realm of possibilities.