clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Revisiting My 15 Preseason Predictions for the 2023 Nebraska Football Season - Through Nine Games

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Well we are three games in, a quarter of the season, and it is time to revisit my 15 preseason predictions.

Each prediction will get a outlook or verdict of some type.

If you would like to see what I wrote about each prediction back on August 31st then you can find that here.

I revisited my predictions through three games here. Here it is through six games.

15 Smaller Predictions

Nebraska Will Win the Turnover Battle for the First Time Since 2016

Outlook: IT’S REALLY Not Looking Good.

As of my last “revisit” Nebraska was 126th in the country in turnover margin. It is now 128th and there is nothing that makes me think that Nebraska is going to make up a negative 12 turnover margin at this point.

They have four games to do it, but unless there is an unprecedented historical turnaround, I am pretty sure it isn’t happening.

Jeff Sims Starts Every Game but Won’t Finish Every Game

Verdict: Wrong.

Jeff Sims sustained a high ankle sprain in the loss to Colorado so Heinrich Haarberg got the start. Haarberg has started every game since.

In fact, the last time Jeff Sims got into the game, the offense looked so inept and unorganized and then he fumbled it as it was returned for a touchdown I couldn’t help but think that the idea that he would be an upgrade over Haarberg is now not even a consideration.

People are now asking about Purdy, and it sounds like he is still third.

Nebraska Will Fair Catch a Kickoff at Least Once

Outlook: Unknown.

As I said, according to Matt Rhule, they will not fair catch a kickoff. It’ll either fly into the end zone or they will return it. My prediction is that the B1G teams are going to force his hand at some point.

It has not happened yet though.

They have started fair catching punts, which is something they did not want to do but that had more to do with Billy Kemp’s health and just wanting to catch the ball.

Nebraska Will Be Bowl Eligible Before Black Friday

Outlook: Unknown.

Currently sitting at five wins with three games left. The game against Maryland is probably their best opportunity of the three games left but the games against Wisconsin and Iowa are definitely winnable.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish the regular season 5-7 or 8-4.

Kemp Will Lead the Team in Receptions but a Tight End Will Lead in Touchdowns

Outlook: I feel good about half of this. Unsure about the other.

Billy Kemp is currently leading the team in receptions with 21 receptions. The bad part is that three weeks ago he had 20. This is because he’s been injured.

The guy who is right on his tail is Thomas Fidone who currently has 19.

I feel that is Kemp gets back on the field (on offense) that he will end up taking the reception award but it’s clear that unless something changes that Fidone will easily win the touchdown leader award as he has 4 and the next leader(s) have one touchdown. There are four of them in Kemp, Bullock, Lloyd and Coleman.

Defense Will Carry Nebraska Through First Six Games

Outlook: Boom. Same.

Maybe I should have said “through the entire season” because that’s kind of what it is looking like right now.

This offense is pedestrian at best but this defense could be the best defensive unit we have had since 2010.

Brian Buschini Will Not Be the Only All-Conference Player

Outlook: Not great for Buschini but Definitely for Some Others.

I do not think Buschini will make an all-conference team at this point. He definitely has not play up to his potential.

However, I believe Nebraska will get three-five all-conference defenders. We can pick and choose who they might be but there will be multiple representations from the Nebraska defense at the end of the season.

Nebraska Will Fail to Close out Games in the 1st Half of the Year

Outlook: It’s 50/50.

They failed to close it out against Minnesota.

However, I would say they closed it out against Illinois (though a fumble by Grant sure did not help). Now Illinois is not a great team but that was likely a game Nebraska loses in years past.

So they went 1-1 in closing games out through the first six games.

Nebraska Will Make the Plays to Close Out Games in the 2nd Half of the Year

Outlook: So Far I Say Yes.

The second half of the season (through 3 games) has the Huskers at 2-1 with wins over Purdue and Northwestern. They did not have an opportunity to “close out” against Michigan.

However, with Emmett Johnson’s touchdown run against Purdue after the disastrous turnovers and the defense knocking out a bad Northwestern team in the 4th quarter I think I can say that so far they have closed out some games.

Though that definition is in the eye of the beholder.

One of the Freshman Wide Receivers Will Break Out by the End of the Year

Outlook: Thinking it WILL be a Yes.

As of right now two true freshmen wide receivers are starting football games. Malachi Coleman continues to get targets and he has made some plays where he definitely stands out.

Jalen Lloyd had the big 73 yard touchdown pass against Purdue. Jaiden Doss continues to get reps.

I think over the next three games we are going to see a couple break out freshmen wide receivers.

A True Freshman Will Play Meaningful Snaps for the Offensive Line

Outlook: Not Looking Great but it’s Getting Close.

The injuries continue to mount up. Right now there are two true freshmen who are on the two-deep of the depth chart in Sam Sledge and Gunnar Gottula. You hope it doesn’t happen but it might.

Tristan Alvano Will Have an Opportunity to Kick a Game Winner at Memorial Stadium

Outlook: Unknown.

Three games ago I would have been nervous if he lined up to kick a game winner. Now after making some legitimately impressive kicks (a 55 yarder that could have been good from 90) I would feel comfortable with him in that situation.

Heinrich Haarberg Catches a Touchdown Pass

Outlook: Probably Not Happening.

Coaches have already made comments about all that is being put on Heinrich Haarberg physically and mentally. Are they going to ask him to catch a touchdown pass? I’m guessing not at this point.

Somebody Not Named Nash Hutmacher or Ty Robinson Will Lead the Team in Sacks

Outlook: Looking Good.

Jimari Butler is still leading the team in sacks with 4.5. Hutmacher is right behind him with 4. Tied with Hutmacher is Luke Reimer with 4. So there are options.

A Running Back Will Lead the Team in Rushing but Not By Much

Outlook: Not Looking Good.

Three games ago Haarberg was leading and I said Anthony Grant would pass him. Well that sure isn’t looking like that’ll happen.

Haarberg is leading the team in rushing by over 100 yards. Grant has taken a back seat to Emmett Johnson but Johnson is still over 200 yards behind Haarberg.

One More Small Prediction: 2023 Season Win/Loss Prediction

  1. Minnesota - Loss (Correct)
  2. Colorado - Win (Incorrect)
  3. Northern Illinois - Win (Correct)
  4. Louisiana Tech - Win (Correct)
  5. Michigan - Loss (Correct)
  6. Illinois - Loss (Incorrect)
  7. Northwestern - Win (Correct)
  8. Purdue - Win (Correct)
  9. Michigan State - Win (Incorrect)
  10. Maryland - Loss
  11. Wisconsin - Loss
  12. Iowa - Win

Final Prediction: 7-5.

Outlook: It’s Possible, but Improbable.

Right now as they sit 5-4.

As I said, I can see them winning or losing their next three games. Two of them are at home. Can they go 2-1? Absolutely.

Am I expecting it? No.