Nebraska football has a big opportunity to get its season back on track on Saturday. The Huskers are underdogs, again, but a line that opened with Northwestern favored by a about a touchdown spent most of Wednesday bouncing back and forth between Wildcats -3.5 and -4.
Why? The consensus forming on the Huskers appears to be that they aren't 0-5 bad. Barton Simmons of CBSSports.com/247Sports had Nebraska as a "buy" alongside Arkansas and UCLA this week writing that each of those teams will finish with at least three wins. Right now they've combined for one.
In addition to the much-discussed reasons for optimism around Nebraska at 0-5 –– the offense is putting up yards and eventually those have to turn into points, turnovers luck, etc. –– here's another one: The schedule sets up for Nebraska to gain a little momentum entering November.
The averaged S&P+ ranking of the Huskers' first six opponents (including this Saturday's opponent, Northwestern) was 39. Using Sagarin it's 37. There's no huge break coming, but any break at all would be of use for a fledgling football team and the Huskers will get a slight one over the back half.
Nebraska's remaining five Power 5 teams after Northwestern have an average rank of 43.6 in S&P+, 40.2 in Sagarin. (If you include Bethune-Cookman, 218th in the Sagarin ratings, that second average comes all the way down to 69.8, which is why it doesn't make much sense to do that.)
Things didn't go so well last time Scott Frost made mention of a "winnable game" against Purdue, but I appreciated it because it was true. That was a winnable game. Purdue won it and at least one player got the chance to throw it back at Nebraska, but it wasn't untrue.
Northwestern is a winnable game. Minnesota is a winnable game. Bethune-Cookman has to be a win. Those are the Huskers' next three. Those are the games that lead Nebraska to November and a trip to Ohio State.
That one, for now, is probably not a winnable game. But Husker fans could feel a lot better about it if Nebraska was coming off three-straight wins.
The Huskers have been too inconsistent in too many areas to feel good looking that far ahead. Nebraska needs one win first, but if that comes this Saturday all of the sudden the Huskers' season has a chance to look very different over the back half of the schedule.
The Grab Bag
- Nebraska volleyball got back to winning with a sweep against Indiana. (Photo gallery.)
- Jam-packed mailbag this week with good questions on offensive-line recrcuiting, Northwestern and more.
- The new No Huddle is here and, like Nebraska, had some penalty issues this week.
- Nebraska's staff is concerned about its depth at inside linebacker. Greg Smith looks at the impact that could have on the recruiting trail.
Today's Song of Today