I guess it’s never too early to start projecting records for the 2017 season. As long as you’re comfortable constantly revising that projection over the months to come as players get hurt, leave or worse, why not? All we’ve got is time right now.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report projected the record for every Power 5 team, which is good for voracious offseason appetites and probably bad for nuance. It’s hard to take one conference and make sure all of the various conference wins and losses match up, much less five so you have to keep things pretty general in this case. But enough preamble.
Kenyon has the Huskers going 7-5 in 2017. Here’s the explanation:
Per SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, no Big Ten offense must replace more of its offensive production than Nebraska. Additionally, the Cornhuskers will play Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State. That combination is a major problem, but Nebraska will also get Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue—likely the three worst conference teams. Although it’s a rebuilding year, the Cornhuskers should be bowl-eligible.
Expect to hear that experience argument often this offseason (though the one linked here is better than the typical returning starters). Nebraska doesn’t have much experience at the offensive skill positions. It does have it in the secondary on defense, but the scheme switch clouds that experience calculation for the Blackshirts for now.
I don’t think 7-5 is unreasonable based on what we know now. In fact, I’ll be sort of surprised if the Huskers’ win total isn’t 7.5 in Vegas whenever those numbers are released. When I look at the schedule, I cautiously pencil in five wins from the start: Arkansas State, NIU, Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue. I’m least certain about the season opener against Arkansas State. That’s a good Sun Belt program that has won at least seven games in each of Coach Blake Anderson’s three seasons.
That leaves seven games that are toss-ups or worse for Nebraska. The Huskers likely won’t be favored in three of them — Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State — the first two of which are at home. Say Nebraska were to lose all three. That’s 5-3, so what’s your projection for Nebraska against the remaining slate: at Oregon, Northwestern, at Minnesota, Iowa?
The two road games there are ones where Nebraska might have an edge, but are somewhat tricky considering those two programs are under new head coaches. Northwestern looks like it might have its best team in a while, and Iowa has won two straight over the Huskers.
You writing in 2-2 for that last group of games? It’s tough to write in anything at this point, but Kenyon’s 7-5 projection for Nebraska came with a 5-4 conference record. Based on his other Big Ten projections, that would put the Huskers in a tie for second in the West with Northwestern and Iowa.
If you see Tom Osborne today, wish him a happy 80th birthday.
Same goes for Vincent Valentine (minus the 80th part).
We're celebrating Valentine's day two weeks in a row. Happy birthday, @TheRealVRVJ! pic.twitter.com/cPYyucm4PZ
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 23, 2017
The Grab Bag
- The NCAA announced new allegations against the Ole Miss football program yesterday. The Rebels already announced a voluntary postseason ban in 2017, but everyone seems to agree that things are going to be much worse than that.
- How Northwestern became the best passing team in the Big Ten.
- Sports media geekery here, but this is a crazy story of how a potentially big sports-media deal went bad.
- AD Shawn Eichorst took to the airwaves last night and touched on the future of Nebraska basketball on Husker Sports Nightly last night.
- ICYMI: We began our spring position previews yesterday with quarterbacks. Jacob Padilla also gets you ready for Nebrasketball’s trip to East Lansing.
Today’s Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.