We received another set of season predictions this week and you can put this latest set in the 5-7 pile.
If you round up.
That projection comes courtesy of the Massey Ratings, one of the second-wave ranking systems of the BCS era, and it's actually the least bullish of the the three notable computer rankings to come out to this point.
ESPN's FPI had the Huskers ranked 50th overall with a projected 5.5-6.5 record. S&P+ has Nebraska a little farther down the list at 60th overall with a projected 5.3-6.7 record.
Massey isn't far behind with the Huskers at 63rd overall, but it's a full half-win lower than S&P+. While the ranking has Nebraska with a 50-plus percent win probability in five games (Akron, Colorado, Troy, Minnesota, Illinois), if you add all those probabilities up you get a projected record of 4.8-7.2.
The difference here is that Massey likes Colorado and Troy a little more than the other systems, which shaves a couple of percentage points off the win probabilities. It also has Purdue as a slight favorite over Nebraska in Lincoln and likes Iowa (15th nationally) about as much as any preseason ranking I've seen thus far.
Nebraska's ranking puts the Huskers 12th in the Big Ten, but I know the question you really want an answer to is this: Where does that rank among Adidas schools? Glad you asked because Massey's website allows you to see those rankings for some reason that I don't understand but still appreciate and will now use all the time: The Huskers are projected as the 10th-best Adidas school in 2018.
What's all of this mean? The relative consistency of these projections should actually be a pretty good baseline for Nebraska this season. No matter which specific formula you're using, the recent numbers, put through some sort of returning-experience filter and then compared against the same numbers for opponents on the schedule, all come back about 5-7.
Personally I think Nebraska will be better than that in 2018, but I can't support that argument with existing numbers on a page at this point. It has to be about the numbers the Huskers could put up.
A Numbers Game
Nebraska updated its football roster this week, which means we have number assignments for many of the new arrivals. That's something I enjoy reading too much into every year, so some quick superlatives.
I'm declaring Cameron Jurgens (44) the winner on the offensive side. Forty-four is a great football number in general, but given the Jim Brown connotations I think it particularly fits for Jurgens presumed style of play. Runner-up on that side of the ball is Jaron Woodyard for selecting 88, which just screams old-school wide receiver to me.
The defensive winner is clearly Caleb Tannor who selected 1, which for a presumed pass-rush specialist is some Clemson stuff. Runner-up? I actually don't have one. Tannor taking 1 actually finished first and second.
Biggest upset? Miles Jones wearing 26. Would've bet everything that he'd be a single-digit guy, which reminds me: Should we read anything into the fact that none of the newcomers chose Scott Frost's number 7? Mohamed Barry has it, but that still leaves one open slot. I'm now officially very interested in who will be willing to wear their coach's old number going forward.
The Grab Bag
- Hunter S. Thompson tried to persuade Colts owner Jim Irsay to take Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. His letter to Irsay is, of course, great.
- Penn State still looks dangerous with a favorable schedule and one of the best QBs in the country.
- Jalen Watts-Jackson, the Michigan State defensive back who scored on the famous blocked punt in 2015, is giving up football to join the Air Force.
- ICYMI: Greg Smith updated his list of the top Husker prospects for the month of July and Derek Peterson takes a look at Purdue in 2018.
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.