Hot Reads: What the 'Bottom' Looks Like for Nebraska Football
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Hot Reads: What the ‘Bottom’ Looks Like for Nebraska Football

September 24, 2018

"I told them that I honestly believe this is going to be the bottom right here," Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said Saturday after his Huskers had been humbled by Michigan.

It almost has to be. It's hard for a Power 5 school to be beaten as badly as Nebraska was in the 56-10 loss. Per Football Study Hall's advanced box scores, the Wolverines had a 40.9-percentage-point edge over the Huskers in success rate. Fifty percent of Michigan's plays were "successful" based on down and distance, while just under 10 percent of Nebraska's were.

That was the second-largest margin of the week behind Miami's 48.9 edge over FIU. It's also the second-largest gap between two Power 5 teams in a game this season. Only Ohio State's 48.0-percentage-point edge over Rutgers in Week 2 is larger.

Nebraska doesn't want to be keeping Rutgers company, so when Frost calls this the "bottom," it at least makes sense. It would be hard to know what lower would even look like.

So for the sake of posterity, let's note the baseline power rankings at this very moment, and see how far the loss to Michigan knocked the Huskers back.

Let's start with S&P+, which was high on Nebraska after one week. This week, however, brought the biggest drop of any team in the country. Via Bill Connelly:

It’s been like stages of grief with S&P+ and Nebraska. After the Huskers narrowly lost to Colorado in a game that played out on paper like a NU win, they rose quite a bit. Then they fell 17 spots following a discouraging loss to Troy. Then they fell 27 spots following the humiliation against Michigan. And based on what we saw last week, 73rd feels too high — there might be more falling to go.

The drop was less severe in the Sagarin ratings –– from 66th to 77th –– and less severe again in the Massey ratings, a drop of seven spots, though the Huskers are now 88th in the latter (one spot behind Illinois). 

The FEI ratings haven't yet been updated following Saturday's games, but expect something similar as Nebraska sat at 66th a week ago. In FPI the Huskers fell from 72nd to 79th..

How does all of that compare to where this staff started with this team? Below are this week's rankings alongside 2017's year-end rankings.

Rating 2018 Week 4 2017 Final
Sagarin 77 75
S&P+ 73 103
Massey 88 73
FEI 66* 99
FPI 79 70

Nebraska's ranking going into the Michigan game.

Just how did Nebraska end up in this spot? That's going to take a while to unpack, but I expect it to be a popular topic this week.

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