On the Nebraska hype train yet? Dan Orlovsky—a former NFL quarterback and current college football analyst—is if you aren’t.
"Give me the frosted tips of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, they’re back,” Orlovsky said during Wednesday's appearance on Get Up!. “They started 0-6 last year, but in that start, they had four really close games that ended up being losses. Their quarterback, Adrian Martinez, should be on the short list for the Heisman Trophy, 2,400 yards passing, 800 rushing. They got six starters back on defense.
"And guys — I don’t find a tough game on their schedule on the road. Ohio State comes into them, Iowa comes to them, Wisconsin comes to them. Folks, Nebraska can be a national College Football Playoff contender.”
Here we go.
Before Orlovsky made his pick, Nebraska was getting plenty of hype elsewhere. Big Ten conference media members tabbed the Huskers to win the Big Ten West in the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s annual preseason poll. The Nebraska media placed the Huskers at the top of the West in an unofficial preseason poll by The Bottom Line’s Mike’l Severe. It’s safe to say there is a lot of hype surrounding Nebraska at this point.
Not everyone is quite on the same hype train though. Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry, for example, isn’t convinced Nebraska deserves the credit just yet.
“We went 4-8 last year,” he said at Big Ten Media Days. “If anyone on the team thinks that we’re rock stars right now and we haven’t proved nothing, I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”
Scott Frost agrees. When it comes to the media and who it’s picking to win it all, the Huskers’ head coach doesn’t care much about who is being picked to win what.
“There’s a lot of really good teams in our league,” Frost said. “A lot of teams that beat us last year that we didn’t beat. I know we’re better. We’re better than we were a year ago. But we still have to go out and earn anything.
“Picks are picks, guesses are guesses, 90% of the time you guys are wrong when you guess things. But we’re excited. I think there’s going to be some confidence that comes along with that. I don’t think we have the type of team that’s going to get distracted by that.”
So, does the media get its predictions wrong? For the sake of documenting it (and we can review this once again at the end of this season), let’s look at where Nebraska started and ended each season since joining the Big Ten.
We’re using the AP Poll, because it’s a media poll and Frost was directly referring to the media’s predictions in his comment above.
|2011-12||9-4 (5-3 Big Ten)||10||24|
|2012-13||10-4 (7-1 Big Ten)||17||25|
|2013-14||9-4 (5–3 Big Ten)||18||NR|
|2014-15||9-4 (5-3 Big Ten)||22||NR|
|2015-16||6–7 (3–5 Big Ten)||NR||
|2016-17||9–4 (6–3 Big Ten)||NR||NR|
|2017-18||4–8 (3–6 Big Ten)||NR||NR|
|2018-19||4–8 (3–6 Big Ten)||NR||
*NR = Not ranked
Looking at this, some of it’s comparing apples and oranges. Three different head coaches led the Huskers during the eight years listed above. Regardless, Frost’s point does stand. Preseason predictions seem to have overhyped Nebraska each year (at least between 2011 and 2015), for better or worse.
As Nebraska looks toward the 2019-20 season, a big reason for the hype is what Frost accomplished at Central Florida between Year 1 and Year 2. Frost took a winless Knights team in 2015-16 and made it a 6-7 team and made a bowl game in his first year (2016-17). By Year 2 (2017-18), UCF went undefeated. That included a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
But Frost isn’t ready to make too many comparisons between Nebraska and UCF.
“We coached a lot of really good kids and really good players in Orlando,” Frost said. “We got a lot of really good kids and really good players in Lincoln. Those two teams have nothing to do with one another and I’m not going to make any comparisons. I love where I am. I’m the coach at Nebraska.
“We’re concerned about this team. I love the progress this team has made . . . We’re better. We’re better than we were a year ago and the rest of it we’re going to have to earn.”
We have a little time left until the preseason AP Poll is released for the season. In a poll on HailVarsity.com, 72% of voters said they think Nebraska will be ranked to start the season. Based on the amount of excitement surrounding the Huskers by the media so far, it’s hard to imagine Nebraska doesn’t have a shot at being ranked. Do the Huskers deserve it though? Will the media end up overhyping this team, as Frost pointed out in Chicago?
Maybe. But maybe not. The fun part of college football is that anything can happen on any given Saturday. And for Nebraska, the journey to whatever this season has in store begins at the end of this week.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.