Big Ten Nebraska Cornhuskers
The Nebraska Cornhuskers had one of their worst seasons in recent memory in 2017 with an overall record of 4-8 and 4-8 against the spread. First year coach Scott Frost seeks to turn the program around in a hurry. Frost was hired after doing tremendous things at the University of Central Florida and expectations are very high. That being said, it takes a few years to improve recruiting and thus a complete turnaround will not happen in one season. We expect improvement, but feel Nebraska will not exceed a middle of the road Big Ten season.
The offense is led by true Freshman, Adrian Martinez, who was a top recruit for Frost. Martinez chose Nebraska after initially committing to Tennessee. He can throw and is also very mobile. He will be inexperienced, but has the talent to develop over the course of the season. He has a solid receiving corps led by Stanley Morgan who went for just under 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Junior College transfer Greg Bell will improve the running game substantially this season. Three of the five offensive line starters return, but the two that did not start had substantial playing time last season. We expect the line to be good and the offense to be balanced. Last season’s 25.8 points per game will likely be exceeded.
The defense was atrocious last season. The new defensive coordinator made huge strides at UCF and is expected to improve this unit substantially. The front seven should be capable, but the secondary may struggle a bit as it lacks stars. UCF was very strong at forcing turnovers, so a similar aggressive approach here may benefit the unit as a whole. It remains an area of uncertainty that needs to be watched early on in the season.
Nebraska is +2500 to win the Big Ten and has an over/under win total of 5.5. We expect major improvement, but that also coincides with one of the ten toughest schedules in college football. 6-6 is a reasonable expectation even with Frost improving the team, but we do not feel strongly about it to suggest a wager.
Week #1 is a home game against an Akron team that is capable defensively, but struggles to score. It will be a good start for the rebuilt Nebraska defense, and we expect a home win in this spot. The line currently sits at 24.5, which is a bit aggressive. We will pass on this game.
Week #2 is a home game against Colorado. Colorado was 5-7 a year ago and beat only the very bad teams on its schedule. We expect Nebraska to win handily in this spot.
Week #3 is a home game against Troy of the Sun Belt Conference. Troy has been one of the better teams in their conference, but lose some key personnel in the offseason. We expect Troy to regress slightly and for Nebraska to have no issues with this game. That being said, be careful of laying too big a number in this spot as Troy is well coached and will be capable, despite its personnel losses.
Week #4 is a road game against Michigan. Michigan is an elite team. Their defense is stifling. We expect a Freshman quarterback to really struggle against the Wolverines and the Wolverines to feast on a below average Nebraska defense. Michigan should win by 2 to 3 touchdowns.
Week #5 is a home game against Purdue. Purdue is a middle of the road Big Ten team that is very inconsistent offensively and loses a lot of personnel defensively. We expect Nebraska to be slightly better, but would not want to lay more than a touchdown in this game.