The 2008 Game by Game Preview Column
Anyway..to go with the hate inducing hissy fit that you people threw with my official North prediction a few weeks ago, behold my game by game preview for your upcoming season. For some of you, this may be difficult to swallow. (Perhaps you should be an NU wrestler?) However, as I stated in the previous prediction column...you really need to see what reality looks like. There is no way to sugarcoat it. There is no way to make it pretty. Just honest, harsh reality.
You've been warned and I take no responsibility for your upcoming stroke.
Week 1 – Vs. Western Michigan
Probable odds: Nebraska (-15 to -19)
Probable excuses: First game of the Bo era, “it’s early”
What may happen: The last time a lower tier MAC program strolled into Memorial Stadium, a spunky Ball State program nearly waltzed out with a victory. Pretty amazing to think the panic and mayhem that would have broken out around here had that guy actually CAUGHT the ball that hit him in the facemask with under :30 to play. But alas, the Big Red hung on, and yet another MAC team bit the dust. With that in mind, remember the name Jamarko Simmons. Before struggling with injuries, dude had games of 14 catches for 144 yards, 14 catches for 158 yards and 10 catches for 98 yards. Oh, and that wasn’t against MAC teams, that was 3 bowl teams in West Virginia, Indiana and Missouri. But you’re better than those three right?
What will happen: SURELY you can beat a team that finished 68th in the nation in total defense right? I mean, sure they gave up 34 or more points 5 times…but the entire defense is back and insiders in Kalamazoo are cautiously optimistic that they have one of the MAC’s best. Regardless, surely Bo, Barney and company will have your fans in a frenzy as the lamest and whitest tradition in football…the thrown bones…will continue. Surely right? Right?
Official BEL prediction: Nebraska 31 Western Michigan 23
Week 2 – Vs. San Jose State
Probable odds: Nebraska (-11 to -14)
Probable excuses: “Noncon games don’t count”, “SJSU uniforms too ugly to concentrate”.
What may happen: I’m not going to lie to you guys…the Spartans lost a lot of players from a fairly bad team last year. Oh sure, they nearly beat Hawaii and finished their year winning 2 of 3…but come on; even YOU guys beat Nevada. They do have a nice wide out in Kevin Jurovich and one of the conferences best DB’s in Coye Francies….but still. Bo’s 3 page offensive playbook should be starting to cement into your players brains by this time, and the chance of your egos flying out of control starting 2-0 becomes a very real possibility.
What will happen: Granted, you led MAINE by one score late in the 4th quarter during Bill Callahan’s first season…I don’t expect too much trouble for the Hicks here. SJSU struggled on the road last year, and I don’t really see the sight of 85,000 soybean farmers in the same t-shirt as something that will buck that trend. Soak it up folks…because right about here…you’ll be feeling pretty good about yourselves.
Official BEL prediction: Nebraska 41 San Jose State 21
Week 3 – Vs. New Mexico State
Probable Odds: Nebraska (-21 to -24)
Probable excuses: Thinking about Va Tech, ____ player arrested, “Still learning Bo’s system”.
What may happen: Nebraska’s march through the WAC conference continues with an easy win. The Aggies aren’t exactly juggernauts, but do have actual uniforms, coaches and travel by airplane. (I think) Granted playing a team around your own skill level will be fun, I really would be shocked if the “Marlon Lucky” for Heisman bandwagon isn’t rolling full-steam downhill by the end of this one. (Much like Kevin Kuglar’s 1 week campaign last season after the Nevada win.)
What will happen: Remember how bad I said San Jose was? Yeah, NMSU lost to them 51-17 and don’t return nearly as many players. You lose this one, there won’t be a nuclear bomb…the universe will cease to exist, as the galaxy implodes upon itself into a small ball of black nothingness.
Official BEL prediction: Nebraska 45 New Mexico State 13
Week 4 – Vs. Virginia Tech
Probable odds: Virginia Tech (-7 to -10)
Probable excuses: The color orange, thinking about Big 12 play. Refs love the ACC
What may happen: Normally I would completely write off an alleged “National Power” after a pathetic performance against mediocre Kansas on National TV (worst Orange Bowl TV ratings in history btw). However, how good is their offense going to be when they kick off one of their best offensive weapons and have to replace all of your best wide receivers? Sean Glennon is a senior, and having an experienced guy back there surly will help, but when you have ZERO offensive weapons back from a team that struggled on offense, you know you’re in trouble. On the other side, the defense isn’t much better..losing most of their D-linemen and their best linebacker.
What will happen: This is still the defending ACC champions, and you gave up 76 points to Kansas. Granted, I don’t see this as being some kind of blowout, you’re still looking at a team with an experienced guy under center, and some decent talent on the defensive side of the ball. Virginia Tech isn’t anywhere NEAR the power they once were, and this could be their worst team in years. But let’s face it…Joey Ganz is your quarterback and Okie State destroyed you in 20 minutes last season. Maybe in another lifetime..but not this year.
Official BEL prediction: Virginia Tech 27 Nebraska 14
Week 5 – Vs. Missouri
Probable odds: Missouri (-15 to -19)
Probable excuses: Unlimited
What may happen: There is a very good chance that October 4th will see the largest home underdog in Memorial Stadium history. After last season’s nuclear blast, the hicks will be out in force and looking for payback. But when rooting behind a first year starter and a brand new scheme…how much success are you really banking on when playing a Heisman finalist and one of the best all-purpose runners in the last 10 years? I could see the Hicks getting an early score, and the joint…as it does once every 5-10 years or so…get pretty loud. But in the end, talent always trumps “trying hard” and this is no exception.
What will happen: Every Missouri fan I know can picture the wheels coming off in Lincoln. We’ve seen it in 1998 when the better team didn’t win. (You had MONTE CRISTO for Christ’s sake playing). We saw it in 2004. We saw it in 2006. And we certainly all know this is the last major hurdle for Mizzou to leap short of a conference championship. However, all that happened before games against Colorado and Kansas State last season. The whole “woe is us” attitude is pretty much gone (no matter what Tom Shatel wrote in the paper this morning) and talent alone should be the factor here. Let’s be real here…with the talent gap and hell…even the coaching gap that is in place today between the two teams…it would take God himself to knock a ball off of some dude’s feet into the hands of some other dude who was 100 feet away from the play. And that would be just silly.
Official BEL prediction: Missouri 48 Nebraska 17
Week 6 – At Texas Tech
Probable odds: Texas Tech (-31 to -36.5)
Probable excuses: “Nobody wins at Tech”, still mad at Mizzou fans
What may happen: You could have seven turnovers and get blasted up the ass again by 60 points on National television. But who am I kidding? That could never happen to a National power such as yourself. This isn’t like you’re breaking in a brand new coach again like you were…uhh..in…uhh….back in...uhhh. Nevermind.
What will happen: Have you seen what Tech has coming back? Have you seen how God-awful you are at stopping Ball State’s offense..let alone the #1 offense in the country the past few years? IN Lubbock? Seriously…what’s the worst that could happen?
Official BEL prediction: Texas Tech 73 Nebraska 14
Week 7 – At Iowa State
Probable odds: Pick em to Iowa State (-1.5 to -3)
Probable excuses: ISU is a great team. Fire Bo, Refs
What may happen: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Iowa State isn’t NEARLY as bad as you people think they are. They played the North and Champs tough last season, and beat the 3rd and 4th best teams in the North last season. Give a new coach a second season to put his guys together, and you’ve some hope. This team averaged 28 or more points in 3 of their last 4 games…and let’s face it; You aren’t exactly the ’78 Steelers out there.
What will happen: Iowa State is going to want to put the wood to you to climb out of the North cellar. Couple that with lopsided losses the previous two weeks, and you can see the “upset” (in name only) brewing a mile away. Don’t say I didn’t warn you way back in August that Iowa State is going to kick you in the forehead as you fall helplessly down the ladder…suddenly stopping at rock flipping bottom.
Official BEL prediction: Iowa State 27 Nebraska 21
Week 8 – Vs. Baylor
Probable odds: Nebraska (-4.5 to -8)
Probable excuses: “Baylor has really improved”, Steve Pederson still meddling.
What may happen: Baylor…a year behind Iowa State, is breaking in a new coach while trying to change an entire school’s mindset. Unfortunately for them, the Bears kept getting worse last year…while the Clones improved all the way til a big ole flop on National TV against fluky KU. However, even as close as these two teams are on paper, I can’t imagine you losing to a team that finished 112th in the nation in total defense. But then again…that’s two spots better than….you were.
What will happen: As bad as going 5-7 was…as bad as going 4-8 will be…as bad as ALL of those things combined…losing to Baylor would be the quintessential bottom of the barrel moment for all of you. Oh sure, you were pounded by Kansas, Okie State and Texas A&M last season; but at least those teams had SOME semblance of talent. I’m sure there will be more than a few of you who can not possibly fathom losing to the lowly Bears…but mind you, it could happen. I just don’t think your luck is quite that bad.
Official BEL prediction: Nebraska 36 Baylor 21
Week 9 – At. Oklahoma
Probable odds: Oklahoma (-41 to -43.5)
Probable excuses: “Nobody has beaten OU in 53 years.” OU fans are so great, we just gave them the win.”
What may happen: You could lose by 400 points. Seriously…as good as Tech and Mizzou are talent wise this year…Oklahoma has them both beat AND hasn’t been in awe of you since the early 70’s. Even though Mack Brown and Pete Carroll let up on the gas last season…Bob Stoops isn’t quite that nice. OU will be jockeying for National Title contention, and can’t afford to be jacking around with you for more than a quarter.
What will happen: This could be your worst loss of the season…which lets face it…is going to be saying something. I’m not sure..but I’m fairly confident that they are better than you at every single position. (Yes…even running back.) They’re fast at linebacker and Sam Bradford will be able to complete most passes while finishing a Daniel Silva novel. The question here is not whether or not you’ll be able to hang. It’s how pissed off you’ll be after the final whistle. (And my money is on apathy at this point.)
Official BEL prediction: Oklahoma 54 Nebraska 3
Week 10 – Vs. Kansas
Probable odds: Kansas (-9 to -12.5)
Probable excuses: Mangino greatest coach of all time. “ Hate Mizzou so much we want KU to catch them in the standings.”
What may happen: I’ve actually heard some Husker fans calling this game “a cakewalk” in anticipation for the KU bandwagon to come crashing down long before this point. That very well MAY be the case, but the fat man going up against a rookie hothead isn’t much of a challenge. KU may be a complete fraud and have about 35% of the talent their fans think…but they still have enough confidence and thick-headed density to walk into your stadium and walk out with a win.
What will happen: Many have forgotten, but KU nearly beat Bill Callahan’s North Champs in 2006. Had Todd Pederson’s fumble through the end zone been ruled correctly in OT…KU would have come away with their biggest win to that point, and a whole slew of new t-shirt designs to look lame in. Regardless, this will most likely be a do or die game for KU to stay in the hunt for a ½ decent bowl. In the end..it’s Mangino vs. Pelini, and I think even the most idiotic of you would have to know where to put your money here.
Official BEL prediction: Kansas 31 Nebraska 20
Week 11 – At. Kansas State
Probable odds: Kansas State (-3 to -7)
Probable excuses: “Fans are animals”, “Refs love Ron Prince”
What may happen: This was by far my most controversial pick in the North preview, simply because of the schizophrenic nature of the Wildcats. Needless to say KSU had their struggles last year..especially on defense (allowing 31 or more points to every team after October 13th who’s name WASN’T Baylor). However, this if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that the KSU fans hate your guts almost as much as I do. This will be their superbowl and perhaps a game to land bowl eligibility or even a decent trip to San Antonio.
What will happen: You win in Manhattan ONE time in 12 years and now it's a stroll through the park?? I know…hypocrite because of the Mizzou game…blah blah blah. But in that situation, this isn’t a case where the opponent has TONS of talent above your head. It should be a dogfight that comes down to emotion and focus. K-State will be coming off a killer stretch against Tech, A&M, Colorado, OU, KU and Mizzou. You’re going to look like the Millard North JV by the time you stroll into town. I see goalposts coming down…not the easy win many of you are banking on.
Official BEL prediction: Kansas State 35 Nebraska 24
Week 12 – Vs. Colorado
Probable odds: Colorado (-5.5 to -9)
Probable excuses: “Fire Bo now”, “Steve Pederson still meddling”
What may happen: The Buffs ran into the same sort of issues that KSU had late in the year in that their defense decided to take some time off. Granted they played fairly well in their bowl game and still beat your ass at home…the Buffs were far better than the final few games of their season made them appear. By the end of 2008, you’re looking at nearly 3 full years of Hawkins ball in Boulder, and my gut says they’re going to be rolling by the time they get there. The Buffs have some decent defensive talent to work on, and an two full weeks to prepare.
What will happen: Since KSU will knock you from Ft. Worth Bowl contention the week before, look for more empty seats than a Chilliwack reunion concert. The sights will already be looking to 2009, as Colorado looks to nail down a ½ decent bowl. Oh also…last time I checked…they didn’t much motivation against your sorry ass anyway. Would an NU win to end their sorry season shock me? Not really..but the improvement seen in CU and the inability for you to find any sort of playmaker whatsoever via free agency really doesn’t give me much hope for you.
Official BEL prediction: Colorado 24 Nebraska 23
Official BEL predicted record: 4-8
Official pissed off NU fans: 2.1 million
Hate mail to me prior to game 1? Unlimited
E-mails congratulating me on nailing your season again? : Zero