The Nebraska Cornhuskers are on a roll

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The Nebraska Cornhuskers, the team of the 90’s who won 3 National Titles under legendary coach Tom Osborne are back in the news again with a Top 8 ranking after a long absence from the college football conversation as one of the top programs in the country. Like the Alabama of today, the Huskers dominated team’s year after year in the 90’s, and when they lost talent to graduation, they simply reloaded and it was business as usual the following season. Lincoln was a feared place to play, Big 8 titles came with ease in the 80’s and Big 12 title games were the norm against Texas or Oklahoma every year. Times have changed and it has been a rough go for die hard Husker Nation, and I say that with credit-ability, because I am an alum and avid Husker fan, but I am also a realist.

After a bevy of coaches have come and gone since Osborne, Frank Solich who was fired a year removed from a national title game and a 9-win season, Bill Callahan came and went after a failed experiment of an NFL coach to take over, and then Bo Pelini who was ran out of town on a railcar with a new AD, the Huskers finally settled on long term Oregon State coach Mike Riley to head the program out of the Pelini era into a new one. It has not been a smooth ride but here the Huskers are, one of the few unbeaten teams left in College Football. The problem is the schedule that remains and the struggles to date to remain undefeated, included a nail biter against Indiana last week.

The simple math is hard to argue, while others have fallen Nebraska remains undefeated and they will be undefeated after this weekend with lowly Purdue in town, who fired their coach last Sunday, who Nebraska has had circled on the schedule ever since the Huskers lost in a huge upset last year to and gave up 55 points on defense, and I fully expect a blowout in Lincoln this week in payback mode.

The issue is because NU is undefeated, pollsters have them ranked inside the Top 10 this week, and the only signature win is a 3 point win over Oregon in Lincoln, and quite frankly Oregon is a .500 ball club who has been hammered by good teams all year including Washington hanging 70 on them in Eugene this year. It should be noted that when it comes to the polls and rankings, they have nothing to do with power ratings used by oddsmakers and handicappers when selecting point spread winners.

My power rating has Nebraska ranked 22nd in the NCAA, not 8th. LSU who is a 2 loss team I have ranked 8th in my power ratings as an example. Other 2 loss teams I have ranked in from of unbeaten Nebraska are Oklahoma, Auburn, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Miami, and Washington State. How about 1 loss teams ranked in front of #8 Nebraska, like Louisville who would beat Nebraska by 14+ points in my opinion, or Florida, or perhaps an unbeaten Western Michigan, all ranked in front of the Huskers.

My point is simple, do not base any type of Las Vegas Angle type of action on a team based on polls you see in USA Today, because Nebraska will be 7-0 this week and may very well move up in the polls yet again after a blowout over Purdue in Lincoln, in revenge mode with Purdue limping into town. The good news is Huskers fans will have a bowl to go to, and bear in mind Nebraska was a 5-win team last year that got to a bowl game and beat UCLA. That game gave them momentum and recruiting has been better for NU for the future, but for now with a defense that is pedestrian at best, and an inconsistent but good QB in Tommy Armstrong, and a bevy of RB’s than can pound out yards.

Nebraska is a nice story but one that will end with 3 losses before it is all said and done, with a road trip to Madison Wisconsin looming large for them next week and the following week a trip to Columbus Ohio to get destroyed by Ohio State. In other words, do not lend credence to the ranking after this week. As a huge Husker fan I would like to see them win the next three weeks in a row and be the surprise team of 2016, it simply will not happen.

Written by Tony George of VegasTopDogs

2016 Big 10 College Football Preview

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Big 10 EAST

1 – OHIO STATE – Are we really going anywhere else here? Urban Meyer is an unbelievable 31-1 in regular season Big 10 play. How can we go against him? I mean, I get he has 3 returning starters on both sides of the ball. But until I see otherwise, Buckeyes get the call.

2 – MICHIGAN – Jim Harbaugh returns 14 starters and is looking to knock off Ohio State. The schedule is a tough one. At Michigan State. At Iowa. They are on the road to end things at the Big House. That should decide who wins the Big 10 and goes to the playoffs.

3 – MICHIGAN STATE – Mark D’Antonio only has 10 starters back and lost his big QB who led the troops. I think they can’t repeat a 12 win season. But the drop off will be there. Besides the 2 teams above them, Penn State is really the only team now, or a year from now, away from moving to the upper levels here. We know the defense will be stout and the run game will look to take pressure off a new QB.

4 – PENN STATE – Another nice recruiting class to add more depth here. They lose an underachieving QB, but still return 9 starters on offense (6 def). HC James Franklin is building back this program. But they are not ready to compete with the big boys yet.

5 – MARYLAND – Another new HC as DJ Durkin takes control of the Terps. This is a pretty experienced coaching staff, so I think they can reach the troops and get them out to a fast start. 4-0 looks possible and if the pull off a road win at Penn State, I can see them at 6-0 before facing Michigan State. I think these guys go bowling and rebound nicely from a 3 win season.

6 – RUTGERS – Scarlet Knights bring 16 starters back (9 off 7 def) and our looking at a fresh start with new HC Chris Ash. This team has some talent and I think the new direction will have these players motivated to overachieve as they have done in the past. Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan b2b2b is surely 0-3 and probably gets ugly. It will take a little luck and an upset or 2 for a bowl bid.

7 – INDIANA – I think Kevin Wilson has his work cut out for him here. When you lose your QB and RB to the NFL and you are a team that was 6-7 last year, you are in for growing pains. Look. I thought this team would be bowling last year. They improved in wins along the way. 6 wins can be reached if they get some good QB play.

Big 10 WEST

1 – IOWA – After going 12-0 the Hawkeyes look to rebound after losing the Big 10 Championship to Michigan St and getting slaughtered by Stanford in the Rose Bowl. This isn’t a sexy group, but does return 8 starters on defense, 5 on offense. Having a senior QB should make 5 Big 10 road manageable, especially since none had winning seasons at home LY. I can’t see another undefeated regular season, but I think they win the west.

2 – NEBRASKA – If anyone is going to rise to to top here and overtake Iowa, the Cornhuskers are my favorite. Look. they were disappointing last year in Mike Riley’s first season. They lost 5 games in the final seconds. They could have easily been 11-2! Woulda coulda shoulda, but a coach like Riley will have his guys build on those losses. 2nd year of the new schemes. They were better than their record last year. I won’t be shocked to see them represent the west in the Championship Game.

3 – NORTHWESTERN – I think they overachieved a bit last year and I can’t see them winning 10 games again. I think they are a hair better than Wiscy because of their defense. They need to be at worse 3-1 entering October because there are 3 losses waiting for them in Iowa, OSU and Michigan State.

4 – WISCONSIN – The schedule is brutal here. Opening against LSU. Then a 4 game stretch of at Michigan State and Michigan, home for Ohio State, road game at Iowa. They were 10-3 last year and could easily be 2-5 in October.

5 – ILLINOIS – Giving Lovie Smith the 5 spot here. He has some decent pieces back at QB and RB and 7 starters back on offense. The D has only 4 starters back so that can be a problem. I just think the new direction will infuse some excitement into the program. The kids will be run through walls for an NFL guy who I am sure is promising to get them ready for the next level.

6 – MINNESOTA – These guys were 5-7 last year and went bowling! Thank you NCAA for watering down the post season. 13 returning starters and that bowl win will have the Gophers with some pep in their step. No Ohio State or Michigan on the schedule. Might get the bowling shoes ready.

7 – PURDUE – All you need to know about the Boilermakers is this. Under HC Darrell Hazell they are now 2-22 in Big 10 play. 8 starters back on both sides of the ball. Does that even matter. They were 2-10 last year. The guy never sticks to a QB. Hot seat? How about absolutely on FIRE. Maybe they steal a game somewhere. But I won’t be shocked if their only win is over Eastern Kentucky.

 

Written by Sean Higgs as he is ready to tackle Big 10 Football!  Be sure to check back daily for other College Football Conference Previews