Husker Dan: Three pivotal games for NU in 2018
Conventional wisdom (i.e. preseason sports commentators) seem to think Nebraska will win about six regular season games. Husker hopefuls, however, are dreaming of bigger and better things. Maybe even eight or nine wins.
Suffice it to say that in this rebuilding year, with so many uncertainties every game is going to be critical for the Huskers this fall.
And to be sure, there are some uncertainties that can’t be ignored.
1.) Within a span of three years, the Husker football program has another all new coaching staff who will have to be assimilated.
2.) New offensive and defensive schemes will have to be installed and mastered.
3.) There are at least 51 new players into the program.
4.) Scott Frost has been a head coach for only two years and one of those years ended with a losing (6-7) record.
5.) The 2018 Husker schedule is one of the most difficult in the nation and includes road games at Michigan, East favorite Ohio State and West favorite Wisconsin.
7.) The Huskers will enter the season with a QB who’s never started a game.
8.) This is Coach Frost’s first Power Five head coaching stint.
9.) So far, many so-called “experts” pick NU to finish fourth in the B1G West.
10.) It’s true that Frost’s 2017 Central Florida team went undefeated and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, but can Frost’s staff win in a Power Five Conference?
With so much uncertainty going into this fall, every game is going to be critical. Lose to a non-con opponent or a very beatable conference foe and the Huskers could find themselves behind the 8 ball.
That’s why I think Nebraska will have at lease three pivotal games this fall. And notice I didn’t say they were “must win” games. It’s way too early for that. These games are ones that if the Huskers win any of them, it could be a huge boost to Scott Frost’s young Husker football program.
As I said, every game is going to be critical this fall, but I think Nebraska is good enough to enter conference play at 3-0. It’s what comes afterward that will be critical for the 2018 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
PIVOTAL GAME #1
@MICHIGAN September 22nd
If Scott Frost’s first team at Nebraska can win this game (ala Bob Devaney’s first year at NU), the college football world has to look at NU and Scott Frost in an entirely different light. It will be a tall task to win at Ann Arbor, but if the Men In Red can pull off an upset, look out.
A win would likely put NU at 4-0. But if the Huskers lose the game, they’ll still be a respectful 3-1.
Next up is Purdue at home. This is a winnable game for Nebraska. At 4-1, fans would be feeling pretty good. (BTW, the four wins would equal the 2017 win total with seven games to go.)
Next up is @Wisconsin. This will be most likely a loss for the 4-2 Huskers. And after that, the Huskers could rebound @ Northwestern. NU has had more success at Evanston than in Lincoln. After the NW game, Nebraska could stand at 5-2. Not bad.
The Huskers should win at home in a revenge match with the Minnesota Rodents. That puts Nebraska at 6-2 and becomes bowl eligible.
After a bye week, the Huskers travel to Columbus, Ohio where reality rears its ugly head. Nebraska comes down to earth and leaves Columbus with a 6-3 record.
Illinois comes to Lincoln on November 10th for Nebraska’s 10th game of the season. With a win, the Huskers could stand at 7-3.
PIVOTAL GAME #2
MICHIGAN STATE @home November 17th
The Huskers will be facing perhaps the best QB (Brian Lewerke) they’ll face in the regular season. What a great opportunity for Nebraska, Scott Frost and the Husker fans! If all goes well, Nebraska could come into that game at 7-3. A loss would put NU at 7-4 (no shame in losing to a really good Sparty team). But a win would blow the roof off Memorial Stadium (I know there’s no roof there, but you get my drift). A win could put the Huskers at 8-3. The state of Nebraska and the city of Lincoln would be rockin’ after such a win.
PIVOTAL GAME #3
@IOWA November 23rd
The Hawkeyes have had their way the past three years with Nebraska including a couple of blowout wins at the expense of some out of shape, poorly coached Husker teams. A great way to end Scott Frost’s first regular season at Nebraska would be for a Husker win at Iowa City. Again, this game is probably not a “must win” game for the Huskers, but beating your so-called rival and finishing with a 9 win season could be huge for Nebraska’s recruiting and, of course, the Husker fan base.
And with 9 wins, the Huskers could find themselves playing in a very good bowl game. And who knows what the impact of a 9 or 10 win season would mean to Scott Frost’s first year at Nebraska?
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net