Tuesday, July 31, 2007

NU Pre-View:Nebraska Football 2007

It's almost here, and time now to start fearlessly prognosticating. I will start with NU, and work my way out from here.

2007

NEVADA - Not the most comfortable opening game, particularly for a new quarterback. But the Wolf Pack aren't the same bowl team as last year, and NU's defense should be enough to contain the Pistol offense. WIN.

@ WAKE FOREST - Scary, scary game. Before going game-by-game, I had thought that Nebraska would drop one road game that they probably shouldn't. This game could definitely fall into that category. But NU also gets a huge break, playing the ACC champion from last year with a talent level that doesn't match up with Nebraska's. It could be a problem, but I don't think it will be a problem. WIN.

USC - The atmosphere in Lincoln should be electric for this game. The Trojans may be the best team coming into Lincoln in twenty years. Getting this game would be a turning point, a defining moment in Bill Callahan's tenure, a springboard to greater things. But, it ain't going to happen. USC has way too much defense for NU to score enough to keep up. In a low-scoring game ... LOSS.

BALL STATE - The Cardinals went into Ann Arbor last year and gave Michigan quite a scare last year. Don't hold your breath. This is a get-well game after USC. WIN.

IOWA STATE - The Gene Chizek era begins for the Cyclones. ISU's defense should be much improved, and I would suspect we will see more of a Texas-style spread option attack that fits Bret Meyer's skill set a lot better than whatever Dan McCarney was trying to run. ISU gave Nebraska a scare in Lincoln last time, but the talent train has run in opposite directions for these two programs. WIN.

@ MISSOURI - The Big XII North Championship game. All the signs point poorly for Nebraska. It's a big, road, conference game. Not exactly Callahan's strength lately. But the talent is at least even (I would give NU an advantage, slightly), and Mizzou's defense will struggle containing Keller and Co. Plus, and most importantly, for as bad as Callahan may be in big games, don't forget Gary Pinkel is the guy on the other sideline. WIN.

OKLAHOMA STATE - The Cowboys are a team on the come in the South. But this game is in Lincoln, and payback's a bitch for last year. WIN.

TEXAS A&M - Dennis Franchione must be thrilled that Pinkel is still employed at Missouri, so he doesn't bear the "biggest underachiever" label in the conference. The Aggies have a stout running game, but Nebraska is the better talent, and is at home. WIN.

@ TEXAS - This one is so ripe for Nebraska's picking. The Longhorns aren't what they've been. God bless Colt McCoy (a Colt for QB at Texas makes sense ... but at Hawai'i?), but he's not Vince Young. This is Nebraska's best shot to take the next step in their program, but until I see Callahan win a game like this against top-quality talent (aTm last year does NOT count as top talent) I can't call it. LOSS.

@ KANSAS - Complete trap game. Win or loss against the Longhorns, going to Lawrence the week afterwards is no treat. If you're looking for the loss that Nebraska shouldn't have on its' record at the end of the year but does, if it's not Wake it's here. But the thriller against the Jayhawks last year, and the memory of the debacle in Lawrence two years ago, should be enough to keep a superior NU team locked in enough. WIN.

KANSAS STATE - I really like Ron Prince, except that he coaches the Purples. And I really can't wait to see Josh Freeman's inaugural appearance in Memorial Stadium. (I can hear it going back and forth from the East and West seats ... PRIMA ... DONNA ...) Prince is a good coach and will get the Purples good. But not yet. WIN.

@ COLORADO - I thought Dan Hawkins was a great hire for CU when they brought him in to replace Gary Barnett. Now, it's looking like it may be a great hire ... for everyone else in the North. I think the Buffaloes are going to continue their struggles under Hawkins' weirdness. WIN.

I am not at all convinced that, overall, Nebraska is really the 10-2 team that I've put them at. There's traps all over the place, and Nebraska's history under Callahan of coming up small against the big boys terrifies me. But the schedule, while very difficult, does play out well for Nebraska. This prognostication puts them in the Big XII Championship game again, most likely against Oklahoma. I would give them a LOSS to the Sooners, and put them in the Holiday Bowl against a team like California, which NU should WIN with the additions of offensive talent this year. That ends the season at 12-3, and what should be a top-ten finish to the season.

Nebraska is knocking on the door of national relevance and BCS contention, but I believe they are still a year away. This is a year of incremental progress and movement towards elite status, but I don't see it happening this year. A win over Texas or, especially, USC, along with holding serve on games they should win could accelerate that progress.

GBR, baby.

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