2019 Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
Last year Scott Frost arrived in Nebraska as the savior. A star player at the school in his day, Frost had coached the lights out at UCF and faced massive expectations returning home to fix a Nebraska program that had fallen way off the tracks over many years of struggles - pretty much since Frost was a player. Things started poorly for the coach, and he had a massive hole to help the program to climb out of. But the second half of the season showed a fair bit of promise and gave the team a lot to build on. And now expectations are much higher in Frost's second year. If anyone can live up to them, it is Frost - a truly great coach. But it isn't going to be easy.
2018 in a Nutshell
It was a season in two parts. The first six games were pretty ugly. Combining acceptable losses at Michigan, Wisconsin and Northwestern - the latter in overtime - with ugly home losses to Colorado, Troy (ouch!) and Purdue. But something clicked in that overtime game in Evanston, and they were an entirely different team after that. They beat up on Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman. Then they went to Ohio State and somehow lost by only five. They laid the boots to Illinois before squeaking past Michigan State in an ugly game. They lost their final game at Iowa, but only by a field goal. If the first half of the season showed how much work Frost had to do, the second half showed how capable he is of doing it.
Key Additions and Departures
The team didn't lose a single player in the NFL Draft, which is a sad reflection of how poorly the team had been recruiting for years. As can be expected in a new program undergoing such radical change, they have seen a lot of players transferring out - 10 this year. Not a single one rocks the boat in any real way, though. There were a couple of losses that will be felt, though. Receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. graduated. Here is a stat that should blow your mind given the long and proud history of this program - last year Morgan became the first 1,000-yard receiver in school history. Devine Ozigbo also was the first running back to top 1,000 yards since 2014. And Linebacker Luke Gifford led the team in the key pressure stats. None were superstars that leave gaping holes, but in a rebuild like this one it would be nice to have another year with any of them.
Frost will improve recruiting as he goes and has more of a track record to rally players around. He moved forward this year, landing the 18 th-ranked class nationally - up from 23rd in his first year. Top recruit Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky's Mr. Football, could see time lining up at receiver or running back to maximize his talent. He averaged 11 yards per carry in high school. There will be opportunities for him and many other redshirt and true freshmen to break through and earn playing time in this program right now.
Biggest Area of Concern
Depth. They have some nice players, but they don't yet have the luxury of being able to go to the next man off without fearing a massive drop off like top programs do. That problem is most striking at quarterback. Adrian Martinez was very impressive as a freshman last year and has a very bright future under Frost. But if he were to get hurt then things would get really ugly in a hurry. The offensive line is very short on proven players and will likely be a patchwork, too - which won't help Martinez stay healthy.
Nebraska Cornhuskers Schedule Analysis
It's a very good bet that Frost won't start 0-6 again this year. In fact, he should match his win total from last year in the first four games - South Alabama, Colorado, Northern Illinois and Illinois should all be outmatched by even the partly-built machine that Frost is assembling. Then they host Ohio State and Northwestern - with a statement much more likely to be made in the latter than the former. The back half is mostly soft as well, with trips to Minnesota and Purdue sandwiching a home game against Indiana. Down the stretch they host Wisconsin, visit Maryland, and host Iowa. If Frost has his team ready to take a big leap forward, then the floor here could be as high as seven or eight games, with a ceiling of double-digit wins if everything falls into place. There are certainly much, much tougher schedules out there.
2019-20 Nebraska Cornhuskers Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has Nebraska at +4000 to win a national title, which puts them behind 13 teams and ties them with Utah. That feels way too optimistic, but I am fine with giving the program some respect. They are the fourth choice to win the Big Ten at Bovada at +1300, just behind Penn State, and miles back of favorites Ohio State and Michigan. Martinez is viewed as a very viable Heisman contender - he is the fourth choice at +1000, trailing only favorites Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence at +250 and +300, respectively, and Jalen Hurts, now with the Oklahoma Heisman factory, at +800. That's some pretty impressive company for a guy with four career wins - the other three all have national titles.
2019-20 Nebraska Cornhuskers Predictions and College Football Picks
I am a big believer in Frost and expect him to take a step forward. They aren't nearly ready to contend yet, but the Big Ten West is very weak this year, so surely Frost's goal is to make the Big Ten title game. And I think he can. Last year Northwestern won the division at 8-1, but it shouldn't take that many wins this year. There are six very likely conference wins. If they win all those and at least one of the other three they should be fine. And what a turnaround that would be.
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