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Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Preview: Predicting the 2015 season

We’ve come to the end of the road in our preview series for the 2015 version of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football program. A new era has some excited, many nervous, but everyone wanting to tune in and see what happens.

Anything less than a nine win season? Many will likely turn the screws quickly on new head coach Mike Riley. Will the 2015 schedule help him make a quick transition and elevate this program?

Other Big Ten Predictions:
WestIowa | Northwestern | Minnesota | Illinois
EastMichigan | Rutgers | Penn State

Per usual, our staff experts Andy and Dave take a crack at predicting the entire 2015 schedule game-by-game of course. So, lets see how they see the Huskers shaping up this upcoming season.

2015 Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time/TV Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 5
Cougars BYU Cougars
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
2:30 p.m. CT
ABC
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 12
Jaguars South Alabama Jaguars
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
7:00 p.m. CT
BTN/BTN2Go
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 19
Hurricanes at Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
2:30 p.m. CT
ABC/ESPN2 (RM)
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sep. 26
Golden Eagles Southern Miss Golden Eagles (HC)
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
11:00 a.m. CT
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 3
Fighting Illini at Illinois Fighting Illini
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 10
Badgers Wisconsin Badgers
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 17
Gophers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 24
Wildcats Northwestern Wildcats
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 31
Boilermakers at Purdue Boilermakers
Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 7
Spartans Michigan State Spartans
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
6 or 7 p.m. CT
ABC/ESPN/2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 14
Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 21
Open Date
Friday
Nov. 27
Hawkeyes Iowa Hawkeyes
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Dec. 5
Big Ten Big Ten Championship Game
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
7:00 p.m. CT
FOX
Buy
Tickets

 

*All commentary to follow is courtesy of Andy (picks by Andy and Dave as usual).

vs. BYU
Andy — Win
Dave — Loss

The Mike Riley era gets off to a tricky start against a BYU squad that is dangerous and underrated coming in to the season. BYU’s backfield tandem of Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams is a dangerous one, and Nebraska’s defense is going to get tested. On my end I just see the Huskers defense as being too good and the offense just good enough to squeak by in a close affair to open the new era.

vs. South Alabama
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

Don’t sleep on the Jaguars, they were a bowl team in 2015 (even if that has less and less meaning every year). This would’ve been a really easy pick for me, and it still kind of was, had UAB not cancelled its football program and dropped senior quarterback Cody Clements right in the lap of South Alabama. He’s a significant upgrade over Brandon Bringe, who graduated. Unfortunately for South Alabama, the talent gap on defense to Nebraska’s offense kills them. Look for the Huskers to win big here.

at Miami (FL)
Andy — Loss
Dave — Win

Get used to this, because Dave and myself disagree the most on this schedule than anyone we’ve done so far. Road non-conference games and the Big Ten usually don’t go hand-in-hand and that’s why I’m predicting a loss here. Additionally, I think the Hurricanes are actually going to be better by subtraction in 2015 and that makes them a dangerous team. Losing Duke Johnson hurts for sure, but they have a rising QB star in sophomore Brad Kaaya and plenty of intriguing young talent all over the roster. Miami gets some of its luster back with a big home win here.

vs. Southern Miss
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

Some will tell you coaching matters little, it’s really all about the players. If ever there was an example of just how much coaching truly matters, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles are it. Since Larry Fedora left to become the head coach at UNC this program has tanked in a major way. Nebraska has a massive cupcake after some tough opposition to open non-conference play. Chalk this one up as an easy win. After all, Nebraska won 56-13 in the last meeting in 2013 and this group isn’t much better (if at all).

at Illinois
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

The Illini offense gave me a bit of pause in this contest, then I looked at a Huskers secondary that should be able to keep Geronimo Allison from killing it. As long as that happens, look for the Huskers offense to do some major damage up front and control this game on the ground before opening up the passing game too.

vs. Wisconsin
Andy — Loss
Dave — Loss

I’m surprised to see agreement here on what is likely to be the biggest game in the Big Ten West this season (and for the foreseeable future). So, why pick against the Huskers at home? Call it a program thing or whatever you want, but the Badgers seem to have an answer for nearly everything that the Huskers through at them. If it weren’t for Joel Stave being knocked out in the 2013 contest in Lincoln, we’re likely looking at a UW team that has never lost to the Huskers since they joined the Big Ten. Wisconsin wins this one as Stave outduels Armstrong for the win in an unexpected QB shootout.

at Minnesota
Andy — Loss
Dave — Win

Was last season a fluke or a sign that Minnesota was climbing up the ladder in the Big Ten West? That’s the question I’ve struggled with all offseason, as the Gophers won 28-24 last season in Minneapolis. Home field advantage helps, but these two teams like to slug it out and if that happens again in 2015 it will be the Gophers bringing back the “Bits of Broken Wood” trophy to TCF Bank stadium thanks to a defense that is simply better. Don’t be surprised if I’m right or wrong on this one, as its the least confident in a pick I’ve made all offseason.

vs. Northwestern
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

If there’s a team with a bigger question mark at quarterback than Northwestern in the West division please show it to me. At least Purdue has players that have started to work with. Either way, throw records and assumptions out when these two get together — at least during the Pelini era. Something crazy and strange usually has happened when the Huskers and Wildcats meet. Don’t expect that to carry on in the new era, as Riley’s crew takes care of business against Northwestern. No Hail Mary needed here.

at Purdue
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

So, about that team with no quarterback…Purdue is up next, and road trips to West Lafayette aren’t always easy, except they will be this time around. If I’m right about the Boilermakers this is a team that could be beat down and looking for a new head coach by this time of the season. Nebraska picks the final pieces apart and wins big on the road in hopes of keeping pace in the West division title race.

vs. Michigan State
Andy — Loss
Dave — Loss

Nebraska will need that big win over Purdue, because outside of Wisconsin there isn’t a more challenging opponent on the slate for this team. Last season the Huskers came the closest of any team in the Big Ten not named Ohio State to beating MSU. This season the pieces aren’t the same and everything is different. It was tempting to see an upset pick here, but in the end I don’t bet against Connor Cook in big game situations very often. It isn’t going to happen this time either. Look for the Huskers to keep it close until MSU’s defense turns up the volume in the 4th quarter and wins this game for them.

at Rutgers
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

A trip to Piscataway, New Jersey this late in the season could be a tricky proposition. However, the gap between Nebraska and Rutgers in terms of talent and depth of that talent is still pretty gapping. While the Scarlet Knights aren’t a pushover in general, they also aren’t close to competing with title contenders like Nebraska either. This one could get ugly for the home team.

vs. Iowa
Andy — Win
Dave — Win

The annual Black Friday matchup for the Heroes Trophy has been an interesting one. Let’s just say the fans don’t like the name or the trophy much and there hasn’t been a lot of real intensity in the matchup overall. That changed last season thanks to the Huskers dramatic 37-34 win in Iowa City. A bubbling dislike has begun, but with a new coaching staff in Lincoln will that really matter much? Look for the Huskers to win at home in a game that could mean the difference between Kirk Ferentz having a job or being out of one. That should be motivation enough for the Huskers to finish off the season on a high note.

Nebraska’s 2015 Final Record/Big Ten Finish:

Andy: 8-4 (4-4)/3rd in Big Ten West
Dave: 9-3 (6-2)/2nd in Big Ten West

Our Predicted 2015 Big Ten Standings: 

West:
1.
2. Minnesota Gophers (Andy)/Nebraska Cornhuskers (Dave)
3. Iowa Hawkeyes (Dave)/Nebraska Cornhuskers (Andy)
4. Iowa Hawkeyes (Andy)/ Minnesota Gophers (Dave)
5. Illinois Fighting Illini (Dave)/Northwestern (Andy)
6. Northwestern (Dave)/Illinois (Andy)
7.

East:
1.
2.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (Andy/Dave)
4. Michigan Wolverines (Andy/Dave)
5.
6.
7. Rutgers (Andy/Dave)

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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