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Handley: 2016 Nebraska football season predictions

Handley: Nebraska football season predictions
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Posted at 9:54 AM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 10:54:37-04

The first season under Mike Riley had plenty of  memorable moments. Unfortunately many of those moments came down to heartache for Nebraska fans but few will forget the Michigan State upset victory or the bowl win over UCLA. So what has this coaching staff learned? What can we expect from a team that returns plenty of skill but has dealt with tragedy and off the field distractions? Lets take a look at what could unfold for Nebraska in 2016.

 

GAME 1: vs. Fresno State

Nebraska has a much more favorable matchup than a year ago. Look for the Big Red to set the tone early and run away against a Bulldog team that is simply overmatched. Sure there will be mistakes on both sides of the football but also expect some big plays by both units as well.

Nebraska 48  Fresno State 16

 

GAME 2: vs. Wyoming

The return of Craig Bohl might excite the fans to some extent but it will not play any significant role for the Cowboys. The real concern for NU is the "look ahead to Oregon" mentality. Huskers should be able to move the ball especially on the ground where Wyoming struggled mightily in 2015.

Nebraska 38  Wyoming 14

 

GAME 3: vs. Oregon

Are the Huskers ready for elite speed? The biggest challenge will be making consistent plays defensively and doing it in space. The Oregon defense was leaky at best in 2015, allowing nearly 40 points a game. So clearly we should expect a high-octane type affair at Memorial Stadium.

Oregon 38  Nebraska 34

 

GAME 4: @ Northwestern

These two teams often come down to the wire with the exception of the Huskers last visit to Evanston where NU rolled in the 2nd half. Nebraska's run defense better be up to the challenge against Justin Jackson. The Huskers always feel at home in Ryan Field and should do enough to bounce back.

Nebraska 31  Northwestern 23

 

GAME 5: vs. Illinois

Revenge! That is where is starts for Nebraska. It is highly unlikely that the Huskers will overlook a below average Illinois team. Lovie Smith will be searching for answers defensively and Wes Lunt lacks proven playmakers around him. It should be a very happy homecoming for NU.

Nebraska 40  Illinois 21

 

BYE

 

GAME 6: @ Indiana

An interesting trip to unfamiliar Bloomington could bring it's challenges but expect Husker fans to venture east to experience another Big Ten venue. Nebraska will have some resistance moving the ball against an improved defense but the Huskers bring more talent with them. The Hoosiers will be coming off of back-to-back games against Michigan State and Ohio State. This has the makings of an ugly game.

Nebraska 19  Indiana 14

 

GAME 7: vs. Purdue

REVENGE Part 2! The Huskers will be constantly reminded of the debacle in West Lafayette in 2015. This game will demand Nebraska's focus with Wisconsin and Ohio State looming ahead. The matchup clearly favors NU and they should be cruising in the 2nd half.

Nebraska 38  Purdue 13

 

GAME 8: @ Wisconsin

Welcome to the house of pain. No, not because Camp Randall is known for "Jump Around" but the fact that NU has been outscored 107-41 in the last two trips. Wisconsin is a strong defensive group but it might be Nebraska's defense that proves to be the difference. Huskers bring in a confident offense that could get  just enough done. This should be a classic black and blue affair but the Huskers finally prevail in Mad Town.

Nebraska 24  Wisconsin 21

 

GAME 9: @ Ohio State

Here it is. That game that several fans will reference as the one that Mike Riley figures out a way to pull an upset. The Huskers will be motivated and might even compete in this contest. Unfortunately the Buckeyes will be juiced in front of their home crowd and the talent will be evident. J.T. Barrett and company will be too much for the Huskers.

Ohio State 42  Nebraska 27

 

GAME 10: vs. Minnesota

Nebraska will be coming off of a challenging road swing so this one might not start off well. Minnesota still lacks a consistent offense but the Gophers have confidence against NU especially in Lincoln. Nebraska will get things going and should get it done but it could come down to the wire.

Nebraska 27  Minnesota 24

 

GAME 11: vs. Maryland

This game just seems like the one Nebraska puts it all together. Surviving a close call against Minnesota and highly motivated for Iowa the following week, the Huskers have all the right reasons to deliver a message. That and Nebraska is by far the better team in this matchup and play in the comforts of their home stadium. Offense just flat out goes off in this one.

Nebraska 51  Maryland 20

 

GAME 12: @ Iowa 

The West comes down to this on Black Friday. Nebraska should be riding momentum and emphasizing ball security. Iowa looks to be the same physical challenge it was a year ago with the same kind of sound play. The Hawkeyes are motivated and experienced. The Huskers are hungry and determined. The rivalry will reach it's highest pitch in this one with so much on the line for both squads. Who will go to Indianapolis?

Iowa 27  Nebraska 23

 

FINAL RECORD: 9-3