Welcome to OSI Heat Index, a look at local teams and assignment of a “temperature reading” based on the past week’s performance.
This week, it’s a look at several college football teams entering the first week of the season after breaking camp, and a few Omaha area high school teams that impressed in Week 0 action.
Heat Index: 8
Fans are ready. Players are ready. Coaches are ready (save perhaps one, who will be watching from home the first four weeks of the season). After nearly nine months on the shelf, the Huskers will finally get back on the field Saturday against Fresno State. The buzz factor around Nebraska is always sky high, but a few things temper it down below a “10” right now.
Injuries were relatively few and far between for the Huskers in fall camp, but Gerald Foster’s knee combined with Corey Whitaker’s setback will create some interesting questions along the offensive line. Keith Williams DUI arrest also throws a little cold water on the start of the season.
There’s also a tiny segment of the fan base that will continue to question Mike Riley’s competency heading into this season based on last year’s substandard campaign.
That said, its a relatively small group, and EVERYONE is ready for football in Nebraska.
Heat Index: 9
Had is not been for a two-game losing streak to end 2015 (every player on the roster will remind you of that fact, despite going 12-0 during the regular season), things would be screaming along at a “10” heading into 2016 for Iowa. Still, expectations haven’t been this high for the Hawkeyes in a long time, and with good reason.
CJ Beathard is widely considered one of the top QB’s in the league, and while Iowa will have to replace a few pieces on offense, there’s a healthy amount of talent returning. The story is much the same for the Hawkeye defense. The back seven will be among the elite in the Big Ten, especially with CB Desmond King shocking everyone by bypassing the NFL draft to return for his senior season.
The old story goes that Kirk Ferentz teams don’t perform well when there are “expectations” placed on them, and tend to be at their best “flying under the radar.” If Iowa can buck that trend this season (and I think they can), a return trip to the Big Ten title game should be in the cards.
Iowa State Football
Heat Index: 9
To be clear, I don’t think Iowa State football will be competing for any championships this season, but given what first year Head Coach Matt Campbell has done to re-energize the Cyclones in a short amount of time has them moving in the right direction.
Iowa State has probably never had a better short stretch of recruiting that Campbell’s first six months on the job. He’s got an upgraded stadium to work with. New football offices. And a fan base, that despite Iowa State not being competitive for the final years under Paul Rhoads, continues to show up and fill Jack Trice Stadium.
The Cyclones have some nice pieces on offense: WR Alan Lazard has an NFL future, QB Joel Lanning can really sling it and is a threat to take off and run, and RB Mike Warren averaged nearly 6.0 YPC last year. But the Cyclones are thin up front on defense, and will susceptible once again to having teams run it down their throat.
Given their schedule, I don’t think the Cyclones make a run at a bowl game this year, but Iowa State fans may not have to wait too long with Campbell at the helm.
Omaha Burke Football
Heat Index: 10
Who saw this one coming? Despite a 3-6 record a year ago, Omaha Burke opened the season with a 38-0 win over #6 Omaha Central on Friday. Burke led 31-0 at halftime and never really let up.
QB Tyler Chadwick went 6-9 for 117 yards, and Josh Baker had a 41-yard TD run for Burke in the win. Quite the way to start the season.
Elkhorn South Football
Heat Index: 10
The Storm sure do know how to start the season. Despite leading just 7-3 at halftime, Elkhorn South rallied to score 27 unanswered in the second half to defeat #3 York 34-3.
RB Moses Bryant is a guy to watch this year for the Storm - he ran for 116 yards and a TD on just 10 carries on Friday night, while QB Braden Wright threw for 146 yards and ran for another 51.
Up next? #2 Omaha Skutt. Talk about a challenging start to the year.