In 2011, The Nebraska Cornhuskers graced the Big Ten with their presence. In that time, Wisconsin has managed to somehow outmatch the good guys in five out of six meetings. However, just like any feel good story, the protagonist must prevail. Right?
Sources tell me, the tale of the 2017 Nebraska Cornhuskers will draw eerily similar parallels to the story of Andy Dufresne. Andy was a mild mannered banker, wrongfully convicted of murder in Portland, Maine. Dufresne using creativity and unparalleled determination, chipped away at his jail cell wall, trenched through the prison’s sewage system and ultimately escaped the clutches of the Shawshank State Penitentiary. Similarly, Nebraska will chip away at the Badger secondary, dominate the trenches and walk away in decisive fashion on October 7, 2017.
R.I.P Ellis (Red) Redding, gone but never forgotten.
Now before you accuse me of getting way too far ahead of myself, like I tend to do, I acknowledge that the Oregon game on September, 9th takes precedence. In regards to Oregon, I believe if the Huskers can control the line of scrimmage and remain composed in a ruckus Autzen stadium, they will walk away with a win against the Ducks. If that holds true, then we are potentially looking at a 5-0 Husker football team welcoming a more than likely undefeated Wisconsin Badger squad into Lincoln.
Only this time there will be no “stand by the road and cheer as the winners go by” as recited in the Nebraska prayer. Don’t misunderstand, Nebraska nice will still be present on October, 7th, but in the form of encouraging a beat down Badger squad with the ole “you’ll get em next week” as they exit the field. In the same fashion your father encouraged you after your little league team was mercy ruled in three innings.
The evidence to support this bold claim is quite substantial.
But first, regardless of whether Nebraska wins the Oregon game, in the grand scheme of things a loss to the Duckies will hold little weight. Yes, a win is always desired, but if we are talking realistic achievements for this season, I think a national title is probably not one of them. My point is that the Wisconsin game is of greater importance to the Husker’s Big Ten divisional standings. As we all know, the road to a “New Years Six Bowl” is through the Big Ten Championship. To get there, you have to win the west first. To win the west we will have to beat Wisconsin. Who by the way has a softer schedule than a waffle cone from Zesto’s on a hot summer day.
The first reason Wisconsin will lose to Nebraska is the fact that the game is in Lincoln, hopefully at night (TBD currently). Memorial Stadium, under the right conditions can be one of the most difficult stadiums to win in on the road. You mix that atmosphere with two potentially undefeated teams playing for high stakes and you have an absolute insane asylum for a stadium. The student section will be lit, the North and South endzones will be bananas and East stadium, well, East stadium will sit like they always do.
Secondly, Nebraska by all accounts is a dark horse in the West. I find this to be a fair assessment from a national perspective. Most major media outlets are projecting an 8-4 outlook for the Huskers. My gut and eyes tell me 10-2. With both losses coming from Ohio State and Penn State in the East. An underappreciated/underrated national view will keep that chip firmly planted on the Huskers shoulders.
My third reason for this bold and steadfast prediction is my inclination that Nebraska’s offense will be among the most productive in the Big Ten and quite possibly the country. By now, we have all heard about the hype surrounding Tanner Lee. Do I think he will live up to it? Yes, I do (Dwight Schrute voice). However, even if he is just a game manager, I think Nebraska has enough tools on offense to keep defenses off balance. We have seen glimpses of what Langsdorf’s offense can do when things are clicking. A true made-to-fit quarterback in his system should take his scheme to the next level.
To tie into the capabilities of the offense, Nebraska’s pure talent and athleticism will over match Wisconsin. Riley’s recruiting ability is slowly coming to fruition and we are starting to see some players separate themselves athletically. The Badgers are big and physical no doubt. But they have a new defensive coordinator in Jim Leonhard. Who has been coaching for all of two years. Yes, the Badgers put up respectable numbers defensively last year, but entrusting the defense with a guy that was a first year defensive backs coach in 2016 is very risky. I could be wrong, but I’m not.
Lastly, Wisconsin has question marks at quarterback. Now this isn’t a deal breaker for the Badgers. As we have witnessed Joel Stave struggle to throw a spiral ten yards, yet still achieve victory by handling the ball off all game. However, Bob Diaco’s experience as a defensive coordinator should seal up the Husker’s defensive woes. Really any improvement defensively will put the Cornhuskers in a better place. More importantly, the Blackshirts have bought into Diaco’s system, something Banker failed to achieve during his time in Lincoln.
Much like Andy Dufresne, Nebraska has been carefully waiting for their opportunity to defeat Wisconsin. In the same way Andy waited for the right moment escape and steal the Wardens laundered money, Nebraska will undoubtedly get redemption over Badgers. All will be well in the state of Nebraska. We Nebraskans will wake up to a crisp Sunday morning sunrise, look out over the horizon and recount the decisive victory from October 7th, 2017.
So there you have it, put a check in the win column. To all the Wisconsin fans out there, I want you to know that we appreciate your valiant effort. You’ll get em” next week.