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2017

Nebraska Cornhuskers

College Football

Betting Preview

Schedule

From the outside, Nebraska had a pretty good 2016 season, labeled as an elite team after a 7-0 start. But once the competition picked up, the Cornhuskers fell and lost four of their final six games. Their best wins of the year were either against a disappointing Oregon team in the final seconds or against Minnesota in Big Ten play. Otherwise, they were handled easily by Ohio State, Iowa and even Tennessee in the bowl game.

For the team to improve, the offense needs to find more consistency in Mike Riley’s third season, but will need to do so without its top players from a year ago. Tanner Lee, former Tulane transfer, will takeover at quarterback and it’s unclear how the offense will look with him, as he wasn’t too mobile in his Tulane days and struggled with accuracy (51.8% completion in 2015). Joining him will be new starting running back Devine Ozigbo (412 yards, 5 TDS) and some new wide outs that take over for Jordan Westerkamp. Stanley Morgan (453 yards) and De’Mornay Pierson-El look to have bigger roles, while slot man JD Spielman made a name for himself in the spring. The offensive line has experience, but still isn’t an elite group by any means. The Huskers scored 26.5 points per game a year ago and will need to top that total.

The defense was fine last season giving up 22.8 points per game, but they bring in Bob Diaco, former UConn head coach and Notre Dame DC to change things up. With him comes a 3-4 scheme and that could light a fire under a line that rarely got to the quarterback last year. Freedom Akinmoladun is expected to make a jump at end, while Mick Stoltenberg mans the middle. The Huskers return enough experience at the other levels to see an improvement from this group. Dedrick Young and Luke Gifford provide talent at linebacker with the secondary possibly being one of the better units in the Big Ten. Safety is set with Joshua Kalu moving there from corner to join Kieron Williams, while Lamar Jackson and Chris Jones are the guys at cornerback.

To reach double-digit wins, it’s likely going to mean another win against Oregon, this time in Eugene. If not, there is still a path to getting there, mainly due to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa all coming to Lincoln this season. Of course, those will still be hard games and the addition of Penn State won’t help. If the Huskers can’t get an upset or two at home, they’ll probably need to win at Minnesota and maybe even Oregon to reach nine wins again.

They still have the second-best odds in the spring to win the Big Ten’s West division, although are tied with Iowa at +2300 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference. With a new quarterback, it’s hard to see the Cornhuskers making a jump to the title game, but crazier things have happened. Lee has a lot on his shoulders and it could take some time for him to get this offense at the same levels as the Tommy Armstrong-led group.

2017 Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Arkansas State
Sept. 9 at Oregon
Sept. 16 vs. Northern Illinois
Sept. 23 vs. Rutgers

Sept. 29 at Illinois
Oct. 7 vs. Wisconsin
Oct. 14 vs. Ohio State

Oct. 28 at Purdue
Nov. 4 vs. Northwestern
Nov. 11 at Minnesota
Nov. 18 at Penn State
Nov. 24 vs. Iowa

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