Do you believe in curses? After six straight four-loss seasons, you have to wonder if Bo Pelini’s Nebraska football teams have been hexed.
To help us find the answer, let’s take a look at the past. Can we spot any trends from the last six seasons that help show us what results in a four loss year?
One glaring thing I could spot was that Nebraska incurred at least one home loss in five out of six years of Pelini’s tenure. In three of those five seasons, the Huskers lost more than one game in Lincoln.
The 2012 season saw Nebraska finish undefeated at Memorial Stadium. However, they reached the four loss plateau by falling flat on their faces in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, then the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina.
Falling flat at the end, that seems to be a trend as well. In five of the last six seasons, the Huskers dropped at least one of their final two games. In two of those years, they ended the season with a two-game losing streak.
The last trend I see is at least one loss to an unranked team, be it on the road or at home.
2008 saw the Hokies from Virgina Tech come into Lincoln and beat the Huskers. In 2009, unranked Texas Tech smacked NU around to the tune of 31-10 only to be topped the following week by one of the lowest points in Nebraska football history, an eight turnover-aided loss to Iowa State at home 9-7.
2010 brought the hated Texas Longhorns into Lincoln. They upset the then-No. 5 Huskers. 2011, 2012, and 2013 all saw losses to unranked teams in Northwestern, UCLA and Minnesota, respectively.
With these trends already going against the Pelini-led Nebraska football teams, let’s look to 2014 and see if NU can break the curse. In my humble (and optimistic) opinion, the curse will be broken! In fact, this Husker fan’s thoughts look awfully similar to our friendly editor Brandon Cavanaugh’s ‘Best Case Scenario’ for 2014.
Florida Atlantic comes to Lincoln (sans Carl Pelini) and will get drubbed. They would have gotten smacked around even with Carl. I think everyone can agree on that. FCS’ McNeese State Cowboys come calling after that (with former Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams). Does anyone really think that’ll end in any other way than a Nebraska blowout victory? Didn’t think so.
The Huskers follow two big wins by heading out to California to battle the always tough Fresno State Bulldogs. However, this time the Bulldogs are without their NFL-caliber quarterback Derek Carr. No truth to the rumor he petitioned the NFL for an extra year of eligibility so he could avoid Oakland.
Chalk up a Nebraska victory and then the Big Red comes home for the last game of the non-conference slate against the big name Miami Hurricanes.
This Miami game seems eerily familiar to Virginia Tech’s trip to Lincoln in 2008. However, I believe Nebraska bucks the trend and beats the unranked ACC foe in Memorial Stadium to end the non-conference slate undefeated.
Illinois at home to open the Big Ten season? No problem for Tommy Armstrong and the Huskers. There may be a problem when the Huskers go on the road to East Lansing to face the tough Michigan State Spartans. I have to give the Huskers the “L” in that one. Sparty has a solid team and going on the road is simply too much for the Big Red against this highly ranked opponent.
However, the Huskers will bounce back in the next three games. Pelini will right the ship against three inferior teams. Northwestern is pesky and it’ll be a tough out, but the Wildcats just aren’t better than Nebraska. Rutgers and Purdue at home? NU isn’t dropping those barring an Iowa State-style eight turnover meltdown.
I’ll give Nebraska football its second loss of the season on the road at Wisconsin. A rugged Badger team could give the Huskers fits. Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah dueling in Madison will be fun, but Gordon gets the edge here against the youthful Blackshirt defense.
The last two games will give the Huskers revenge for last season. Nebraska will blow out Minnesota, then go on the road to beat up Iowa in a slugfest, thus curing the ills of Black Friday 2013.
That puts the Huskers ending the regular season 10-2 with two losses in conference to Michigan State and Wisconsin. Despite the loss to the Badgers, I believe that’ll be good enough to earn then a spot in Indy representing the Big Ten West division against Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes. Sadly, I think the bunch from Columbus edges NU to grab a spot in the College Football Playoff. 10-3.
This sends Nebraska to a bowl game (Capital One or Outback) against an SEC team. Give the Huskers a second consecutive bowl win over the SEC to claim an 11-3 record and broken curse!
The 2014 recipe adds up. No losses at home or to unranked teams. The Big Red won’t get past losing one of their last two, but it won’t matter. Bo’s 2014 Nebraska football team will break the four loss curse.
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