Nebraska Football: Is ESPN’s Football Power Index right about Huskers?

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Nebraska Football didn’t crack the top 25 of ESPN’s preseason football power index and it begs the question are the Huskers underrated or ranked just right?

One of the great things about covering sports is that over the years more tools have developed to tell us who is good and who isn’t. One of those tools in college football is the ESPN football power index and when the top 25 came out for 2019, Nebraska football didn’t make it.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the football power index is a tool that compares teams over a four-year period and is based on overall team performance, returning starters with an emphasis on the quarterback, recruiting classes and whether or not the head coach is back.

ESPN released its preseason rankings for 2019 and it was no shock to see the top five feature Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Michigan. However, after a lot of preseason hype, you kind of thought Nebraska football might make it, yet the Huskers landed at No. 35.

The FPI projected Nebraska to have the No. 20 offense and the 52nd-ranked defense, along with a special teams ranking of 23. Having head coach Scott Frost back helps and having Adrian Martinez, the runner-up in the Big Ten Freshman of the Year race as the quarterback is even better.

Yet, when you consider the Huskers performance over the last four years, you can see why Nebraska football is ranked a little low. The Big Red have had just one winning season in the last four and in 2018, Nebraska was 4-8.

Regardless of the FPI, the arrow definitely seems to be pointing up for the Huskers, who should have a good chance of getting back to a bowl game in 2019, while some even think Nebraska football will have a shot at contending in the Big Ten West, especially with games against Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern all at home.

There are going to be some questions to answer on defense, especially with the pass rush. However, the secondary might be the strength of the team and all three levels of the defense should be helped by a recruiting class that ranked first in the Big Ten West and 19th overall.

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The Huskers have some work to do before they can be considered a top-25 team, yet if the team improves as rapidly as UCF did under Frost, then Nebraska football may become a regular part of the rankings very soon.