Following seven straight seasons of at least nine victories, and exactly four losses, Nebraska, somewhat surprisingly, made a change at head coach; out is Bo Pelini, in is Mike Riley. Can the former Oregon State coach return this program to prominence?
Nebraska Cornhuskers 2015 Betting Preview
The Coach Pelini era in Lincoln is over, having produced, well, nothing. Nebraska lost exactly four games in every one of Pelini's seven seasons, and made just one appearance in a conference championship game, and got blown out there. And that kind of mediocrity (Gator Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Capital One Bowl, rinse and repeat) just don't cut it with this program. So the 'Huskers canned Bo, and lured Mike Riley away from Oregon State, which we think is an upgrade. And while the cupboard isn't exactly full, it's not empty, either.
2014 in Review
Big Red opened last season 5-0, although it needed a late score to avoid going to overtime as a 33-point favorite against McNeese State, and won four of its first five in Big Ten play to get to 8-1 overall and No. 11 in the polls. But in the game that ultimately meant everything the Blackshirts allowed Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon to set a new NCAA record with 408 rushing yards in an embarrassing 59-24 loss in Madison. Nebraska then lost at home as a 10-point favorite to Minnesota, snapping a 16-game winning streak against the Gophers, finished the regular season with a win over Iowa, but lost its bowl game to USC.
So the 'Huskers finished 9-4 overall last year, 5-3 in conference play and, somewhat surprisingly, 8-5 against the spreads, going 5-1 ATS away from Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska also went 8-5 on the totals last season, as 'Huskers games averaged 64 points.
2015 'Huskers Personnel
Nebraska returns 12 starters this season, which is actually two more than they had heading into last season. Six starters are back on offense, including QB Tommy Armstrong (31/20 career TD/INT ratio) and two of last year's top three receivers. But they have to replace last year's leading rusher, leading receiver and three along the offensive line.
Six starters are also back on defense, including three of the front four. But there are holes to fill, after the loss of four of last year's top five tacklers.
The 'Huskers averaged 452 yards on offense last season, while giving up 384 YPG on defense. Our guess is they're going to have a tough time reaching that figure on offense this year, but should improve that figure on defense. Consequently, they may play more low-scoring games this season, which might result in more UNDERS.
As Big Ten schedules go, Nebraska catches several breaks this season. The 'Huskers open at home with BYU and South Alabama, visit Miami (Fla.) and conclude non-conference play by hosting Southern Miss. From there they'll play four winnable conference road games, at Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue and Rutgers; get Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa all in Lincoln; and they miss Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. If Nebraska can win three Big Ten road games, and hold the line at home, they'll make the conference championship game.
Betting the 'Huskers in 2015
With a new head coach comes new systems, and a learning curve, but Riley steps into a better situation than most “new” coaches do, and this year's schedule is kind. We see at least nine or 10 winnable games. Nebraska may not win all of those winnable games, but 5Dimes is offering a wins OVER/UNDER of eight, and we could see the 'Huskers going over.
5Dimes was also listing Nebraska at +230 to win the West Division, and that might be worth a wager, too, considering it gets the favorite, Wisconsin, in Lincoln.