It’s here. Finally. We are set to kickoff the 2016 Nebraska Football campaign. The Big Red will come rolling out of that tunnel to the cheers of 90,000 fans. It’s going to be beautiful. There is nothing like game day in Lincoln Nebraska. This team should be pretty good as well. That’s for another time. For now just enjoy the fact that the football season is upon us. Soon the balloons will be released and the pads will be popping inside Memorial Stadium. My favorite pastime will begin once again. It’s a wonderfully exciting time of year. I know I plan to really soak in the excitement that accompanies the fresh, new season. Here is what you need to know about the ballgame Saturday night.
Fresno State has long had a reputation as being one of the best non power five football programs out there. It’s reputation was built off of star players like Derek Carr, Davante Adams and Ryan Matthews, as well as upsets of big time teams. As recently as 2013, Fresno was 11-2 and ranked as high as number 15. Since then Fresno is 9-17. Last year’s squad was downright awful. The Dogs went 3-9 with wins over Abilene Christian, UNLV (three wins), and Hawaii (three wins). The numbers are worse than the record if you can believe it. Both the offense and the defense finished ranked in the 100’s. They were out-gained in eight of their eleven games against FBS competition, gave up over five yards per carry for the season, and allowed their opponents to complete 62% of their passes. Yuck. If you look at this team on paper, they better resemble a three-legged mutt than the Bulldogs. As it does for everyone, hope springs eternal as the season begins. FSU coach Tim DeRuyter overhauled his staff, replacing all coordinators and six assistants in total. Perhaps that gives them a boost. They better hope that it does. This squad does not look promising. The Dogs return just two of their top six tacklers from that miserable defense, and they lost their top rusher. They do return their top three receivers, but those guys aren’t keeping me up at night. FSU tapped redshirt freshman Chason Virgil as its starting QB. Virgil completed 55% of his passes for 5.3 yards per attempt in limited action. He is a threat to run as well. Chason represents the future for the Dogs, and make no mistake there is promise there. Still, this is an extremely tough spot to put the kid in. Opening the season, in front of a packed house, running a new offense? Not a great spot to put that youngster in.
Season openers are tough to gauge. Will Fresno be energized by the new coaches around them? How will the Huskers attack a previously woeful Fresno State defense? How about the young NU front four? The questions abound. My prediction is simple and clear: The Big Red comes out and smashes Fresno. This game will not be competitive in the second half. Nebraska will come out and grind the Dogs into a fine powder. They will lean on them with that shiny new offensive line that will have Husker fans salivating. Devine Ozigbo and Terrell Newby will gallop through this crappy defense with ease. Defensively the Huskers will be chasing Chason from the outset. Sacks and turnovers will result. It’s going to be pretty impressive, but don’t be fooled. If Fresno is going to be better this year, the improvement will come later in the season. This is a terrible spot to be breaking in a new QB, offense and defense. The Big Red will be the beneficiary. Huskers roll 38-10, in a yawner.