Vegas Odds Makers Say Husker Will Go 7-5

From 5-7 to 7-5 doesn’t seem like much of a jump, but for Husker faithful a bowl game and a winning record would be wondrous.  Taking a look at Vegas’s most recent over/under on Nebraskas’ 2024 win total (7.5) actually surprised me a bit. Stating that they think we will win 7 games in 2024 with the recent history of being the longest running power 5 school without making a bowl game and a freshman quarterback is in itself a bold statement. There is an old saying that the past is the best way to see the future, well it looks like the odds makers feel that Rhule and company may just be the ones to prove that statement wrong. 

Looking ahead at the schedule in a way in which we will not be able to fully grasp the scope of how each team will look this fall, but taking a look at where they sit now leaves Nebraskas’ ability to hit the 7 win mark very promising this upcoming season. Leaving out speculation of Rhule’s ability to make a massive year 2 jump, and just using a statistical breakdown, this is what the outcome for the Huskers in 2024 looks like.

Ratings by the numbers gives Nebraska 4 games with a 80-100% win probability. Those games are UTEP, Northern Iowa, Illinois and Rutgers. I am surprised to see Rutgers in this mix as they have had steady improvement over the last few years under Head Coach Greg Schiano, but I do think with the uncertainty at QB and lack of depth on both offense and defense as well as the mid-season placement of this game gives Nebraska the decisive advantage in the computers eyes. There is 4 wins with a high level of surety already, leaving the Huskers with the need to only pick up 2 more wins to make a bowl game and 3 more to meet Vegas’s projection. 

Moving on to the games with a slight edge the Cornhuskers see 3 teams pop up. Ratings by the numbers sees Nebraska having a 51-79% chance of beating Purdue, Indiana and one of the new additions to the Big 10, UCLA. I can understand all of these predictions with Purdue finishing 4-8 in 2023, Indiana 3-9 and UCLA’s recent coaching changes. I am however surprised not to see Colorado in this category. Colorado’s biggest advantage over us this coming year is the position on the schedule. I do still believe that they do not have the depth to play a complete season and rely on a few key players that if removed from the situation due to injury or fatigue will be detrimental to the buffalos season. Once again starting hot and finishing not. 

With only 1 game coming in at the lowest win probability, Nebraska’s chances of beating Ohio state come in somewhere between 0 and 30% according to Ratings by the numbers. Leaving Iowa, Wisconsin, USC, and Colorado with a deadlock or a slight advantage. Giving the Huskers a win probability percentage of 31-50% in those games. I do believe however that all 4 of those games are closer to a 50-50 draw than a dismal 31% chance of success. Matt Rhule is a proven commodity in years 2 and 3, However we do not yet know how true freshman Dylan Raiola will respond to such a large stage. Interjecting a bit of personal opinion here in an otherwise very logistical breakdown, I do believe the Huskers will win either Iowa or Wisconsin and Colorado. Giving us possibly and feasibly 9 wins in year 2 of the Matt Rhule era. 

Matt Rhule says “Half the team Grew Up On Husker Football”

In an interview with ESPN earlier this week Cornhusker Head Coach Matt Rhule commented on how half of the current roster “grew up on Husker football” also stating that “all of our guys are Huskers but some of our guys are Cornhuskers”. Stating that it will be a defining factor moving forward. “ They have a deep passion, wanting to be a part of turning it around.”. Leading Cornhusker nation into believing that Rhule clearly understands how much the program means to the state and how much it means to players born and raised watching the action in memorial stadium every Saturday in the fall their whole life. Instilling it’s importance onto them at a young age.
High level collegiate football players, play with a natural edge. They have passion for days, and a drive that leaves most confused. Even amongst their over the top characteristics, a born and raised Husker stands out on the field. From Adam Carriker being born in Hastings, NE to Garett Nelson a Scottsbluff native and so many others to mention, Their passion has shown through on and off the field.
These Huskers’ passion, motivation and understanding is one of the best tools for developing a championship team. Embedding their deep understanding of not the sport but of what it means to all 85,000+ in the stands every Saturday and millions more at home makes the players from instate and out of state alike feel like one big family. Rhule has mentioned many times that he wants to build a team with high school recruits and young transfers and I believe he knows this is the way to ensure that we will not be riddled with holes from the transfer portal like we have seen happen to so many up and coming teams.
Getting players to buy in is something every coach in the country is striving for. Building a family that you will protect at all costs every Saturday has been a goal since football’s debut in 1869. Nebraska has both the tradition and the fanbase to build off from to ensure players are all in on both of those matters. Playing football at the University of Nebraska is not just a stop on your journey, but hopefully one of the defining factors of your success. I do find a lot of similarities between the things that coach Osborne said and what coach Rhule says today and they are both on the same page with this one as well. Husker football operates best as a family, and family starts at home.

Is Tony White Leaving For A HC Job?

As now former UCLA head coach Chip Kelly makes the move to Big 10 Rival Ohio State and takes a demotion to become their next offensive coordinator, Huskers Defensive Coordinator Tony White is once again being courted for a Head Coaching Job. Tony White is a UCLA graduate and one of the hottest names in college football coaching. White, a multi-year starter for the Bruins at linebacker in the late 90s and early 2000s is currently leading the Huskers on defense in an effort to make the Blackshirts feared once again. In 2023 White’s defense performed outstandingly. Finishing ranked 11th in total defense, 9th in rushing defense (best since 1999) and 12th in passing defense only allowing 18.3 points per game the Blackshirts were in great form in 2023. A defense Nebraska looks to build off of in 2024. But will this squad still have its coordinator?

If this was any other school I would say that White would stay put where he is. He has already proven his loyalty to head coach Matt Rhule by turning down job opportunities this year and signing a restructured contract, making him the highest paid assistant coach in Nebraska football history. With 2 years left on that deal Husker faithful are hoping he fulfills the entirety of the contract. But, his Alma Mater could come calling. Tony White knows Westwood well. Not only playing for UCLA, but also coaching for local Las Angeles based Genevieve High School. After coaching in the highschool ranks White returned to UCLA as a graduate assistant for football operations. His next job continued his connections with UCLA as he joined the New Mexico coaching staff in 2008 where he served as linebackers coach under his former UCLA defensive coordinator Rocky Long.

Serving under Rhule at Temple as the defensive line coach White developed a relationship with Huskers HC Matt Rhule. When Rhule took the Nebraska job he chose to go with White and his unique 3-3-5. Aligning perfectly with Matt Rhule’s philosophy of positionless players. White’s aggressive play calling and constant player rotation lead to a fast defense that is hard for opposing coaches to pinpoint. Rhule does seem to give Tony White plenty of freedom as a defensive coordinator and let’s hope that’s something he values enough to keep him here for another couple years.

White has the talent and undoubtedly UCLA will be at least doubling his salary but the question remains, will he leave Nebraska for seemingly a perfect fit or does he have unfinished business with the Huskers. Selfishly I want White to stay, while at the same time I am proud of what he accomplished as a Cornhusker and would support his move. That being said, I do believe that Rhule is a fantastic leader of men, and no matter if he has to replace White or gets to keep him we will be just fine on defense in 2024.

4 Star D End to flip from Husky to Husker?

Just as we thought the story on four star defensive end Keona Wilhite was coming to an end for Nebraska, and that he would be committing to UCLA on national signing day this Wednesday. Wilhite, a 6-5, 235 pound four star defensive end out of Arizona, seems to be contemplating swapping beaches for blackshirts.

With the possible departure of UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, Wilhite has opened back up his recruiting and the Cornhuskers seem to be the front runner.

Watching Wilhite’s film, one thing continued to jump off the screen at me. His length. He is a long armed, large framed defensive end with the ability to pack on another twenty five pounds of muscle. His ability to use that length for leverage is a great tool when pass rushing and has a tendency to finish plays with a touch of violence.  He will need to work on his explosiveness off the ball and hand fighting but that is something that can be accomplished easily on this staff. If Wilhite can put everything together he has the ability to stand out as an every down defensive end and not just a 3rd down pass rusher.

Hailing from the Arizona powerhouse highschool Salpointe Catholic, Wilhite will have a solid base of knowledge and his fundamentals down, coming into Nebraska. Leaving plenty of time for the coaching staff to tweak the little things. Bringing in an athlete this size with room for growth when it comes to explosiveness and handwork has great upside potential for the Big Red. We should not expect to see this four star on the field very often as a freshman, but he is expected to be a Husker faithful household name by his junior year.

Nebraska’s Culture Wins The Transfer Portal

As Husker fans we all too often look at who we pick up every year in the transfer portal, rightfully so. We have had some explosive additions. From an all ACC wide receiver, to a young four star running back out of Oregon. But let’s take a look at how Nebraska “Rhuled” the transfer portal this year.

The additions were large in stature, filling in all of the needed positions. The talent acquisition was fantastic by the staff. And the timing was swift and promising to Husker fans. Although with all of those accomplishments, I stand firm in my belief that the reason Nebraska won the transfer portal this year was due to the retention of its roster. Some players left expectedly, but the damage was kept to six. With many standout players on 2023’s defense and a solid tight end room you may have expected a larger exodus. One like that which plagued schools such as Alabama who tied for the most players leaving into the portal this year with 27, Purdue (27), Michigan State (27), Washington (25), and Indiana (24).

Rhule often mentions his process. He is very steadfast in the creation and continuance of this process. Rhule wants to bring in young individuals out of high school and develop them into great football players and even better men. As we have all seen with the behind the scenes footage that the University put out this year, Rhule not only wants to build a team, but a family. This environment is something that people do not want to leave. With a look back at previous administrations we got used to seeing a star shooting out of Nebraska. From Ernest Hausmann (a Nebraska native) making the move to Michigan to Wan’Dale Robinson leaving for Kentucky. This year that seemed to not be the case. We are sure to see some movement in the running back room this spring due to its depth, but I don’t think there will be too many shockers on that front.

Keeping his house in order and his grass well watered, to not appear greener on the other side is a tough thing to do in today’s day and age. But Matt Rhule seems to have the maid hired and the sprinklers set to come on like clockwork. From players who don’t want to sit two years before starting, to players disliking the staff. The ability to retain everyone from an incoming class has become nearly impossible. Schools that retain the starting and backup positions while maintaining depth will start to rise.

One thing that sticks in my mind is that on a frigid black friday. After an Iowa loss. Nebraska seniors were raving about their coach. Wishing they had an extra year of eligibility to spend with this team. That is a culture that retains players. And a team that can retain players in this portal charged environment can make moves towards competing at a very high level. Coming in at number 20 this year in the transfer portal rankings with very few additions was impressive. However what we didn’t lose says more about Rhule and the future of Nebraska Football than what we gained.

Nebraska’s Best Situational Recruiting Class Since 2005?

As recruiting has come to an exciting end and the transfer portal wanes, we can now sit back and see how Matt Rhule stacked his recruiting chips in year two. Searching through this recruiting class, and the small yet impactful list of transfers. One thing kept creeping into my mind. Is this the most influential recruiting class we have seen since the 2005 class with Lucky and Suh?

At the end of last season Husker fans understood that we needed a quarterback first and foremost. We got two. Two Elite 11 quarterbacks, putting Nebraska in a situation it hasn’t found itself in before. Dylan Raiola is arguably the number one quarterback in the class. The other, Daniel Kaelin, a 6-2 200lb Bellevue West product who in his own right had many power five suitors. Raiola could very well be the motor that wakes up this Big Red Machine and Kaelin being the bolts that hold it together under tough situations.

Coming off this past season where Nebraska didn’t have a single receiver ranked in the top 25 in the Big Ten, Rhule looked to fix that in the portal. Building off the young talent already in Lincoln, Nebraska went out and grabbed two receivers from the portal with an extremely high ceiling. Accumulating back to back 600 plus yard seasons and a All ACC honorable mention, Jahmal Banks from Wake Forest is expected to make an immediate impact. Isaiah Neyor, the former Texas Longhorn also makes the move to Lincoln, bringing more experience into the current locker room. Even though since transferring from Wyoming after a fantastic season to Texas, last year was a let down for Neyor due to injury. The Texas transfer holds a very high ceiling if he can rise back to his 2021 form.

Among transfers is a young standout running back from Oregon. Dante Dowdell, is Matt Rhule’s ideal back. With a large frame and good speed Dowdell can make waves early. Most likely landing in the top of the rotation his first year in Lincoln.

Protecting all these weapons Nebraska picked up this year to increase the offensive horsepower is one veteran transfer from Florida, Micah Mazzccua. A Plethora of 2024 recruits including Grant Brix, a 4 star Tackle from Iowa. Preston Taumua and Gibson Pyle, both 4 star recruits from Hawaii and Texas respectively. And an offensive line which greatly improved in 2023.

With a defense that will be a topic for another day. I do believe arguably this class is the best situational recruiting class that we have seen at Nebraska since the 2005 class which held stars such as Lucky, Suh, and Phillip Dillard. With the situation the Huskers have found themselves in latley, this class could very well be more impactful than anything we have seen in the past 20 years.