Nebraska football takes the field

Cornhuskers outlook for the 2020 season


Photo By: Farmgalphotos

This year the Lincoln skies will not be filled with balloons after Nebraska scores its first touchdown of each home game. There will only be family members of the players allowed to attend the game but fans will still be supporting the Cornhuskers in any way they can.

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

On Saturday, October 24, Nebraska will kick off its 2020 football season. This year will have many differences from the previous seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The season will kick off just shy of two months later than a typical season would begin. This is because the Big 10 Conference was forced to postpone the 2020 season on Tuesday, August 11. This year the Big 10 conference will only play teams within the conference, this is an effort to limit coaches and players exposure to the disease. By not traveling as far to play games there is a much better chance staff and players will not be around the disease.

Nebraska’s 2019 season was a bit of a letdown. The Cornhuskers had high hopes coming into the season, but they were quickly dashed. The team went a mere 5-7 overall with non-conference wins against South Alabama and Northern Illinois, and a bad non-conference loss to Colorado. Nebraska was a disappointing 3-6 in conference play with wins against Illinois, Northwestern, and Maryland. They had conference losses against Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The Cornhuskers failed to qualify for a bowl game for the third straight year. Their last bowl game appearance came in the 2016 Music City Bowl where they lost to Tennessee 38-24. This year Nebraska is facing the sixth hardest schedule in all of college football, and will face four top 25 teams along the way. 

Nebraska will kick off the season on the road against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes come into this game ranked fifth in the nation while the Cornhuskers are not ranked. The two teams also faced off in 2019 with Ohio State destroying Nebraska 48-7. Ohio State is coming off a stellar 2019 season, the Buckeyes went 12-0 in regular season play as well as 9-0 in conference play. They also were able to capture the Big 10 Championship with a win over Michigan. This gave them the opportunity to face off against the Clemson Tigers in the National Championship Semifinals where they took a narrow loss. I personally believe that this year will be a repeat of last year. Ohio State’s starting quarterback Justin Fields is returning for his junior year after being a Heisman Candidate last year. Ohio State is in contention for the National Championship year in and year out, and I don’t see any change this year. I just don’t think Nebraska has the talent to hang with the top teams in the Big 10 yet and that is why I think the Cornhuskers will take a loss by a score of 42-13. I believe we will get a little closer than last year but will still be a long way off.

The Cornhuskers will then face off against the fourteenth ranked Wisconsin Badgers, in Nebraska first home game of the season. When the teams faced off last season the Badgers came away with a victory by a score of 37-21. Wisconsin had a solid year last year going 10-3 overall and 7-2 in conference play, the Badgers also qualified for the Rose Bowl where they faced off against the Oregon Ducks and took a narrow loss. I believe that the Cornhuskers will be close to capturing their first win of the season in this game. Nebraska played Wisconsin well last year behind our junior quarterback Adrian Martinez throwing for 220 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Last year Wisconsin’s senior running back Jonathen Taylor ran for over 200 yards which was another huge game for him. Luckily for Nebraska, this year Taylor is playing in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts so we won’t worry about having to shut him down. I believe we will put up a hard fight in this one but come up a little short in the end. I believe Nebraska will fall to Wisconsin by a score of 31-24.

Nebraska will also face the Penn State Nittany Lions at home. The last time the two faced off against each other was way back in 2017 and Penn State was victorious by a score of 56-44. Last year the Nittany Lions had a very successful season, they were 10-2 overall with a 7-2 conference record. Their only losses of the season came against second ranked Ohio State and seventeenth ranked Minnesota. With such a great record Penn State qualified for the Cotton Bowl game where they faced off against Memphis and came away with a win by a score of 53-39. Although a lot of Penn State’s stars are now graduated they are still ranked number eight in the country for a reason, they still have a lot of talent and challenge for the Big 10 Championship every year. I believe Nebraska will fall to the Nittany Lions by a score of 38-17.

The Cornhuskers will travel next door to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. The teams faced off last in 2019 and the Hawkeyes came away with a narrow 27-24 victory. Iowa had a solid season last year going 9-3 overall and 6-3 in conference play. This record gave them the opportunity to compete in the Holiday Bowl where they beat the USC Trojans by a score of 49-24. Last year when the teams faced each other Iowa had a very solid defensive game, they were able to hold Martinez to only 50 passing yards and zero touchdowns. Nebraska only picked up 284 yards total which is not their best offensive game either. The Hawkeyes were also able to shut down the Cornhuskers running attack, Nebraska’s starting running back Dedrick Mills only had 94 rushing yards and zero touchdowns. The last time Nebraska beat Iowa was six years ago, all the way back in 2014. It pains me to say this, but I believe our losing streak to the Hawkeyes will continue. Iowa is still a very solid team and is always right there with the top teams in the Big 10, a place Nebraska is trying to reach. I believe this will be a good football game and the Hawkeyes will pick up a win by a score of 28-20.

Nebraska will close out its 2020 season with a home game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The last matchup between these two teams was in 2019 and the Cornhuskers took a big loss 34-7. Minnesota had a very strong season last year goin 10-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play. This allowed them to compete in the Outback Bowl against the Auburn Tigers, a game which the Golden Gophers won 31-24. This was another game where Nebraska’s defense just let the team down. Granted, the offense only scored seven points which won’t win you a lot of football games but it is hard to get anything going when you keep getting scored on and scored on. The Minnesota offense had a total of 450 yards as well as 21 first downs. The Golden Gophers were led by their sophomore running back Mohamed lbrahim who rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns. This year, once again, Nebraska’s defense will need to be much better. They have to give our offense a chance where we don’t have the pressure of needing a touchdown everytime we touch the ball. I believe Nebraska will fall to the Golden Gophers by a score of 31-21.

This year Nebraska will also take on some of the smaller schools in the Big 10. In their third game of the season the Cornhuskers will take on the Northwestern Wildcats, a game which I believe Nebraska will win 20-14. In week five Nebraska will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini, I believe we will win this game 24-13. In week seven the Cornhuskers will play the Purdue Boilermakers in a road game, I believe Nebraska will come out on top by a score of 24-17. This would give Nebraska an overall record of 3-5 on the season.

There are a lot of high hopes for the Cornhuskers this season, people believe that this is the year Nebraska head coach Scott Frost will turn it around, but I just don’t see that happening. We are playing very tough teams week in and week out and I don’t believe we are as strong as a majority of the football teams we are playing. This means that Nebraska will not make a bowl for the fourth straight year. If we had a few non-conference games to get a couple of wins I think we could definitely be a bowl team, but with one of the hardest schedules in all of college football I just don’t see it happening.