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Editor’s note: This is 12th in a 12-part series previewing Iowa football’s 2022 opponents.
Nebraska might have the highest outside expectations in a long time, if not ever, for a football team coming off a season with a 1-8 Big Ten record.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Huskers a 31 percent chance of winning the Big Ten West. That’s higher than the odds for Wisconsin, Iowa or any other team in the division.
National sportswriter Phil Steele described the Huskers as a “Big Ten West title contender” in his preview magazine.
Those typically are not the words you expect to hear about a team that has finished no better than 5-7 in head coach Scott Frost’s four years there.
A more favorable schedule, an influx of transfers and Nebraska’s many narrow losses from 2021 all lead to an unusual level of optimism nationally about the Huskers.
All eight Big Ten losses in 2021 and its one nonconference loss to then-No. 3 Oklahoma were by single-digits.
The Huskers were one of the most aggressive teams in the transfer portal this offseason, adding former Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, former TCU edge rusher Ochaun Mathis, former Alabama safety Kaine Williams and several others.
Nebraska also has a favorable set of crossover games from the Big Ten East — at home against Indiana and on the road at Rutgers and Michigan.
Iowa vs. Nebraska: 3 things to watch
- How well do Nebraska’s incoming transfers mesh? With so many offseason additions, the Huskers won’t be coming into 2022 with the same level of chemistry as a team like Iowa.
- Can Nebraska improve its special teams? Had Iowa not had such a sizable advantage in special teams, the 2021 Iowa-Nebraska game could’ve had a much different outcome.
- Oliver Martin’s return to Iowa City. The Iowa City West grad committed to Michigan and was in Ann Arbor for two years. Then after his redshirt freshman season, he transferred to Iowa. Then a year later, he transferred to Nebraska. He played in Kinnick as a Husker in 2020, but that was without fans.
The last time Nebraska had a winning record, “Finding Dory” was one of the top-grossing movies of the year.
Maybe an infusion of transfers will help Frost find a way to keep up with the biggest fish in the Big Ten West sea, but the Huskers have plenty to prove before Black Friday.
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