The Nebraska football program finds itself with a clean slate, thanks to a new head coach, offense and defense. Still, after seven years of four-loss seasons under coach Bo Pelini, it's hard for the media to give Mike Riley the benefit of the doubt right out of the chute.
The Amway USA Today Coaches Poll was less than kind, giving the Huskers a mere 27 votes.
Props do go out to Brian Howell (Daily Camera), Gary Horowitz (Statesman Journal), Matt McCoy (610 WTVN-AM, Columbus, Ohio) and Mike Sorensen (Deseret News, Salt Lake), who dipped a toe and added the Cornhuskers to their Associated Press ballots.
Those four will likely be vindicated once the college football season is over. I know, blasphemy to talk about such things before it's even begun.
Thanks to suspensions and BYU's porous defense, Nebraska should jump into the Top 20 quickly. With Miami (FL)'s mass exodus of players to the NFL, an undefeated non-conference slate is far from unattainable for the Big Red.
At this point, if the Huskers aren't at the No. 19 spot or better, they have a grand opportunity to not only bust into the Top 15, but take a firm hold of the Big Ten West division lead as Wisconsin comes to Lincoln.
Not only is this a pivotal game, but All-Everything Nebraska sensation DeMornay Pierson-El may be ready to step back onto the field and make first-year Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst's initial visit to the Cornhusker State anything but pleasant.
Nebraska has to trudge through nine games before welcoming the Michigan State Spartans to Lincoln and I've been predicting that game as a loss for quite some time. Conditioning can only do so much, but if Riley can manage to beat coach Mark Dantonio, he deserves...I don't know, is it too early to build a statue?
If WWE has taught us anything, no, it is not.
Very winnable games against Rutgers and Iowa (which visits following the much needed and only bye week of the Huskers' season) set up Nebraska for an oh so fun matchup in the Big Ten Championship Game, likely against Urban Meyer's merciless Ohio State Buckeyes.
I’m certainly not naive enough to think the Huskers take home the Stagg Championship Trophy. However, I do believe that if this is all to unfold, not only does the Big Red make the aforementioned pollsters look like powerful prognosticators, but there’s a shot at the Fiesta Bowl or the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
A 10-2 regular season record is very feasible. I personally feel double-digits is a safe bet. Get on board, pollsters. You’ll only look 10 times better if you do so now.
— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Cavanaugh is founder of Eightlaces.com, a site devoted to in-depth Nebraska coverage. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.