With a No. 35 preseason ranking and a new local hero as their head coach, much was to be expected of Nebraska in the 2018 season.
Unfortunately, Nebraska has severely underperformed thus far, to say the least.
Former UCF head coach, Scott Frost, came back to his alma mater Nebraska in the off season with the hopes of restoring the program to its former glory after one of its worst seasons in school history last year as they went 4-8 and 3-6 in Big Ten play.
At the start of the season, many were eager to see what Frost would be able to do with the Nebraska program coming off a perfect 13-0 season with the Knights that featured a conference championship and a bowl win over Auburn. But while there was potential for a successful turnaround prior to the start of the season, the Huskers have gone winless through four games.
Despite the departure of quarterback Tanner Lee, Nebraska returned key skill players like running back Mikale Wilbon and wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. But even with some returning starters, Nebraska has come up very short, losing to Colorado, Troy, Michigan and Purdue with the offense playing especially poorly against Michigan. As they travel to a night game at Camp Randall, it looks like a first victory against Wisconsin will also be unlikely.
Wisconsin will be coming off of a bye week when it faces the Huskers at home on October 6. The Badgers recovered quickly after its hiccup against BYU by taking down Iowa 28-17 on the road. Nevertheless, the Badgers have no more room for mistakes during the remainder of the season if they want to be considered for the College Football Playoff.
Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook stepped up against Iowa and completed some imperative plays that helped lead the Badgers to victory. Nebraska struggled against a similar offense to the Badgers when they lost to Michigan 56-10, and after Hornibrook’s strong performance, it seems likely the Huskers’ 75th ranked defense will struggle.
Nebraska, while they’re mostly young and undisciplined, there are some players like senior running back Devine Ozigbo who are still leading the team in a positive direction. Against Purdue, Ozigbo took major hits, but was one of few seniors still out-hustling everyone on the field. Ozigbo recorded 170 yards on 17 carries for the game. Another player who showed heart and resilience was senior wide receiver JD Spielman, who even after a fourth quarter injury was anxious to get back on the field to help out his team. That kind of grit and effort will be needed to keep the game close against a tough opponent like Wisconsin.
Looking at this weekend’s game, Nebraska is outmatched in their first year under Scott Frost against the Badgers and it doesn’t look incredibly likely that they’ll find a first win soon. Except for Bethune-Cookman and Illinois, there are very few games where Nebraska would be the favorite. Scott Frost is likely building for the future this year, and a solid showing against Wisconsin in a loss would be at least a sign of improvement.