There’s a certain formula to a preseason prediction. You take the result if everything goes right, times the human factor, times injuries and multiply that by the way things have gone in the past.
And then factor in the weather, girlfriends and, yes, opponents. They’re trying to win, too.
Last year, we hadn’t a clue about Mike Riley and the way he did things, so my prediction blew off into the wind on opening day, like so many red balloons.
This season, we have a much better idea what they’re all about and what they’ll do week to week.
I see Red people.
I see happy Red people.
OK, happier Red people.
I see a Nebraska football team that built character last season, along with some characters. I see a team determined to make good, players who say they are focused.
I see two senior starters suspended for the first game for violation of team rules.
I see a coaching staff mostly backing up the talk about playing to strengths, about running the ball and establishing a physical presence and taking the pressure off the quarterback.
I see a line that will have to grow fast to overcome losing its top run blocker, Jerald Foster.
I see a stable of skilled receivers who want their share of catches and heroics and an offensive coordinator who will want to give them the chance.
I don’t see any games with more than 40 passes.
I see a team that is likely going to remind me of my daughters. When I ask them if their room is clean, they say yes. And then I check and it’s just partially clean.
I see a defense that is not only going to hold serve, it’s going to be pretty good by the time the line grows up.
I see a budding superstar coaching the defensive line, and sorry for that jinx, John Parrella.
I see days where I’ll write that Mick Stoltenberg looks and sounds like Brian Bosworth, and people telling me I have to stop living in the ’80s.
I see few pass-rushers but a bunch of linebackers who can stop the run, and I think that will come in handy in the Big Ten West.
I don’t see any Hail Marys in their future.
I see a game-changer wearing No. 15 who is not quite back to speed, but close enough to spook some opposing coaches.
I see 11 games where Nebraska can win if it plays well and one — Ohio State — where it will have to have a lot happen to win.
I see seven home games where Nebraska should win if it plays well.
I see the Craig Bohl homecoming being more sweet than bittersweet, full of lessons to hang in there and find your place rather than dwell on the negative.
I see a close, well-played win over Oregon’s Ducks, behind the “UCLA game plan,” and a deep breath by everyone.
I see a come-from-behind win at Ryan Field, just off Lake Michigan, in front of the home Nebraska crowd.
I see the Big Red finishing off the crucial three-game stretch with a win over Illinois, thanks to the Tommy Armstrong run game. I see a lot of laptops in the press box referring to last year’s finish in Champaign.
I see an Indiana team coming off losses to Michigan State and Ohio State playing like crazy and winning a shootout over Nebraska. I see goalposts coming down.
I don’t see any way Nebraska loses to Purdue.
I see the Huskers finally breaking the Camp Randall streak, over an offense-challenged, beat-up Badger team — but only by a touchdown. I see Ryker Fyfe coming off the bench to be the hero.
I see a couple of freshmen, including I-back Tre Bryant, contributing, including on special teams. I see Terrell Newby finishing with more than 1,000 yards rushing.
Under the spotlights at the “Horseshoe,” I see Nebraska starting fast and taking an early lead on Ohio State. Then I see a third-quarter correction and a young Buckeyes team gaining steam winning by 17.
I see Urban Meyer gushing about a kid named Cethan Carter and how glad he is not to have to face him again.
I see Iowa losing at Penn State and Illinois and coming into the Cold Turkey Bowl tied with Nebraska at 6-2.
I see the Hawkeyes grinding out a Big Ten West title in the brutal cold, playing it cleaner than a Nebraska team that fell back into its turnover trap.
I see a 9-3 record, and a trip to the Outback Bowl to face Ole Miss.
And a lot of Red people who don’t like losing the division but are happy (happier) with nine wins, including a reason to finally jump around in Madison.
I see Ohio State losing to Oklahoma but growing from the loss into the East Division champ after a home win over Michigan’s Fighting Khakis.
I see a chance to be smart here and ahead of the curve and pick Iowa to win the Big Ten, but I’m going with the Buckeyes.
I see Oklahoma handling Houston and folks saying, “The Big 12 will never pick Houston now.”
I see the Big 12 inviting BYU and Houston.
I see Clemson winning at Florida State on Oct. 29, the day that Deshaun Watson wins the Heisman. I hear some Husker fan saying, “Shawn Watson won the Heisman?”
I see Oklahoma, Clemson, LSU and Stanford in the playoff. I see Watson outdueling Christian McCaffrey in one Heisman semifinal, and Baker Mayfield beating Leonard Fournette in the other.
I see Bob Stoops’ second national championship, and somewhere a Sooner fans says, “It’s about time.”
Meanwhile, somewhere in Lincoln, I see a “Tanner Lee for Heisman” bumper sticker.
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