The start of college football is only one month away and it’s never too early to talk about week 1. Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Northwestern Wildcats is the biggest game of week 1.
The Cornhuskers and Wildcats are coming off of terrible seasons in 2021.
For Northwestern, the Wildcats 2021 season was an odd occurrence. The Wildcats have been one of the most consistent programs of the decade.
Since 2012, the Wildcats have had six winning seasons, three 10 win seasons, 6 bowl appearances, and 5 bowl wins. Under Pat Fitzgerald, we can expect for the Wildcats to significantly improve in 2022.
Last year, South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski did not have a great year for the Wildcats. He threw only three touchdowns and 4 interceptions. We can look at 2021 as Hilinski’s freshman year, but in 2022 he will have to do better. With that being said, the Wildcats will see the return of many key players from last season who were injured. Northwestern will be strong in week 1.
Unlike Northwestern, the legendary Nebraska program has fall off completely from where they were. Under Scott Frost, the Huskies are 15-29 with many 1 possession games that didn’t go their way.
Since Bo Polini was let go at the end of 2014, the Cornhuskers have had only one winning season. That came in in 2016 under then head coach Mike Riley. Frost was meant to bring what he had done at UCF to Nebraska. At UCF, Frost’s first year was tough. The Knights went 0-12 in 2015, but in Frost’s final year with the Knights in 2017, the knights went 12-0 with a Peach Bowl victory over Auburn.
Nebraska has been hoping that level of success would follow him back home to Nebraska. Frost was the last quarterback to lead the Cornhuskers to a National Championship in 1997. For that reason, the Cornhusker administrators have been very patient. Heading into 2022, Scott Frost is 100% on the hot seat.
In this matchup last season, the Wildcats were blown out 56-7 to a bad Nebraska team that did not win another game the rest of the year. The Wildcats might have a returning quarterback and players coming off of injury, but they were bullied all year long.
Unlike Nebraska, the Wildcats were beat soundly in most of their games. Unless the Wildcats have done a complete 360, I expect the Cornhuskers to win this one.
The Cornhuskers have made major additions to their staff and quarterback room. Frost went out and hired former Pitt offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple to the same position. This is great news for Texas transfer Casey Thompson. Thompson comes in with the most experience at the quarterback position and is expected to start week 1.
Thompson put up big numbers for the Texas Longhorns last season. Throwing for 24 touchdowns to just 9 interceptions with a 63% completion rate. Thompson also rushed for 4 touchdowns as well. It was the defense for the Longhorns that could not hold up. The only reason he transferred to Nebraska is because former #1 overall quarterback recruit, Quinn Ewers, was transferring in from Ohio State. Ewers is expected to be the missing piece for the Longhorns.
Like Ewers, Thompson might be the missing piece for the Cornhuskers. All 9 losses in 2021 were by 9 points or fewer. For that reason, the Cornhuskers are prime for a huge year.
Prediction: 35-14 (Nebraska).