There are Blackshirts. There are team captains. There were already Thursday night college football games, and there will be Friday night college football games (which is weird). Husker gameday is Saturday. The long slog through the off season is over. So now the Arkansas State Red Wolves come into town as a team expected to contend for the Sun Belt. This is a game that the Huskers are supposed to win, but the line has moved from 19 down to 14.5 (depending on where you look). So what will happen?
What should happen is that the Huskers win by around 20 points. Nebraska ending up with a score of 40 to 20 seems reasonable, but it really does depend on a few key pieces. For one, Tanner Lee will be leading the helm in a style of QB play and offense that Husker fans have only seen from opponents (if you ignore the Callahan era). It will comfortable for Mike Riley, but probably not for anyone else watching the game. The fans have to learn a whole new football intelligence program guide in order to know what play calls to politely clap for anymore.
Secondly, it comes down to the defensive fronts for both teams. The Huskers have talent on the defensive line, but must gel in the first quarter because of the new 3-4 system that Coordinator Bob Diaco has installed. The Red Wolves offensive line seems like the right opportunity to take advantage of some mismatches, and they will need pressure up front to keep them off the field and rested. The defensive front for the Red Wolves could be the biggest factor of the night. They have raw talent and size up front and I look for them to cause some of the biggest disruptions of the game against our offensive line.
Looking around at the media predictions, the Huskers seem to be the favorite across the board. But a close game in the fourth quarter seems to be a big concern on everyone’s mind. The first game of the year is a gigantic unknown since almost nobody has seen what the Huskers are capable of. A Husker loss means that this team is going to have to try and limp through the season just to get Mike Riley the time he needs to bring the top tier talent into Lincoln. A Husker win only predicts what the Huskers are capable of against this quality of opponent and next week will shape the opinions of how the rest of the season will actually turn out.