Every year for some time, we at the Double Extra Point have done a game-by-game prediction of the upcoming season. After the last few years, and with all of the changes to the program, guessing the 2022 season seems like an even more daunting task than normal.
But we’d hate to disappoint you. So once more unto the breach we go. We will use the same technique we have before, breaking games into four categories:
BETTER WIN: Expect to win all of the games
SHOULD WIN: Expect to win more than half of the games
MIGHT WIN: Expect to win less than half of the games
WON’T WIN: Expect to win none of the games.
Once all the games are categorized, we’ll add everything up and see what the system tells us. In addition, as always, we will also make a Fearless Forecast of each game (and with all the uncertainty this year, it’s way more Fearless than ever).
NORTHWESTERN (Aug. 27, 11:30a, Dublin, Ireland)
In the most obviously make-or-break season this century for Nebraska football, it is truly unfortunate that the first game of the year is both against a conference foe and played on a different continent. The Purples don’t appear to be a much better team than the one Nebraska drubbed last year in Lincoln. But Northwestern is the kind of team that Nebraska has struggled with under Frost, a team that grinds, doesn’t make mistakes, and waits for the opponent to beat itself.
Under anything close to normal circumstances, Nebraska should be heavily favored. But given that the game is early, and in Ireland, makes a game that Nebraska simply cannot lose all the more challenging.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17
NORTH DAKOTA (Sep. 03, 2:30p, Lincoln, NE)
A home opener against an FCS opponent would have been a far softer start to Nebraska’s season. The F’ing Hawks come off a 5-6 season last year, but run an aggressive blitz-all-the-time defense that could cause a team like Nebraska problems if everything goes right.
(Yes, I know they’re the “Fighting Hawks.” But the college hockey fan in me can’t resist the dig)
Regardless of how the Ireland game goes, Nebraska should have a comfortable return to Memorial Stadium
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 55, North Dakota 17
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (Sep. 10, 6:30p, Lincoln, NE)
A night game for Georgia Southern does seem a little unusual, but these are unusual times in which we life. The Eagles bring their option-style offense to Lincoln to challenge Nebraska, in yet more evidence that the world has been turned on its head.
But this is another game that Nebraska should be able to handle. Let’s just hope they get wise and give us “Thunderstruck” in the third quarter again.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 42, Georgia Southern 24
OKLAHOMA (Sep. 17, 11a, Lincoln, NE)
Last year, the Oklahoma game seemed like such a lost cause that I played in a Marvel Crisis Protocol tournament rather than watch what seemed to be an inevitable embarrassment. Shows what I know, as Nebraska took the Sooners to the fourth quarter with a chance to win, and I got smoked in my tournament.
This year, the game is in Lincoln, which (assuming Nebraska is 3-0) should make for an atmosphere unlike any we’ve seen since Miami came to town. Oklahoma’s got a new coach. Nebraska (in this scenario) comes in as confident as they’ve been. The stars are aligned for Frost to get his signature win.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 28, Oklahoma 24
INDIANA (Oct. 01, 6p, Lincoln, NE)
The Hoosiers looked primed to becoming a consistent force in the B1G East. Then, 2021 happened. Indiana went 2-10, and the momentum built up seemed lost.
Like Nebraska, Indiana will be looking to rebound from a disastrous season. But with the game in Lincoln and the talent differential still in place, it looks to be a tall order for the Hoosiers.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 31, Indiana 20
RUTGERS (Oct. 07, TBA, Piscataway, NJ)
The Scarlet Knights look to be on the rise with Greg Schiano’s return to the Birthplace of College Football. And Rutgers went to one more bowl game last year than Nebraska.
It’s a long trip out to New Jersey to face former Nebraska quarterback Noah Vedral. Rutgers is still likely a year or two away from competing at the top level, but this game has danger written all over it for Nebraska.
Fearless Forecast: Rutgers 24, Nebraska 21
PURDUE (Oct. 15, TBA, West Lafayette, IN)
Nebraska and Purdue really do feel like mirror images of each other, with Boilermaker head coach Jeff Brohm entering the league just two years before Frost, and both promising to bring dynamic offensive changes to the staid B1G.
Purdue’s 2021 season was a glimpse as to what Nebraska’s could have looked like, going 9-4 by getting close wins against Illinois and Michigan State and beating Iowa soundly. While Nebraska has a talent advantage over Purdue, the second road trip in a row feels like a big ask.
Fearless Forecast: Purdue 28, Nebraska 17
ILLINOIS (Oct. 29, TBA, Lincoln, NE)
Nebraska can’t lose to Illinois three times in a row, right? The last two games against the Illini have been embarrassing for Nebraska in different ways. In 2020, Illinois came to Lincoln and manhandled Nebraska. In 2021, Nebraska found seemingly every possible way to give the Week Zero opener away.
Bret Bielema brings a very particular style back to the B1G after his days in Wisconsin. He has yet to put the team he wants together, though, and it’s very hard to see Nebraska dropping a third straight.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 23, Illinois 10
MINNESOTA (Nov. 05, TBA, Lincoln, NE)
P.J. Fleck is in many ways a perfect villain for Nebraska fans. He brings a very slick presentation and puts off a used-car salesman vibe, and his “culture over talent” dig at Nebraska after last year’s game should stick in the craw of Nebraska fans.
Beating the Gophers in Lincoln would be a good sign that this is the year Nebraska gets out of its own way and starts to turn a corner.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 31, Minnesota 21
MICHIGAN (Nov. 12, TBA, Ann Arbor, MI)
Boy, it was close, wasn’t it. Nebraska was on the cusp of a real signature win, leading Michigan until the last three minutes of the game. Beating the Wolverines, a playoff team last year, would have changed the entire perception of Frost’s tenure, and may very well have led to more wins last season.
A trip to Ann Arbor is daunting, though, and Michigan’s talent is better than Nebraska’s. Even with how close the game was last year, it’s asking a lot to get this win.
Fearless Forecast: Michigan 28, Nebraska 20
WISCONSIN (Nov. 19, TBA, Lincoln, NE)
There a few constants in the universe, but one seems to be that Wisconsin has a great offensive line and question marks at quarterback. The same holds true this year, with Graham Mertz being the deciding factor between Wisconsin challenging for a B1G West title or not.
Even with the game in Lincoln, given the history it’s very hard to say that Nebraska will beat Wisconsin until we actually see Nebraska beat Wisconsin.
Fearless Forecast: Wisconsin 24, Nebraska 17
IOWA (Nov. 25, 3p, Iowa City, IA)
OK, Husker Fan, now can we say it’s a rivalry? We’ve seen Keith Duncan walk Iowa off the Memorial Stadium turf with a field goal. We’ve seen Nebraska lead Iowa 21-9 before a blocked punt triggered yet another collapse.
Iowa’s defense might be the best overall unit in the B1G West this year. And Iowa’s offense under Kirk Ferentz has always been like a zombie hoard – slow-moving, predicable, utterly relentless, and waiting for you to make a mistake so it can eat your soul.
(Hey, Hawkeye Fan, that’s a compliment)
This should be like Wisconsin, in that you don’t expect Nebraska to beat Iowa until Nebraska beats Iowa. But it’s time. Call it the Gambler’s Fallacy if you like, but there’s no way Nebraska gives another game away to the Hawkeyes.
Fearless Forecast: Nebraska 30, Iowa 23
OK, so let’s see what our system tells us about Nebraska’s 2022 season
|BETTER WIN (expect to win all)||2|
|MIGHT WIN (expect to win less than half)||4|
|SHOULD WIN (expect to win more than half)||6|
|WON’T WIN (expect to win none)||0|
That puts Nebraska at 7-5 for the season, which should be enough progress to keep Frost in Lincoln. The Fearless Forecast is a little more optimistic, showing Nebraska going 8-4 with a win on Black Friday.
One of the most fascinating – and consequential – season in recent memory is about to dawn for Nebraska Football. Frost once said that if Nebraska does turn a corner, it’ll turn quickly. Given how strong recruiting remains even off a 3-9 season, a proof of concept season for Frost and his new staff could really be a launching point.