Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sizing up the rest of the season in blackjack terms

Preseason predictions by game are always compelling if not conjecture. Well, I contributed to such a matter back in June:

As I expected, Nebraska stands at 3-1, predicting relatively easy wins over Florida Atlantic (49-3), Arkansas State (38-9) and Louisiana-Lafayette (55-0) along with a close loss to Virginia Tech (16-15). Of course, who could have predicted the defeat at Virginia Tech to be of such heart-breaking proportions.

The Huskers enjoy a bye this week entering their Oct. 8 Thursday night ESPN telecast at Missouri. Faurot Field has been a house of horrors lately for Nebraska, which has given up 41 points in each of the last three head-to-head meetings in Columbia, Mo. And has not won their since 2001.

Excluding any Big 12 championship or bowl games, most people tabbed Nebraska as 8-4 on the low end and 10-2 on the high end. Our minds might change of course but we size up the Huskers remaining games and their chances for victory in blackjack terms:

Oct. 8 at Missouri:

Victory odds: No worse than even money.

The Tigers are 4-0 but it’s also a soft 4-0. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, everyone’s favorite in Nebraska for de-committing two years ago, has looked very good but the Tigers ground game and run defense are less than stellar. Mizzu also struggled to put away Bowling Green (27-20) and Nevada (31-21). Whoever is favored will be a slight one.

Oct. 17 vs. Texas Tech

Victory odds: No worse even money.

The Red Raiders are not the juggernaut they were last season, and keep in mind Nebraska was a desperation Joe Ganz interception away from pulling off the upset in Lubbock in a 37-31 overtime loss. Texas Tech might not be offensive machine it normally is but they are still like a fast break basketball team that needs to be lured into a halfcourt game.

Oct. 24 vs. Iowa State

Victory odds: Blackjack

The Cyclones are 3-1 but got hammered 35-3 by instate rival Iowa, the only team Iowa State has played with a pulse. There’s a good chance the Cyclones won’t win a game the rest of the way. OK, at best they win one or two but don’t count on it happening in Lincoln.

Oct. 31 at Baylor

Victory odds: Blackjack

With quarterback Robert Griffin healthy, Nebraska had about a 65 percent to win. With Griffin on the shelf the rest of the season with a knee injury, the Huskers victory chances go up to about 85 percent. The Bears have been overmatched since entering the Big XII in 1996 but were viewed by some prognosticators as a “bowl eligible candidate but seriously, even with Griffin who else were they going to beat in Big XII besides Iowa State?

Nov. 7 vs. Oklahoma

Victory odds: Likely dealer win

The Sooners have shown no shortage of resilience since falling 14-13 to BYU in a game that saw quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford sustain a broken collar-bone. OU has since rebounded to defeat Idaho State (64-0) and Tulsa (45-0) with backup Landry Jones at the helm. The Sooners will probably face a pretty pissed off Miami team. Keep in mind, the overhyped Hurricanes got taken to the woodshed with a 31-10 loss at Virginia Tech Saturday. Bradford might be back by the time OU comes to Lincoln but even without him, the Sooners will be tough to beat.

Nov. 14 at Kansas

Victory odds: No worse than even money

This game will have plenty of Big XII North implications. The Jayhawks are 4-0 and faced their first true test last week at home against Southern Mississippi. Kansas did not pass with flying colors but a 35-28 win against a good Conference USA team is nothing to scoff about. KU will be a tough out as long as Mark Mangino is the coach but Nebraska does have a talent advantage not to mention equal if not superior coaching with Bo Pelini.

Nov. 21 vs. Kansas State

Victory odds: Blackjack

The Wildcats are showing far greater signs of life in Bill Snyder the Sequel than they did under Ron Prince but let’s face it, this is a reclamation project. If K-State lost 73-31 to a down and out Nebraska team in 2007 what makes you think they’ll beat what figures to a Husker team that is getting better at this stage of the season.

Nov. 27 at Colorado

Victory odds: No worse than even money

I know most Husker fans are thinking this game is a slamdunk and that it’s not a rivalry. Unfortunately, the latter misses the point. Nebraska has won the majority of head-to-head contests but very few have been blowouts.


With Pelini’s coaching staff, Nebraska will occasionally win a game you don’t think it’ll win. They’ll rarely if ever loss a game that looks like a slamdunk to win. They’ll win no worse than half of their bubble games.

A 9-3 regular season looks like a pretty solid bet.

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