It’s that time of the year again.
The 2023-2024 college football season wrapped up on last Monday as the No. 1 Michigan Wolverines took down the No. 2 Washington Huskies 34-13. The Nebraska Cornhuskers watched from the couch as the Huskers missed the postseason for the seventh straight season. However, the Nebraska faithful are “sipping on the Kool-Aid” at an all-time high. Head coach Matt Rhule and the Huskers managed to land the No. 1 quarterback, Dylan Raiola, in the 2024 recruiting class. Raiola headlines a top 25 class on top of six instant plug-and-play players out of the transfer portal. Rhule will also look to continue his second-year improvement trend that was seen at his last two stops in college football at Temple and Baylor.
They say it’s never too early, so here’s a “way too early” look at 2024 Nebraska football.
Way Too Early Look at 2024 Nebraska Football
Before going through the schedule, it’s important to realize how crucial the 2024 season will be for the Huskers. As previously mentioned, Nebraska hasn’t made a bowl game since 2016 and hasn’t reached a conference title game since 2012. The 2023 season showed some promise, but at the same time, there were issues that just defined Nebraska football in the last decade.
There was hope. The Huskers were 5-3 heading into November, but hopes for the postseason went down the drain as Nebraska dropped the final four games, losing all four by one score.
Now, in the 2024 season, the Huskers’ main goal at the end of the day will have to be making at least a bowl game. However, with the way the schedule is set up, Nebraska could potentially make noise. Now let’s get into it.
The Huskers open up the 2024 season at home against the UTEP Miners on August 31. It will be the first time since 2019 that Nebraska opens the season at home against a non-power five opponent. Then, on September 7, the Huskers will host Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes before hosting FCS Northern Iowa Panthers on September 14.
Nebraska opens Big Ten play against the Illinois Fighting Illini at home on September 21. With their fourth straight game at home, it will be the first time since 2013 that the Huskers will start a season with four or more home games. Nebraska’s first road game is against the Purdue Boilermakers on September 28. After traveling to West Lafayette, the Huskers return home for their homecoming game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on October 5.
Returning off the bye week, Nebraska will have two straight road games against the Indiana Hoosiers on October 19 and the Ohio State Buckeyes on October 26. The Huskers then return home to face a new Big Ten conference member, the UCLA Bruins, on November 2. Nebraska then has its second bye week before heading to its West Coast debut in conference play to take on the USC Trojans in the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 16. The Huskers will have their senior day game against the Wisconsin Badgers on November 23 before taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road on Friday, November 29.
The first six or seven games are very doable, but the brutal final stretch of games will be a test.
Too Early Prediction
2024 will be much different than 2023 for Rhule and the Huskers. The first six games will have minimal challenges. Nebraska’s non-conference schedule is modest, with its only power-five opponent being Colorado. Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes gave the Huskers trouble last season and could do the same next season. Their third and final non-conference opponent, Northern Iowa, has upset other FBS opponents, but Nebraska will most likely make it through the Panthers before entering conference play.
Another interesting circumstance for the Huskers is that in their first six games, they will only face one team that won six or more games in 2023. That being the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. However, when they return from their bye week, things will become more difficult. In the final six games, Nebraska will face five teams with seven or more wins, including the Buckeyes, Trojans, Bruins, Badgers, and Hawkeyes. Reaching 10 wins will be very difficult for a second-year coach and freshman starting quarterback, but it’s within reach if things go right. However, things could go wrong. Despite having a generally easy first six games, the Huskers could struggle in those games. Possibly losing to Colorado, Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, or even Northern Iowa.
Despite that, if Tony White’s defense is as good as it was last year, which was a top-15 defense, Nebraska can reach bowl eligibility. On top of that, an easier schedule in the first half will allow the Huskers to be ready for a brutal second-half schedule. Eight wins for Rhule and Nebraska will be reasonable.
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