Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule talks to the official during their game with the Iowa Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium.

Post spring projection for 2024 Nebraska football: Part 2

With the spring season past us, there are only three months until college football returns. The longest part of the offseason awaits as Nebraska Cornhuskers begin to prepare for the 2024 campaign. The Huskers just fell short of bowl game eligibility in 2023 with a record of 5-7 in head coach Matt Rhule’s first season in Lincoln. After a successful winter and spring on the recruiting trails and on the practice field, how much improvement will be seen in the in the 2024 season. Here’s part two of our post spring projection for 2024 Nebraska football.

Post spring projection for 2024 Nebraska football: Part 2

Three CH-47 Chinook helicopters fly over the field during the national anthem before the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Maryland Terrapins at Memorial Stadium.
Nov 11, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Three CH-47 Chinook helicopters fly over the field during the national anthem before the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Maryland Terrapins at Memorial Stadium. (Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports)

Game No.7-12 projection

Indiana Hoosiers

2023 Record: 3-9 (1-8 B1G)

Date: Oct. 19, 2024, TBA

Location: Bloomington, Indiana

The Huskers return off of the bye with a two week road trip, starting in Bloomington, Ind. against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers had quite an offseason. After an abysmal 2023 season, finishing 3-9, Indiana fired head coach Tom Allen after seven seasons in Bloomington. The Hoosiers went out and hired former James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti. Cignetti was the coach of the Dukes for five seasons, achieving a 52-9 overall record, including an 11-1 record in 2023 in James Madison’s first season as a FBS program in the Sun Belt Conference. Now, he embarks on a tough rebuild at Indiana, who hasn’t made it to the post season in three consecutive seasons. Over the transfer portal window, the Hoosiers were able to bring in some interesting transfers for the offense.

The biggest wins were former Ohio Bobcats senior quarterback Kurtis Rourke and former James Madison junior wide receiver Elijah Sarratt. Rourke will most likely be the Hoosiers’s starting quarterback in the fall as he had a very successful career at Ohio, with most notably winning the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award in 2022. Sarratt had a breakout season for the Dukes last season, catching 82 passes for 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns, which led to him being named to the first-team all Sun Belt team a year ago. The matchup against Indiana should bring some challenges, especially with it being on the road. However, with a week of rest, Nebraska should be able to take care business against the Hoosiers. With the win over Indiana in this scenario, the Huskers would reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016.

Projection: 27-17

Record: 6-1 (3-1 B1G)

Ohio State Buckeyes

2023 Record: 11-2 (8-1 B1G)

Date: Oct. 26, 2024, TBA

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Week two of the two game road trip begins the toughest five-game stretch to end a season since at least the 2016 season. It begins at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio against the Ohio State Buckeyes. The 2024 Buckeyes have had one of the best off seasons in recent memory. The offseason started off with bringing multiple highly rated transfer portal prospects, including former junior Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins, former graduate Kansas State quarterback Will Howard, former freshman Alabama quarterback Julian Sayin and former sophomore Alabama safety Caleb Downs to name a few. On top of that, Ohio State has many future NFL players already on the roster like senior defensive linemen J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer, senior running back TreVeyon Henderson and senior wide receiver Emeka Egbuka. They also brought in former UCLA head coach Chip Kelly to take over as offensive coordinator.

The Buckeyes are most likely are the front runners for not only the Big Ten Conference championship, but alongside the Georgia Bulldogs for a National Championship. It could be an interesting game if the game was played in Lincoln, however, Nebraska has go to Columbus. So, with that said, the Huskers aren’t at a point yet to be able to potentially upset the Buckeyes. You can chalk this up as a loss.

Projection: 45-20

Record: 6-2 (3-2 B1G)

UCLA Bruins

2023 Record: 8-5 (4-5 PAC-12)

Date: Nov. 2, 2024, TBA

Location: Memorial Stadium

The UCLA Bruins had to replace former head coach Chip Kelly after Kelly left for the offensive coordinator job for Ohio State. The Bruins replaced him with DeShaun Foster, who is a UCLA athletics hall of famer and former running backs coach for the Bruins. Foster takes over at UCLA with no prior head coaching experience, but the Bruins brought in former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to be the offensive coordinator in Pasadena. Bieniemy becoming the offensive coordinator should be interesting for the future of UCLA football. However, the Bruins are up for one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2024, which having to go on the road to face Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in November will be very tough, especially for a team from SoCal. UCLA is projected to have a tough season in its first year in the Big Ten. With potentially being able to use the weather and crowd to their advantage, the Huskers will take this game over the Bruins in a close, low scoring game to improve to 7-2 on the season

Projection: 17-13

Record: 7-2 (4-2 B1G)

USC Trojans

2023 Record: 8-5 (5-4 PAC-12)

Date: Nov. 12, 2024, TBA

Location: Los Angeles, California

After facing UCLA, the Huskers get to travel to southern California in mid-November to play a conference game against the USC Trojans. This is still weird to think about. The Trojans are obviously losing former quarterback Caleb Williams, who if you didn’t know, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears. USC’s starting quarterback in 2024 will most likely be junior Miller Moss, who started in the 2023 Holiday Bowl for the Trojans. Behind Moss, former sophomore UNLV quarterback Jayden Maiavia, who led the Rebels to a 9-5 season in 2023. If you remember the Trojans in 2023, their downfall was caused by the defensive side of the ball. However, Alex Grinch was relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator this offseason and USC brought in D’Anton Lynn, who transformed the UCLA defense. In 2022, the Bruins defense was No. 87 in total defense, but Lynn helped elevate the defense to No. 11 in total defense in 2023.

USC’s defense should be improved in 2024, but the offense will regress. However, that is expected when you lose a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback. Despite that, Nebraska will more than likely struggle in its first trip to LA for a conference matchup, but will keep it close.

Projection: 28-35

Record: 7-3 (4-3 B1G)

Wisconsin Badgers

2023 Record: 7-6 (5-4 B1G)

Date: Nov. 23, 2024, TBA

Location: Memorial Stadium

Despite having no divisions, the Huskers still have to go against the Wisconsin Badgers, who have taken 10-straight games from Nebraska. The last time the Huskers defeated the Badgers was in 2012 in Lincoln. Now in 2024, Wisconsin is coming off of a 7-6 record in 2023. The Badgers lose Braelon Allen and Tanner Mordecai and have senior Chez Mellusi to take over as RB1 for Allen and Wisconsin picked up former Miami senior quarterback Tyler Van Dyke out of the transfer portal to be the starting quarterback in 2024. Van Dyke will be a great quarterback for second year offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s air raid offense and Mike Tressel is building something good on the defensive side of the ball.

Head coach Luke Fickell is building something in Madison, but with one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2024, including hosting the Alabama Crimson Tide, it could be a tough season. It’s hard to imagine Nebraska defeating the Badgers, despite it being close games the last few games, including last year ending in overtime. However, can the Huskers get over the hump? It won’t happen this season as Wisconsin will pull off a nail-biting victory over the Huskers to extend their winning streak to 11 games in a row over Nebraska

Projection: 14-17

Record: 7-4 (4-4 B1G)

Iowa Hawkeyes

2023 Record: 10-4 (7-2 B1G)

Date: Nov. 29, 2024, TBA

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

The Huskers, per usual, ends the 2024 season with the Hero’s game against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Nebraska just fell short, losing 13-10 to the Hawkeyes in Lincoln last season. Iowa has had some abysmal offenses the past few seasons, but that could change as the Hawkeyes moved on from former offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and brought in former Green Bay Packers analyst and Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester to become their new offensive coordinator. Iowa also returns senior quarterback Cade McNamara, who’s season was cut short in 2023 due to an season-ending injury in the Hawkeyes win over the Michigan State Spartans. There is serious talk that if Iowa has any glimpse of competence on the offensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes could potentially win 9+ games in 2024. However, how fast can Lester fix the Iowa offense in one season in the new Big Ten, with questions with McNamara’s ability to stay healthy? That question will be answered this season, but it will be interesting to see how good the Hawkeyes end up being in 2024.

Now looking at the matchup with the Huskers. The Hero’s game has gone down to the wire every season for the past six seasons it feels like, but Nebraska finally got rid of its demons in 2022, upsetting the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, but fell victim to its one-score loss woes to end the season last season. Can the Huskers beat Iowa on the road again in 2024? The answer to that question is yes. Nebraska will defeat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City in a nail biter to finish 8-4 in the regular season to have momentum to build off of going into its first bowl game since 2016.

Projection: 20-17

Record: 8-4 (5-4 B1G)

Main Image: © Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

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