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Predicting the win total ceiling, floor for Nebraska in 2024

On3 imageby:Dan Morrison05/13/24


Predicting The Win Total Ceiling, Floor For Nebraska Cornhuskers In 2024 | 05.13.24

The 2024 season is going to be the second for the Nebraska Cornhuskers under Matt Rhule as he looks to rebuild the program. Within a rebuild like the one in Lincoln, the second season has often proven to be vital in the past and this season will likely be no different for Nebraska.

With all of that in mind, Andy Staples brought on Cody Bellaire to Andy Staples On3. There, the two broke down what they expect to see from Nebraska in 2024, giving a floor and a ceiling for the team next season.

Both of them were very positive about Nebraska moving forward. Part of that had to do with the construction of the roster and how the schedule shakes out in 2024. Either way, both are expecting the Cornhuskers to go to a bowl game in 2024.

CEILING: 9-3 or 10-2

Andy Staples and Cody Bellaire had a similar feeling about Nebraska this season, with Staples giving the Cornhuskers a ceiling of 9-3 while Bellaire had it a little bit higher at 10-2. Bellaire, in particular, is thrilled with what he’s seen from the team’s skill players.

“I love this Nebraska team going into 2024. Like, they had some great young guys break out last year. Cameron Lendhart, Princewill Umanmielen on defense, Malachi Coleman and Jaylen Lloyd on offense. They bring in Isaiah Neyor who, by the way, before his ACL was one of the most sought-after receivers in the portal coming out of Wyoming. They also got another receiver in Jahmal Banks from Wake Forest. They bring in Dante Dowdell from Oregon to compete at running back. Thomas Fidone is coming into his game at tight end,” Bellaire said.

“They signed a complete cyborg at the tight end position in the 24 class in Carter Nelson, who’s the farm boy from Ainsworth, Nebraska, playing eight-man football, who’s one of the freakiest athletes in the country. I love this skill group they’ve put together, and I think the defense is still gonna be good.”

At that point, Staples chimed in to make sure that Bellaire didn’t forget about Nash Hutmacher on defense.

“There’s a bajillion dudes, which is amazing. You say, ‘Wow, this Nebraska skill group is loaded,’ but they are. Even if they lose Chief Borders on defense, who entered the portal, this is a dynamic defense,” Bellaire said. “Obviously, I haven’t talked about it yet, but we’re getting there, what does this team look like at quarterback? If that was the biggest issue last year, they said, ‘Okay, we’ll try and fix that. We’ll just sign an industry five-star in Dylan Raiola and see what happens.’ That is, to me, the biggest kicker to all of this.”

Despite all of that, Andy Staples admitted he’s nervous about preseason hype for Nebraska normally. However, this season feels different.

“Now, I am very hesitant to pump sunshine in the offseason about Nebraska because I know how much these people get their hopes up. I know how much they — I have this theory that you kind of have to pump sunshine with Nebraska every offseason because it’s the only thing anyone wants to talk about there. There’s 94 sports talk stations. They have to do this, but this time I kind of believe it.”

On top of all of that, the early schedule is still very favorable to Nebraska, with Cody Bellaire arguing that 7-0 is possible before the Cornhuskers play Ohio State. That’s in a seven-game start to open the season against UTEP, Colorado, Northern Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, and Indiana.

“It’s real. Look at that schedule. They could start 7-0. Realistically, they could start 7-0. You’ve got four home games to start. You get Colorado Week 2. I think they can handle that one. But you go at Purdue, who we’re gonna touch on, not a great looking squad this year. You get Rutgers at home. At Indiana with a new head ball coach. This team could be going to Ohio State 7-0, and I don’t think that’s a stretch.”

Staples added to that, saying it’s hard to imagine the Cornhuskers not finishing with a winning record in the regular season this year.

“I don’t think that’s a stretch either, and here’s the thing, if you’re 6-1 you’re still already bowl eligible. So, that’s the hump you’ve got to overcome. Once you do that, then you’re playing with house money the rest of the year if you’re Matt Rhule. So, I think this will be very interesting,” Staples said.

“You said, maybe a fringe playoff contender. Maybe 10-2. I’ve got 9-3 at the ceiling.”

FLOOR: 6-6 or 7-5

Just like with the ceiling, Andy Staples and Cody Bellaire are on a similar plane though slightly off in where they see Nebraska’s floor for the 2024 season. That’s with Staples having slightly more concerns. That includes freshman quarterback Dylan Raiola, who is exciting. However, there is still plenty of reason to be tentative about crowing him just yet.

“That’s the thing, Dylan Raiola looked great in the spring game. That can be misleading. You can make the spring game look however you want as a coach. Let’s be real, if Matt Rhule wanted to, he could have shut down their offense entirely with telling Tony White just put the fangs back on the defense and let’s go. So, we don’t know what that offense is gonna look like. We do not know how it will look. I am assuming Dylan Raiola starts. Heinrich Haarberg gives you some experience behind him,” Staples said.

“But, if Dylan Raiola is pretty good, now he’s gotta take care of the ball. That was the downfall of Jeff Sims last year, like if Jeff Sims can take care of the ball better, they don’t lose to Minnesota, they’re going to a bowl game. They probably still lose to Colorado, but that end of the first half was such a disaster. They had no shot. But, you’re right, this is a team that if they’re better offensively, you’re talking about a completely different outlook… But I’ve got 6-6 as the floor. This team is going to a bowl game and that streak is getting snapped.”

For his part, Cody Bellaire had just about nothing negative to say about Nebraska. Because of that, he even has a slightly higher floor.

“I don’t disagree. I have their worst-case scenario 7-5. Worse case, they finish that first seven-game stretch 5-2? Then you just gotta win two more after that. I think that’s extremely possible and I think the Nebraska hype train gets rolling going into the following year.”