I haven't mentioned the Huskers in a while, but have been keeping track of the progress the team has made over the first half of the season. While a 4-3 record isn't going to bring back memories of the Osbourne era, the team has appeared to make signifigant progress on both sides of the ball the last two weeks since the blowout by Mizzou. First they took Texas Tech, the 7th ranked team in the nation at the time, into overtime only to have QB Joe Ganz throw an intereception when it appeared the team could slip by the Raiders after they missed the PAT after their overtime TD. Last week NU played its most complete game of the season, running for over 200 yards, throwing for another 300 and holding the Clones to 218 total yards and giving up only a 60 plus yard TD run in the third quarter in winning 35-7. This leaves NU at 1-2 in the conference, but trailing only KU (which is 2-1) in the North standings. Pre-season North favorite Missouri is also 1-2 after losing to Texas and Okie St.
First of all, I don't expect this to happen, but only want to point out it is possible while highly improbable. Admittedly, NU winning the North would be a pretty wild stretch, but it could happen if everything happens to go the Huskers way. Mizzou still has the inside track with games upcoming against CU, @ Baylor, K St, @ ISU and finishing with the Kansas border war. They could win out, but should they stumble against CU & KU, they finish 4-4. KU is at 2-1 but has a brutal schedule upcoming against TT, K St, @ NU, Texas and finishing at UM. Another stretch, but should they lose to Tech, NU, and UT while beating K St & Mizzou, they would also finish 4-4. CU is also 1-2 right now after edging K St last week. They travel to UM and A&M, get ISU and OSU at home before finishing against the Huskers. With another improbable series of events where CU wins the first three and loses the last two, they also finish 4-4. K St is also hanging at 1-2, but I do not see them making any kind of run facing OU, @ KU, @ UM, NU and then finishing with ISU, the only game of the five I see them winning. ISU is 0-3 and the only game I see them possibly winning is this week against A&M. They go to OSU and CU then get UM and K St at home to end the season.
This leaves NU, which has an admittedly long road to travel to get there; given the way things have clicked recently it does make the rose colored glasses stylish again and the Kool-aid taste sweet. This is a wildly optimistic projection, but crazy things happen in college football. NU can finish 5-3 in conference play and win the North if they win out and lose to OU, beating Baylor, KU, @ K St and CU. OU on the road is an almost impossible game for us to win, but K St there and the rest of the games in Lincoln is certainly within the realm of possibility, although KU will be a tough game for us to win. We could also wind up going 2-3 (beating BU & K St) to finish the season just as easily, but I think bowl eligibility is certainly in the cards.
The key game for this whole scenario I am envisioning is this week with the CU-UM game whereby CU pulls off the upset. Rooting for CU is a nearly impossible task for me, but I am learning the dislike the Tigers nearly as much. Obviously, the other key game is NU-KU and the Huskers will have to play their best game of the season.