Better Know a B1G: Adv. Stat Comparison Nebraska Cornhuskers


This is the next in the series comparing some statistical rankings between BigTen opponents and UW. This week’s comparison is with the Nebraska Cornhuskers-a team that UW has had a history with. You can find the comparisons with Indiana here, Illinois here, Iowa here, Maryland here, Michigan here, Michigan State here, and Minnesota here.

Composite Ranking Comparison

We again start by looking at the final rankings in the Massey Composite (https://masseyratings.com/ranks) over the last 9 years between the teams.

For decades, Nebraska had one of the best football teams in the country. But as the graph about shows, they have not had much success recently. Only twice have they finished in the top 50-and one of those was when they finished #50.

SRS

Here is the picture in the Simple Rating System, SRS, (https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2023-ratings.html).

In this view, Nebraska finished slightly ahead of UW (0.14 vs 0.11) in 2020. Otherwise you see that UW has been consistently much better than Nebraska, even in 2016 which was when Nebraska had its last winning season (finishing 9-4) in Mike Riley’s (remember him? He previously coached at Oregon State) second season. I wonder if Cornhusker fans miss the days of Bo Pelini.

F+

Here’s a look at the F+ ratings for both teams. As a reminder, F+ is a combination of two advanced stats: FEI and SP+. This should be representative of most of the advanced stats.

This comparison looks similar to the Composite ranking. The question for Nebraska is whether the improvement in 2023 can continue in Matt Rhule’s second season.

If you didn’t follow Nebraska closely last season, you might not realize that they were similar to Iowa in that they had a terrible offense (#119) and a very good defense (#8).

Talent Comparison

Here is the talent comparison using the average rating by 247Sports for all of the scholarship players. (https://247sports.com/Season/2023-Football/CollegeTeamTalentComposite/)

Nebraska has improved their talent consistently over the years, and now they surpass UW in that area. But, as we know from above, that improvement in talent hasn’t led to a significant improvement in performance on the field-at least not yet. And that improvement in talent for Nebraska looks to continue since they added a 5-star recruit (QB Dylan Raiola) and seven 4-star recruits in the 2024 class.

Final Thoughts

Many people are projecting that 2024 is when Nebraska finally turns the corner with their football program. Some early pre-season rankings even have Nebraska in their top-25. That would be a huge improvement from their #71 finish last season. But, if their defense stays at a similar level and Dylan Raiola can get the offense to be half-way decent, they have a chance to make a big jump.

UW will not face Nebraska until 2026 when UW travels to Lincoln; Nebraska comes to Husky Stadium the following season. If Matt Rhule can get Nebraska back as a contender in the BigTen by then, and Jedd Fisch gets UW back too, it could be a couple of very good games between the programs-reminiscent of games of the past. Of course, those are a couple of big “ifs”.



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