The Scott Frost era is (finally) over. Nebraska football fans can rejoice, but there is a sense of sadness that Frost didn’t work out in Lincoln despite being a legend of the program.
Instead, it was time to move on after another losing season and years of disparity in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers didn’t improve at all after Mike Riley and it felt like Bo Pelini’s returned would have even been welcomed after the nightmare that was the Frost era.
But the athletic department made an even better hire: Matt Rhule.
The former Carolina Panthers head coach previously led Baylor to a New Year’s Six bowl before darting for the NFL. Before that, he was at Temple and helped turn that program around.
Long story short, Rhule is a program builder.
So what are Nebraska’s year one expectations under the new head coach?
Realistic Nebraska football expectations for 2023
I hate bashing any coach, but the coaching in 2023 is going to be far better than anything Nebraska has seen since Pelini was roaming the sidelines, if not even better than that.
So by saying that, I already expect the Cornhuskers to surpass the four wins they had in 2022. Plus, I believe the talent level is even greater, especially with the transfer portal class of nearly a dozen players coming in. It feels like Rhule has a lot to work with.
That being said, the schedule is far from easy.
Nebraska opens the season with road games against Minnesota and Colorado before getting a couple of cupcakes in Lincoln against NIU and Louisiana Tech. The Cornhuskers will then host Michigan (loss) before going to Illinois. I think this team is capable of beating Illinois, especially if Casey Thompson plays to his potential.
They’ll come back home to face Northwestern and Purdue which should be two more wins, putting the Cornhuskers at four on the year, at least, by the end of October.
There could very well be two more wins in the final month between a road game at Michigan State, at home against Maryland, in Madison against Wisconsin, and at home against Iowa. My best guesses here would be wins against Maryland and Iowa. Heck, even add in a win early in the year against Colorado and we’re looking at a seven-win team. That’s realistic.
Best-case scenario, Nebraska steals a win at Michigan State, at Illinois, or at Wisconsin and beats Colorado as well to finish with eight wins.
Don’t expect that, however, but this team feels much more like a 6-7-win team than anything else and Rhule should be able to get the Cornhuskers to the postseason.