First, the good news: 6-6 might sound like a logical spot, but the dice almost never land there.
In the last eight years, Las Vegas’ slide-rule club has nailed the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ over/under in regular-season football wins exactly once — at 10 in 2010.
Now for the, um, less good stuff, especially if you believe in patterns:
2009: NSAWins.com — 8.0 victories (Over)
2010: NSAWins.com — 10.0 (Push)
2011: Las Vegas Hilton — 9.5 (Under)
2012: Las Vegas Hotel & Casino — 8.5 (Over)
2013: 5Dimes — 9.5 (Under)
2014: 5Dimes — 7.5 (Over)
2015: 5Dimes — 8.0 (Under)
2016: South Point — 8.5 (Over)
Since 2011, the Huskers have hit the over in even years and the under in odd years. Under, Over, Under, Over, Under, Over. Clockwork.
So along comes 2017, and with at least two sportsbooks already weighing in and the under looming, we’ve got:
And yet …
One Las Vegas sportsbook has Nebraska’s win total at 6 for 2017. Does that make you more nervous about the upcoming #Huskers season?
— John Bishop (@JohnBishop71) May 19, 2017
Because let’s face it. No matter how long you stare at that pocket schedule, it’s hard, damn hard, to find seven losses in there with a straight face.
Unless you really want to see them, like the sail boat in Mallrats:
Arkansas State? Pluckier than you think, but unlikely.
At Oregon? Possible. One.
Northern Illinois? Also pluckier. Also unlikely.
At Illinois? A sneaky trip, and Lovie needs a good P.R. moment, granted. More than that, though, he needs capable bodies.
Wisconsin? Also possible, for reasons you already know far too well. Two.
Ohio State? So either you shock the world, or … fine. Three.
At Purdue? There are reasons to dig the Jeff Brohm hire. The cupboard and the schedule he inherited aren’t among them. If the Boilers drop 55 on a Bobby Diaco defense, Uncle Bob’s making the boys walk home.
Northwestern? The Fighting Fitzes seem to alternate playing out of their skulls against the Huskers with playing out of their skulls against the Hawkeyes. So ask us after Iowa visits Evanston on Oct. 21.
At Minnesota? Also possible, because Wisconsin is going want to stick an oar inside P.J. Fleck where the sun don’t shine. Four. Maybe.
At Penn State? Looking at Saquon Barkley clips and trying to get the images from that Hawkeyes tilt last November out of our heads. Failing. Five.
Iowa? Possible, but surely logic dictates that between the PTSD from the 2016 Black Friday Massacre and the prospect of Diaco unleashing the hounds, the worm finally turns. Otherwise …
@JohnBishop71 And Vegas claims Nebraska will only get 6 wins… something has to give
— B.G. (@HuskerB1Gchamps) May 26, 2017
The disrespect.. Nebraska at 6 wins? https://t.co/BaykNgr2Ew
— Kody Henderson (@kodyh3) May 28, 2017
Oddsmakers fear change, unless they’re counting it. New quarterback. New defensive coordinator. New defensive scheme. On paper, it adds up to the classic “transitional” year in Lincoln, the kind that follow almost any regime turnover.
We get it. Years 1 and 2 are about making the most of the guys you inherited. Years 3 and 4 are the real bar, a measure of the foundation you brought in and you developed.
Unless a) the circumstances veer toward the bizarre; or b) you’re Charlie Weis, the clock really starts running in that fourth season. Everything up to that point is preamble and gravy.
Then again, Year 4 of The Mike Riley Era — 2018 — features dates at Ohio State, at Michigan, at Wisconsin, at Iowa, at Northwestern, plus home games with Colorado and Michigan State.
Which can only mean one thing next summer, if history serves:
Bet the farm on the over, baby.
Your mortgage might depend on it. Come to think of it, Shawn Eichorst’s might, too.