The Nebraska Cornhuskers Deserve to be Ranked

SportMonkAnalyst IDecember 8, 2008

Nebraska is just as deserving as any other 8-4 team to be ranked.

Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach ranked Nebraska 25th in the final USA Today Coaches' Poll, and Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini ranked his own Huskers 22nd.


Nebraska is 8-4, so let's look at the losses first. All rankings are from the latest BCS poll.

Sept. 27, No. 19 Virginia Tech (9-4, ACC champions), 35-30

Oct. 4, No. 21 Missouri (9-4, Big 12 North champions), 52-17

Oct. 11, No. 7 Texas Tech (11-1), 37-31 OT

Nov. 1, No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1, Big 12 champions), 62-28

All teams are ranked in the top-25. All but Texas Tech played for their conference championships. All but Virginia Tech have former or current Heisman trophy candidates leading the offense. Oklahoma is headed to the national championship. Nebraska played Texas Tech tighter than No. 3 Texas did.


Now let's look at the wins. The Huskers' non-conference schedule wins were against Western Michigan (9-3, MAC), San Jose State (6-6, WAC), and New Mexico State (3-9, WAC).

Nebraska's conference wins were againstย Iowa State (2-10), Baylor (4-8), Kansas (7-5), Kansas State (5-7), and Colorado (5-7) from the Big 12 North.

Nebraska's opponents are 82-65 combined, two of which are conference champions. Western Michigan finished 6-2 in conference behind only No. 22 Ball State.

Let's examine the competition, the six teams ranked 20 to 25, by the same format.

No. 20 Pittsburgh (9-3, 5-2 Big East)

The Panthers' losses came to Bowling Green (6-6), Rutgers (7-5), and No. 12ย (11-2, Big East champion).ย 

Pitt's signature wins came against Big East foes South Florida (7-5), West Virginia (8-4), Navy (8-4), Iowa (8-4), and MAC champion Buffalo (8-5).

Pittsburgh's key wins are slightly more impressive than Nebraska's, and they finished second in their conference and had a better record. But losses to unranked Bowling Green and Rutgers, along with the weaker Big East conference schedule, give Nebraska an edge.ย Pittsburgh does not deserve to be above Nebraska.

No. 21 Missouri (9-4, 5-3 Big 12)

Missouri's losses were to No. 13 Oklahoma State (9-3), No. 3 Texas (11-1), Kansas (7-5), and No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1).

Missouri's signature wins came against Nevada (7-5), Nebraska (8-4), Colorado (5-7), and MAC champion Buffalo (8-5).

Missouri lost every game but Baylor to the Big 12 South, like Nebraska, and tied Nebraska for the Big 12 North title (winning by head-to-head tie breaker).

Based on the head-to-head, Missouri deserves to be above Nebraska.

No. 22 Ball State (12-1, 8-1 MAC)

Ball State's only loss came in the MAC championship to Buffalo (8-5).

Ball State's signature wins came against Navy (8-4) and FCS opponents from the MAC.

Ball State nearly went undefeated in a non-BCS conference, but lost their conference championship to Turner Gill and Buffalo. Ball State's hopes at "busting" the BCS died with that loss.

Even though Ball State plays in an FCS, non-BCS conference, and Nebraska plays in the nation's (arguably) strongest conference, Ball State still deserves to be ranked above Nebraska because of what they've accomplished (in a weaker conference).

No. 23 Northwestern (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten)

Northwestern's losses came to conference foes No. 18 Michigan State (9-3), Indiana (3-9), and No. 10 Ohio State (10-2). Northwestern was lucky to have not played conference champion No. 8 Penn State.

Northwestern's signature wins came against conference foes Iowa (8-4), Minnesota (7-5), Michigan (3-9), and Illinois (5-7).

Northwestern's loss to pitiful Indiana, combined their weaker conference schedule against Big Ten opponents, does not deserve to be ranked above Nebraska, despite having a better record.

No. 24 Boston College (9-4, 5-3 ACC)

Boston College's losses came to conference opponents No. 14 Georgia Tech (9-3), North Carolina (8-4), Clemson (7-5), and No. 19 Virginia Tech (9-4) in the conference championship.

Boston College's signature wins came against NC State (6-6), No. 19 Virginia Tech (9-4) in the regular season, Notre Dame (6-6), Florida State (8-4), and Wake Forest (7-5).

Boston College played in the mediocre ACC conference and had soft non-conference wins over Kent State, UCF, Rhode Island, and Notre Dame (none of whom won more than four games this season). The weak conference, soft schedule, and loss to Clemson means Boston College does not deserve to be ranked above Nebraska.

No. 25 Mississippi (8-4, 5-3 SEC)

Ole Miss' losses came to Wake Forest (7-5), Vanderbilt (6-6), South Carolina (7-5), and No. 4 Alabama.

Ole Miss' signature wins came against No. 2 Florida (12-1), Arkansas (5-7), Auburn (5-7), LSU (5-7), and Mississippi State (4-8).

The voters have rewarded Ole Miss for the victory over Florida, but neglected the losses to mid-range SEC teams and a standard ACC team. No other Ole Miss victory is substantial enough to warrant it being ranked above Nebraska, so the Rebels do not deserve to be ranked above Nebraska.

In a perfect world, I would say I agree with Pelini that Nebraska should be ranked 22nd. In the unfair world we're in, I say we should be ranked 24th or 25th.

Nebraska's four losses were all to quality opponents. The Huskers got things done against everyone else they played, picking up a nice win over Kansas and tying Missouri for the North Division title. Nebraska played in the toughest conference in the country and took Texas Tech to overtime, as well as playing national championship-contending Oklahoma in Norman.

The Huskers are 8-4, well above expectation for coach Bo Pelini's first year, and deserve to be ranked.