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Why an unranked Nebraska team should make fans happy

No doubt Alabama fans are hooting and hollering once again as the Crimson Tide takes both No. 1 spots in the AP and Coaches’ polls. It’s great to get some early recognition, but that’s the problem. It’s early. Alabama got an amazing 52 first place votes in the AP poll. About that…

Sure, the Tide could be the first to break that streak, but a 40-year sample is a pretty sizable one. Nick Saban has built a video game-level dynasty and while modern-day Nebraska fans still chomp at the bit for conference titles, Saban’s fan base clamors for the big prize every year. Why not? They’ve been able to celebrate it so often lately.

Saban has managed to bring it home the newest trophy that outshines them all since the College Football Playoff’s installation but as Nebraska fans know, all good things must eventually come to an end.

As dominant as Alabama currently is, there will be a time when they claim the top spot in August, but lose it come season’s end on repeated occasions. The chances of that happening will only increase when — yes when — the playoff expands.

While Nebraska won’t claim a dynasty like Saban’s overnight (assuming that’s even possible in CFP era college football), they can take a step back towards greatness in 2017. It all starts with a little faith. I’m sorry, not a little. None.

The Huskers received a grand total of 27 votes in both preseason polls. On the surface, this makes perfect sense. Losing a starting quarterback, three of the top most productive receivers, a starting tight end, etc. Sure, based on that alone, it looks like the Big Red could be staring at a 7-5 season, if not worse. The majority expects Nebraska to be mediocre, maybe even poor enough to get Mike Riley fired.

This can’t be said with any concrete evidence because even if you’ve stood on the sideline and watched practices or sat in the stands and taken in a scrimmage, you know some things about what Nebraska brings to the table, but much like Jon Snow, we truly know nothing.

Okay, we know that the Huskers are going to utilize the screen game and Tanner Lee has shown both the ability to make quality throws and run through progressions, but what else? When will we see the full arsenal of what Riley, Danny Langsdorf and Bob Diaco can do?

Oregon? Wisconsin? Ohio State? Penn State?

We just don’t know and that’s where the beauty of how an unranked start helps Nebraska. The only people who know the realistic expectations are the Nebraska Cornhuskers themselves.

How many years has it been now where Husker fans have wanted to proclaim the Big Red “back?” Heck, many college football fans want this because the game is simply better when the blue bloods are a threat.

Surely someone out there can revive Texas and Notre Dame. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Seminoles and Hurricanes put on a classic every year again?

2017 is Nebraska’s chance to step forward and say “Guess who’s back?” Assuming things go well this year, 2018 gives the Huskers an opportunity to say they’re here to stay thanks to a hellacious schedule.

The pollsters see Nebraska as a team spinning its wheels, maybe capable of another four-loss season and history backs that up. It’s time to write a new chapter and it doesn’t begin thanks to disrespect. It starts with a surprising blow or two and the Huskers have the ability to get those in this year.

Nebraska doesn’t deserve the spotlight yet, but they’re poised to take it back from out of the shadows.

To comment or keep up with the author, follow Brandon on twitter at @eightlaces

A member of the Football Writers Association of America, Brandon has spent over a decade reporting on and researching college football, both the sport itself and recruiting.

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