Competitive National Recruitment Analyst Clint Cosgrove together with Kyle Kelly of InsideNDSports.com, Jon McNamara BadgerBlitz.com and Zack Carpenter of InsideNebraska.com deal with the three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.
1. Notre Dame fans should be concerned about CJ Carr’s slow start.
Cosgrove’s: FICTION. Even the most elite players sometimes have a game or two in their career. The most likely time for that to happen is the first game of the season, when the roster is filled with new faces and the team is still learning to gel. While CJ Carr’s first game of his junior season left a lot to be desired, he’s not immune to hiccups either. It would be lazy to base Carr’s entire evaluation on one-game performance as opposed to his full body of work.
Carr is about as polished as you’ll find a quarterback at this stage of their career. He has plenty of arm talent and intangibles to match. There is no reason to panic in South Bend and Carr will be fine. I’d argue that he’ll be better off with a slow start in the long run because it gives him a chance to overcome adversity and show his resilience moving forward.
Kelly’s take: FICTION. While Carr had four turnovers Thursday night against Hudsonville (Mich.) High, it’s not time to hit the panic button. Carr and Saline (Mich.) High still rallied to win 24-15. In the season opener, he completed 71.4 percent of his passes (30 of 42) and threw for 327 yards (7.8 yards per attempt). Not to mention he also had two rushing touchdowns.
Carr’s second season as a full-time varsity quarterback started last Thursday, so there’s plenty of room for growth. His flashes make him one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in 2024. Mistakes happen, but if it doesn’t become a daily routine, there’s no need to sound the alarm.
2. Wisconsin is the team to land four-star quarterback Corey Smith.
Cosgrove’s: FICTION. While Wisconsin has the advantage of being a home state team and has as good a chance as any school to recruit Corey Smith, the Badgers have to prove they still have the statewide recruiting edge before I’m willing to say they’re a team. to beat for Smith. Traditionally, Wisconsin has locked down the door for in-state prospects, but in 2022 we saw two of the state’s top three players go elsewhere. In a day of increased recruiting and the NIL, there are few guarantees when it comes to highly sought after recruits like Smith and Wisconsin is no longer guaranteed to land every top player in the state like it once was.
McNamara: REALITY. Corey Smith is nowhere near the point in his recruiting where he’s ready to narrow his focus or talk favorites. But heading into the fall, Wisconsin and Notre Dame feel like the two schools that will be in the spotlight until the very end. The local Badgers made Smith a priority early in the process, and the Waukesha Catholic Memorial standout has already been on campus several times. When we checked in earlier this month, the four-star running back called Wisconsin an “RBU” and the prospect of staying home and being the next big-time quarterback at UW is something that intrigued him. In the end, it looks like a battle the Badgers will win, but there is still a long way to go and more scholarship offers to come in the next few months.
3. Nebraska bounces back from its Week Zero loss to Northwestern and heads into a bowl game.
Cosgrove’s: REALITY. I’ve seen enough NebraskaWeek Zero debacle to make me feel like the Huskers will be competitive in most games this season. If the Huskers had gotten an inside kick or decided to waive it entirely, I’m not sure we’d be having this conversation right now. There’s a lot to fix at Lincoln, but bumps in the road are to be expected when you have a slew of new faces on staff paired with a roster of bumpy moves.
The next two must win games and Nebraska will likely go 2-1 in the home slate Oklahoma. In the unlikely scenario that Nebraska beats the Sooners, I consider a six-win season a lost cause. Despite the loss to the Sooners, the schedule is lacking state of ohio and Penn State, there are currently only two other teams in the top 25, and the remaining unranked games should be tossups. The Huskers also have the talent advantage in at least six of their remaining games. That’s in a year Scott FrostWork is on the line, I think they’ll be done by six.
Carpenter’s View: REALITY. There’s no sugarcoating it – at least if you’re honest – Saturday’s loss was brutal both in the way it happened and the impact it could have had. That’s not to say Nebraska won’t rebound to finally reach a bowl game for the first time under Scott Frost. But now it’s an even steeper uphill battle. There is no way I can be serious about predicting an upset over Oklahoma, so the most realistic outcome is a 3-2 record heading into the opposing battle. Rutgers and Purdue. In pursuit of a 7-5 or 6-6 record this season, this has now become the most important two-game stretch for the Huskers this season. On paper, the Huskers should beat Rutgers and Purdue. But on paper, they should have beaten Northwestern as well. I feel weird predicting a Rutgers loss and a Purdue win — or vice versa — but I think those opinions are much more justified after watching Saturday’s game.
I expect a 4-3 record Illinois, MinnesotaMichigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Finishing 2-3 during this five-game stretch is absolutely achievable, but it’s hard to say with much confidence after the implosion we witnessed on Saturday.
The Huskers are going to have to show me — and everyone else — real improvements after that loss on the field before I make a confident statement about where this season is headed. I think that’s fair.