When it comes to Nebraska football, there are essentially three separate epochs. There is the pre-Bob Devaney/Tom Osborne epoch, the Bob Devaney/Tom Osborne epoch and the post-Devaney/Osborne epoch. Unfortunately for Husker fans living through that third period of time, the third epoch of Nebraska football feels a lot like the first. That was underlined today when ESPN unveiled brand new FPI ratings for the college football world. The FPI is an attempt to look at a number of different factors to determine how an NCAA football team's record is going to look come the end of the season.

For the Cornhuskers, the pre-season FPI wasn't all that impressive, sitting at 5.5 but it's taken a turn downhill. While the FPI rating felt as though it was about as likely as not that the Huskers would at least post a six win, .500 at worst 2017, the Cornhuskers are now projected to have not only a losing season but a historically bad, losing season. The current FPI has the Huskers sitting at 4.1 wins and 7.9 losses. Obviously, those numbers are not realistic but show the statisticians think there is a very good chance the team could go 4-8. should they do that, it would be the worst record the program has posted in 56 years.

Nebraska football and the revenge of William Jennings?

While the Huskers have had some rather frustrating seasons since the Osborne/Devaney epoch ended, 2017 could end up being one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Nebraska fans have suffered through three losing seasons in the last 14 years. If the Cornhuskers ended up winning just four games in 2017, it would be the lowest total since 1961. That was ironically the last year of the very terrible William Jennings era. Jennings finished 1961 3-6-1. Jennings never won more than four games.

In other words, if the Huskers go 4-8, or worse, its a callback to the absolute worst period of Nebraska football. That should send a chill through even the most ardent supporters of Mike Riley.

The realism of a 4-8 season

While the FPI ratings of the Nebraska football team thinks a record around 4-8 is the most likely, how realistic is it really?

The 1-2 Huskers have a game this coming Saturday, in Lincoln, against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, are 1-2 like the Huskers, but their FPI for wins is 3.2. The week after that, Nebraska travels to play Illinois. The Fighting Ilini, despite being 2-1 so far have a lower FPI win project as well of 3.8.

Even after what has been a disastrous start to the year, most people expect the Huskers to win their next two games to improve to 3-2. The problem for the Cornhuskers is, where does another two or three wins come from? The two games after Illinois are against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Then Nebraska travels to Purdue to take on a Boilermaker team that has looked much improved under new head coach Jeff Brohm.

After that, it's back to Lincoln against Northwestern, then at Minnesota, at 4th ranked Penn State, and finishing the season against Iowa.Purdue is likely the only team Nebraska will be favored against the rest of the way unless we see marked improvement. Looking at the schedule, it feels like Nebraska football could be staring history in the face and not in a good way.