The Nebraska Cornhuskers were a mere seconds from lighting the College Football Spread world on fire last December, in what could have been a shocking upset in the Big XII title game.
Unfortunately for Cornhusker nation the upset didn’t happen, as Texas hit a last second field goal and advanced to the BCS National Championship.
As we enter 2010 though, there’s renewed optimism in Lincoln. Can the beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers go over 10 regular season wins?
Last year really did mark the return of glory for this once proud program, as second year coach Bo Pelini led the Cornhuskers to a 10-4 record and a Big XII North title. Now they are looking to make that next step into the national elite.
When you talk Nebraska, things begin on the defense, where Pelini put together one of the game’s best units last year. Nebraska ranked No. 2 in college football in scoring defense (allowing just 11.2 points per game, second to only Alabama) and No. 9 in total defense, with opponents gaining just under 285 yards per game. While All-American defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is now gone to the NFL, there is still plenty of talent on this unit.
The star of the group is redshirt junior Jared Crick, who played alongside Suh last year to form one of the fiercest front lines in college football. How Crick is able to play without the massive Suh next to him will be key. Three linebackers return, and maybe just importantly Prince Amukamara, a potential All-American at cornerback. Even without Suh, this defense will still be one of the best in the college football betting game.
As for this offense, it is most definitely still a work in progress. Last year’s quarterback Zac Lee is back, but even partway through fall camp hasn’t earned the starting gig for this year. Taylor Martinez and Cody Green are hot on Lee’s tail, after the incumbent ended last season completing just 58 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Roy Helu does return at running back, after rushing for 1,147 yards last year.
Finally, let’s evaluate this Nebraska schedule. Looking at it, there’s no reason to suspect that they shouldn’t comfortably reach eight wins, but getting to 10 may prove difficult. They open with two winnable home games, before traveling to Washington, in a very tough, inter-sectional matchup. The Cornhuskers toughest conference games are both at home (Texas and Missouri), but they do have to travel to Texas A&M. Traditional rival Oklahoma is not on their schedule this year.