Head Coach: Bo Pelini | Record: 39-16; 4 Years | Offensive Coordinator: Tim Beck | Defensive Coordinator: John Papuchis | Returning Starters: 17: 8 Offense, 7 Defense
Sep. 3 Chattanooga W 40-7
Sep. 10 Fresno State W 42-29
Sep. 17 Washington W 51-38
Sep. 24 at Wyoming W 38-14
Oct. 1 at Wisconsin L 48-17
Oct. 8 Ohio State W 34-27
Oct. 15 OPEN DATE
Oct. 22 at Minnesota W 41-14
Oct. 29 Michigan State W 24-3
Nov. 5 Northwestern L 25-28
Nov. 12 at Penn State W 17-14
Nov. 19 at Michigan L 17-45
Nov. 25 Iowa W 20-7
Capital One Bowl
Jan. 2 South Carolina L 13-30
Sep. 1 Southern Miss
Sep. 8 at UCLA
Sep. 15 Arkansas State
Sep. 22 Idaho State
Sep. 29 Wisconsin
Oct. 6 at Ohio State
Oct. 13 OPEN DATE
Oct. 20 at Northwestern
Oct. 27 Michigan
Nov. 3 at Michigan State
Nov. 10 Penn State
Nov. 17 Minnesota
Nov. 23 Iowa
Coming in at #22 on our Top 25 list is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska, in their first season as a member of the Big Ten conference, was expected to just come in and dominate the conference. That, well, didn’t exactly happen. In their first ever Big 10 game, they got beaten down at Wisconsin by a score of 48-17. They weren’t bad a bad team last year; in fact, they were good. They had some quality wins, and made some highlights en route to a 9-4 inaugural season in the conference. The problem is, that they just can’t seem to make that next step: from good to great under Bo Pelini.
“We’re sick of being a good team,” said senior I-back Rex Burkhead.
Nebraska has lost four games in each of the last four seasons under Bo Pelini, good for a 39-16 record.
This season, at least to me, looks to be no different, as I can easily see them being a good team, but I just can’t see them being better than that, at least with Taylor Martinez at quarterback.
At first look, the offense looks to be in great shape with eight full-time starters and four other players with starting experience returning. Of those players returning are two 1,000 yard rushers, a third year starting quarterback, and some quality offensive lineman.
However, I just can’t seem to trust this offense to be anything more than explosive at times. They lack consistency, and that all starts with quarterback Taylor Martinez. Martinez, a third-year starter, still isn’t a threat in the passing game. He is a great running quarterback (874 rushing yards last season), and at times can look like a Heisman candidate. Unfortunately for Nebraska, there are other times in which he can look like he shouldn’t even be on the team, like at Michigan last year where he completed under 40% of his passes for 122 yards.
He has said to have improved his footwork greatly this offseason but I am taking a wait-and-see approach with this one.
Martinez certainly is complemented with a great running back in Rex Burkhead, however, that does take at least some weight off of his shoulders. Burkhead rushed for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, while being the focal point of everyone’s gameplans. Last season, he rushed for over 100 yards in over half of their games and over 75 inall but three.
Burkhead will need to continue to be a star to keep Nebraska’s offense afloat, especially in games where Martinez is nowhere to be seen.
In the first three seasons under Bo Pelini, Nebraska was known for their defense. They were dominant and filled with star power such as Ndamukong Suh, Prince Amukamara, and Jared Crick.
So last season, when the defense struggled, ranking only 37th nationally in yards per game, it shocked everyone. They lose their three biggest playmakers from last year’s team so Pelini will need to work his coaching magic to get this defense back to where it should be.
The front seven seems to be very talented and experienced and the secondary has a lot of players that could see significant time.
Watch out for junior college transfer Mohammed Seisay. Seisay showed signs of emerging as a playmaker after a solid spring.
Pelini has gotten Nebraska back to being a good football team but they still need to make that next step as a program. They have a tough schedule this season, so unless Martinez can become more consistent, and make the offense more balanced, along with a return to the “Blackshirts” defense, I just can’t see Nebraska making that step this season.