The Nebraska Cornhuskers will enter the 2011-2012 NCAA
Football season as a prohibitive favorite to win the Big Ten Legends Division. In early college football futures Nebraska is at
18-1 as a potential National Champion.
Key Issues on Offense
Despite rumors of a transfer, talented redshirt sophomore
Taylor Martinez will run the Nebraska Cornhusker
offense next season. Martinez
is a special talent who can make big plays with his arm or using his legs.
Speaking of legs, the ‘Huskers will also have to replace Roy
Helu, Jr. in the backfield. The starting nod will likely go to talented junior
Rex Burkhead, who proved himself several times last season when Helu was unable
Both Martinez and Burkhead
may struggle a bit next season, however, as Nebraska will be replacing 3/5 of its
offensive line, including All Big-12 right guard Ricky Henry. Look for position
battles during the spring and fall as the Cornhuskers attempt to rebuild their
Tim Beck, formerly the running backs coach, will take over
as offensive coordinator. He has familiarity with the offensive system, so this
should be a fairly smooth transition.
returns six starters on offense. The ‘Huskers should be fine at the skill
positions, but the offensive line is a major concern.
Key Issues on Defense
is going to be very solid on defense, as the Cornhuskers return eight starters
from a unit that only allowed 17.2 ppg. The key loss will be cornerback Prince
Amukamara, a projected top-ten NFL Draft pick.
The defensive side of the ball has two new coaches, as Corey
Raymond and Ross Els will lead the secondary and linebackers, respectively. I
would expect head coach Bo Pelini is confident that these hires can maintain
his defensive expectations.
Look for the ‘Huskers to remain near the top of college football in defense, with a slight drop (perhaps) in the secondary.
According to most experts, Pelini hauled in a top-20 signing
class. On offense, look for five-star running back Aaron Green to share carries
with Burkhead in the fall. We could also
see the beginning of a major quarterback battle with the arrivals of Jamal
Turner and Bubba Starling of Lincoln.
Turner could see some action next year at receiver or in a Wildcat setting. Nebraska also did well
on the offensive line, and it will be interesting to see if they have any true
freshmen in the running for starting positions.
On defense, the star recruit is cornerback Charles Jackson.
He is likely to contribute to the secondary right away, and could lesson the
impact of the loss of Amukamara.
The Legends Division is weak, with Iowa,
and Northwestern joining the Cornhuskers. Iowa
and Michigan State
must both visit Lincoln
next season, so a 5-0 division mark is not out of the question. I believe Nebraska will be in the
Big Ten title game.
BCS Championship aspirations, however, may very well die
over a two-week period beginning on October 1. Nebraska
will make its first Big Ten visit to Camp
Randall on that day, and then must
prepare for a showdown with Ohio State in Lincoln
the next weekend. A 1-1 record would be outstanding, but I would lean toward
0-2, taking the ‘Huskers out of contention. A visit to Penn State
in November will also be a major roadblock.
BCS? Maybe. BCS
has the talent to win the Legends Division of the Big Ten, but the schedule
simply does not support a BCS Championship bid. The offensive line is a major
concern, and one never knows how new coaches will actually perform once the
season begins. I view Nebraska as a 10-2
regular season club, losing two of three to Ohio State,
Wisconsin, and Penn State.
Afterwards, the Cornhuskers would likely face Ohio State
again in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Don’t throw your money away on this 18-1 shot at Bodog.
Thanks to yahoo.com,
espn.com, rivals.com, si.com, and huskersgameday.com for all records,
statistics, and recruiting information.