Throughout August, we will be counting down the 25 teams (as listed here) going into the 2009 season. With today’s team being Nebraska, we’re inundated with blackshirts, corn, and the nicest fans in college football. The state is also known for Bright Eyes, serving as an “undisclosed location” for George W. Bush, and its state bird, the Western Meadowlark. That’s right, suck it, Eastern Meadowlark. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Impressions

When people think of the sleeping giants of college football, oftentimes the attention is turned to Notre Dame, Miami, or UCLA, but Nebraska fits just as easily as any of the above schools. 

Bill Callahan seemed like a disaster from day one but even his awful tenure didn’t affect the expectations of Big Red. 

As for their current situation, the Cornhuskers sit in the Big 12 North, a division that’s begging to be dominated by someone … anyone? If Bo (and while we’re at it, Carl) Pelini can add to what was a pretty great first season, the upper division is all but locked up.

The things that still come to mind, even if we’re not in a Husker heyday, is fast, quick-hitting defense, and a pounding, if not schematically different, offense. You can only keep these things down for so long. Hear that, Iowa State?

Last Year

After opening the season with three straight relatively painless wins, the Huskers hit a wall and lost three brutal games. Two of which were back and forth and lost late (Va. Tech and Texas Tech) and third was a good ol’ fashioned drubbing (Missouri). 

From October 18 on, though, the Huskers finished strong and went 6-1 while averaging 37.4 a game. This includes a solid 26-21 win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl – Bo Pelini’s first bowl win in as many years as a head coach in Lincoln. 

Simply put, Nebraska was better than everyone they played during this stretch (short of Oklahoma) and (hark!) they beat them. It’s a simple thought, but it’s always easier said than done, especially against some moderately talented teams (Kansas, Clemson, and … ok, that’s it, but still). 

If you’re a Husker fan, I’m assuming 9-4 and a win over an ACC team in a New Years Day bowl in Florida is more than encouraging. 

People

The biggest loss going into the fall is QB Joe Ganz, who closed out his senior season by putting up big numbers and winning. Good enough for me. Nebraska will miss the consistency of WRs Nate Swift and Todd Peterson, but have enough returning talent outside to give new QB Zac Lee a chance to succeed. 

I’m always all for thunder/lightning situations and the speed of Roy Helu Jr. and power Quentin Castille appropriately satisfy my need to equate ground games to weather systems. Castille scares me. In a good way. 

I’m always wary of complete sides of an offensive line needing to be “rebuilt,” so I’ll proceed with caution there. 

On the other side of the ball, the D-line is scary. Once again, in a good way. I like the way the name  “Ndamukong Suh” sounds way too much. It’s a bonus that he enjoys eating interior offensive linemen between meals. 

The secondary returns three above average players, while the linebackers return only one, but let’s be honest, the D-line will probably cover up for a lot of the inexperience behind the line. Ndamukong!

This Year

Wow, this is a really great schedule. Unbelievably so. Well, not if you like watching competitive football, but if you’re a fan of Nebraska wins, you should be satisfied. 

There’s no way they start anything less than 3-1, with their only actual game coming at Virginia Tech September 19. The tough road games the rest of the way are, well, I guess there’s only one – @Kansas November 14. 

The home games aren’t gimmes, but at least Texas Tech and Oklahoma come to the sea of red this year. I’m sure plenty of Husker fans won’t mind at all if Texas is extra physical with the Sooners three weeks before they come up north. 

Mm, KSU and Colorado to end the season? Yes please. 

Conclusion

There’s no reason to be particularly excited when a QB with virtually no experience steps into the starting role. Luckily, the chips aren’t particularly stacked against him, and the Huskers have a couple of games to get situated. I like a slight improvement over last season for Nebraska. Thanks, Big 12 North!!

The Prediction

9-3. Don’t even try to contain the Brothers Pelini (unless you’re on a team that storms the field behind a covered wagon). 

Highlights Set to Unfortunate Music

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9ZRBvT6cRs

-Dan