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Let’s continue on with our 2012 college football previews. Next up is the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
2012 College Football Previews: Nebraska
Head Coach: Bo Pelini
Nebraska Cornhuskers Gambling Odds from JustBet to Win BCS Championship: +3,300
Nebraska Cornhuskers Gambling Odds from JustBet to win Big 10 Conference: +300
Expectations are extremely high at Nebraska. A 9-4 season might be ok somewhere else, but the Cornhusker fans were less than pleased with last year’s efforts. The team only went 5-3 in the Big 10, and they were blown out 30-13 by South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. Can this year’s team reach higher heights?
Nebraska is all about running the football on the offensive side of the ball. Taylor Martinez is one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation. He is also one of the worst passing quarterbacks in the country. Rex Burkhead is an underrated runner who does everything well for the Cornhuskers. Burkhead had 1,357 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns last season, and he also caught 21 passes out of the backfield. If Nebraska is going to take the next step and be serious contenders in the Big Ten, Martinez has to become a more reliable passer.
The Cornhuskers have a strong offensive front that should help them a great deal in 2012. In addition, there are play makers on the outside if Martinez can get them the ball. Kenny Bell is a long distance threat at wide receiver. Ben Cotton is a sure-handed tight end who should have a big season. The bottom line here is Nebraska must find more balance.
There wasn’t a more disappointing defense in college football last year than the Nebraska Cornhuskers. A group that was supposed to be very good simply didn’t get the job done. Nebraska finished dead last in the Big Ten in tackles for a loss. The pass rush wasn’t good enough, and the front four didn’t get into the backfield nearly enough.
Jared Crick and Lavonte David are both gone, and they were considered the team’s top two defensive players. Still, Nebraska has a couple stars on campus in Baker Steinkuhler and Will Compton. These are two guys who have to shore up the front seven and make this team tougher to run the ball against. Both Michigan and Wisconsin gashed this front seven last season. The secondary has a lot of depth and athleticism, and they should be the strength of this defense.
2012 Nebraska Football Predictions: 8-5
I just don’t see Nebraska as an elite Big Ten team right now. They are far too one-dimensional on offense, and their defense is no better than middle of the road in this conference. They have a difficult schedule once again inside the conference. Nebraska must travel to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa. They must also face Wisconsin and Michigan at home. Basically, the Cornhuskers have to play all of the best teams in the Big Ten.
If Martinez can throw the ball better then my prediction of eight wins will certainly be surpassed, but the Cornhuskers aren’t likely to be in the running for the Big Ten title unless there are some major changes in Lincoln for 2012.