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College Football Preview: #17 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Number 17 on our top 25 countdown is the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Huskers won nine games in their first year in the Big Ten, that’s pretty good. They joined an unfamiliar league, visited stadiums they’d never been to and did quite well. The season ended with a loss to South Carolina in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Now it is year two in the Big Ten. They will still visit a bunch of places they’ve never been, but at least they now have a year of Big Ten football under their belts. Back is quarterback Taylor Martinez, who is more runner than passer. He had 13 TDs and 8 picks a year ago. Also Rex Burkhead who rushed for 1357 yards and 15 touchdowns. Also back is WR Kenny Bell who caught 32 passes and 3 TDS last season.

But Nebraska will go as far as the defense will allow. Up front they are going to be good. But the secondary is suspect. Head Coach Bo Pellini is a defense oriented coach. So the pressure is on them. They have a converted wide receiver at cornerback is Stanley Jean-Baptiste. He is a great athlete, but he is a new guy at covering instead of getting open.  Baker Steinkuhler will lead the D-Line. He has to step up and lead the defense this season with a lot of pressure on him because of his family. His dad is a Nebraska legend, made even more famous by scoring a touchdown on the famous “Fumblerooskie” play.

Martinez is still learning how to throw the ball and avoid sacks and turnovers. Last season he was sacked way too often and his throwing mechanics were just plain ugly. If he has improved that over the off-season, then the Husker offense should be really good.

The schedule looks rough, but it’s the Big Ten so that’s to be expected. They open with Southern Miss, who they should beat but it will be no cake walk. Southern Miss is usually tough. Then they travel to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA the next week. Arkansas State comes in after that, led by Head Coach Gus Malzahn. Don’t sleep on the Red Wolves.

After a breather in week four against Idaho State they start Big Ten play. And that’s when it really gets rough. They get Wisconsin and Ohio State on back to back weeks. Then after an open date they get Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. Penn State should be pretty well depleted by then. Minnesota follows but then they close the regular season against Iowa.

So obviously the five game stretch when Big Ten Play starts is the make or break part of the season for Nebraska. If they get through that stretch and are still in the running for the Bit Ten title, watch out.

Nebraska finished 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games and was 1-4 in the over/under. Look for that trend to reverse in the first four games this year as we like them to win those games and score a lot. We also suspect teams will be able to score on them too. Bet Nebraska futures now at Wager Web

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Friday, August 10th, 2012 College Football 2012

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