Nebraska Football: Ranking the Best Home Games for the 2012 Season
Nebraska will open the 2012 season on September 1, which is just a little over a month away. Nebraska has some great games on the schedule, with several blockbuster contests coming to the historic Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers and the NCAA record of 317 consecutive sellouts.
But not all games are made the same. Nebraska has some games that will excite the fans, elicit national attention and have title implications. Others may turn out to be snoozefests.
Which home games rank as the best on 2012 schedule?
7. Idaho State
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The Bengals of Idaho State will come to Nebraska on September 22. This is not a game that the Huskers should struggle with, as the Bengals are on of the worst FCS teams in the nation. They've gone just 2-9 against legitimate D-1 programs, with blowout losses at the hands of BYU and Washington State.
This should be an easy game as the Huskers prepare for the huge game against the Badgers the next week.
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The Huskers' last home game of the season is against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota on November 17.
The Gophers will be an improved team under second-year coach Jerry Kill, but they will not have enough to upset the Huskers on their home turf. The Huskers cruised by the Gophers last season by a score of 40-14. Notably, all of Minnesota's points came in the second half.
This should be an easy game for the Huskers, but every year, the Huskers seem to lose one home game they shouldn't. With that in mind, Nebraska had better not overlook the Gophers.
5. Arkansas State
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Arkansas State could be the biggest trap game on the schedule. Arkansas State won the Sunbelt Conference last season and then they hired Gus Malazhan, the Auburn offensive coordinator, as head coach.
The Red Wolves return quarterback Ryan Aplin, who passed for over 3,500 yards and rushed for almost 600 last season. It will be interesting to see what he can do under Malazhan, who led Cam Newton to a Heisman trophy as a terrific dual-threat QB. Nebraska will need to limit the Red Wolves' offense and their star quarterback to avoid the upset.
4. Southern Miss
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The Golden Eagles are the first team to visit Lincoln on September 1. They had a terrific season last year, upsetting the Houston Cougars in the C-USA championship game.
Their head coach left for North Carolina and Larry Fedora, the defensive coordinator of South Carolina, took over the top job for Southern Miss.
Fedora will upgrade the defense for the Eagles. He was successful during his stint at South Carolina, which beat Nebraska last year.
However, the offense won't be as dangerous as it was last year; the Eagles lost both their top passer and rusher from 2011.
This could be a trap game for the Huskers if they are not prepared.
3. Penn State
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Who could forget last year's Penn State game? The Sandusky scandal. The prayer before the game. The way Penn State almost rallied.
It was a great game. This game will be different, though. Penn State may lose several players to transfer, including star running back Silas Redd. The Nittany Lions will also be without last year's top receiver, Derek Moye, whom they lost to graduation.
Penn State won't be a strong offensive team. The defense will still be good for the Lions, but we'll see if the defense will be enough to lead the Lions to victory. Keeping last year in mind, expect another great game from the Huskers' crossover rival.
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Last year, the Huskers traveled to Michigan and were competitive until the second half, when the game turned into a blowout.
This year, the Wolverines come to Memorial Stadium and the Huskers will be seeking revenge. The Wolverines return their two top offensive weapons in running back Fitzgerald Toussaint—though he's currently suspended—and QB Denard Robinson.
The Huskers will be better prepared on both sides of the ball this time. The offense looks to be better and the defense is deeper.
This game will have title implications. The Huskers and Wolverines will compete for the Legends division title, and the winner will have the inside track to the title game. This should be a fun and competitive game that will lead to big things for the winner.
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As in the Michigan game, the Huskers were competitive against Wisconsin in 2011 until halftime. In the final 30 minutes, they made mistake after mistake and the game turned into a blowout.
Since then, Husker nation has been waiting to return the favor to the Badgers. This is the first Big Ten game of the season for both squads. The Badgers return Heisman finalist Montee Ball and bring in Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien at QB to replace the departed Russell Wilson.
This game is also homecoming weekend for Nebraska, which adds to the terrific atmosphere. The Huskers will debut the alternate uniforms that were revealed last week.
There's also the chance that since both teams will be undefeated at this point, the College Gameday crew may show up for the first time since 2007. Add all that together, and you have a great game and a great atmosphere for the best game on the schedule for the Huskers.