The Nebraska football season never ends up the way people think. Last season Nebraska was picked to win the Big Ten Conference and the Cornhuskers fell way short of that goal. This season Nebraska is hardly in the conversation for the teams who will compete for the Big Ten Championship.
Anything can happen from season to season. Here are my five BOLD predictions for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 2012 season….
Could this be the season Nebraska returns to the conference championship game or even a spot in the BCS?
Predicting Nebraska to earn a spot in a BCS game may be a year premature. Next year Nebraska will have the talent and a much easier schedule that will provide the Cornhuskers an excellent opportunity to return to the BCS.
It may not be that farfetched to believe Nebraska could win at least 10 games this season and end up in the BCS. Nebraska’s non-conference schedule is more difficult this season, but the Cornhuskers should win each game.
The stretch of five games in the middle of Nebraska’s schedule will determine the season. During that stretch, Nebraska plays Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. The Cornhuskers should be able to win at least half of these games.
Wisconsin will not be as good of a team as they were in 2011. The Badgers still have Monte Ball, but quarterback Russell Wilson will be missed. The Cornhuskers will be motivated at home in new uniforms to seek revenge on Wisconsin.
It will be difficult for the Cornhuskers to beat Ohio State in Columbus, but it could happen. Nebraska should be a better team in 2012, but I cannot say the same thing about the Buckeyes. If the Cornhuskers lose any of the four games in the middle of the season, the Ohio State game will be it.
Michigan is the popular pick to win the Legends division. The Wolverines play an incredibly tough schedule this year and I am not sure quarterback Denard Robinson will make it to the Nebraska game injury-free. If Robinson is injured, Michigan is a different team. The Wolverines' first trip to Lincoln will not be successful.
Michigan State has the best defense in the Big Ten Conference, but they will struggle on offense. Nebraska has always had the Spartans number, and I do not think that will change in 2012.
Nebraska finishes the season with games against Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa. Each of these games should be easy wins for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska will finish the season 11-1, play in the Big Ten Conference game and earn a trip back to the BCS.
The University of Nebraska is ready to promote running back Rex Burkhead for the Heisman Trophy. Husker Extra reported that the university will launch a website to help promote Burkhead for the Heisman Trophy.
It is not that unrealistic to believe Burkhead could win the trophy. Last season Burkhead touched the ball 305 times for 1,534 total yards and 17 touchdowns. If he is able to improve upon these numbers at all this season, Burkhead has a realistic chance to win the Heisman Trophy.
Nebraska lost defensive tackle Jared Crick, linebacker Lavonte David and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard to the NFL. Losing such skilled players from the team must be devastating for the Blackshirts defense. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”
Nebraska has many new players who could help the Blackshirts improve as a unit. On the defensive line, Vincent Valentine, Todd Peat Jr. and Greg McMullen could all step in and become much needed additions to the unit. If nothing else, they will add depth to the defensive line.
Linebacker Will Compton will be the leader of the defense. Newcomers Zaire Anderson and Jared Afalava could team up with returning players Trevor Roach and David Santos to form a skilled linebacker unit.
The secondary should also be much improved in 2012. Damion Stafford, Andrew Green and Ciante Evans all return. Newcomers Mohammed Seisay and Charles Jackson will add two new playmakers to the secondary.
Nebraska might not have the big-name players on defense like they did in 2011, but the group is deeper and should be much better in 2012.
The biggest game on Nebraska’s schedule in 2012 is the September 29 matchup against Wisconsin in Lincoln.
Nebraska was embarrassed last season in its game against the Badgers. The Cornhuskers have a lot to prove in this game and I think they will get the job done.
Nebraska will be wearing new uniforms, and we all know how excited a group of young men get when they have something new to show off.
Wisconsin better show up ready to play in this game or it could turn out to be a long night for the Badgers. If the Cornhuskers get a chance to run up the score, they certainly will.
It was not long ago when Cornhusker fans where cheering for quarterback Taylor Martinez, nicknaming him T-Magic.
After Martinez injured his ankle, he was not the same quarterback. This season Nebraska fans will see a different Martinez.
Martinez has worked out at the Manning Passing Academy, but that is not the reason why Martinez will be better in 2012.
Last season Martinez looked lost at times in offensive coordinator Tim Beck’s offense. Now that Martinez has had more than a year to learn the system, he will be able to make plays on instinct instead of having to think about what he is supposed to do. As a freshman, Martinez performed at his best when he used his instincts.
The most popular player on any team is the backup quarterback. Many Cornhuskers fans want Nebraska to give freshman Tommy Armstrong a chance to start at quarterback. How soon they forget how they were once in love with T-Magic.
Follow me on Twitter @HuskerMagic