Offensive Returning Starters: 9
Defensive Returning Starters: 4
There is the potential for a truly special season for senior-to-be QB Taylor Martinez and his offense. Four offensive linemen return, as does highly talented WR (and now productive) Kenny Bell. Yes, RB Rex Burkhead is gone, but Ameer Abdullah started more games and rushed for more yards in 2012, and he's not going anywhere. The big loss is TE Benkyler Cottonreed, which is what we've named the TE tandem of Ben Cotton and Kyler Reed, who were fantastic splitting time as seniors in 2012.
But past that and the departure of LG Seung Hoon Choi, that whole offense—which sure as heck was not a problem in 2012—is back. Taylor Martinez made major strides as a passer in 2012, and having nearly all of his starting cast back for more improvements and wrinkles means Nebraska could be hanging 35-40 points on whoever gets in its way in 2013.
The defense, though. Hoooo boy, the defense.
The famed "Blackshirts" had plenty of good games in 2012. They had some absolute howlers as well, including the 2012 Big Ten Championship (at this point all Nebraska fans have stopped reading and gone onto the next slide, and we do not blame them), where Wisconsin hung 539 yards rushing and 70 points on the Huskers.
And now the vast majority of talent that was there is gone. None of Nebraska's four returning starters got a sniff of postseason recognition from the Big Ten voters, save nickelback Ciante Evans—whom Steele may not even count as a starter, considering he lists two in the secondary and both cornerbacks Andrew Green and Josh Mitchell are back. So that's swell for the Huskers.
Still, the offense is so loaded that the Huskers are high on the list. Just be prepared for more shootouts.