The Nebraska Cornhuskers will host the Wyoming Cowboys to kick off a 2013 season that arrives with big expectations.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini led his team to a 10-4 season last year, which was good enough to win a Big Ten division title and give the coach his fifth straight season of nine or more wins since he's been at Nebraska.
With a strong core returning, which includes senior quarterback Taylor Martinez, the Cornhuskers are favored by most to win the Legends Division this year.
Nebraska shouldn't have many problems against Wyoming in the opener. The Cowboys have a solid passing offense, but this team was able to go just 4-8 last season and will be overwhelmed in this tilt.
Check out the vitals for catching this game, and then I'll get a little more in depth with the preview.
When: Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
TV Info: Big Ten Network
Spread: Nebraska -30
No injuries to report.
Kevin Williams, DT, out (knee)
All injury information via USA Today.
Top 25 Implications
Nebraska sits at No. 18 in both the USA Today and AP polls. Obviously, the Cornhuskers would plummet with a loss in this game and will likely drop with anything short of big win.
Wyoming Player to Watch: Brett Smith, QB
Junior quarterback Brett Smith is experienced and talented. A two-year starter, Smith is coming off of an outstanding season.
Last year, he threw for 2,832 yards and a sexy touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27-6.
That was good enough to have him finish 13th nationally in 2012 in Total QBR (74.6) and make the Manning Award watch list.
Smith isn't limited to making plays with his arm, either. He moves well with the ball. However, he began to become more of a pocket passer last year, as he saw his rushing total go from 710 yards in his freshman season to 248 last year—although he still ran for six scores.
Smith is poised for a big year, and he will get the stage to prove that against Nebraska.
Nebraska Player to Watch: Taylor Martinez, QB
It's hard to believe Taylor Martinez still has eligibility left. After being at the center of Nebraska's offense for the past three seasons, it feels as if he's been there for twice that long.
However, I'm sure Nebraska isn't complaining he still has eligibility left. He is ready for a big close to his college career.
While Martinez was largely just a running quarterback when he arrived at Nebraska, he's made great strides in the passing game. His yardage and touchdowns through the air have increased in each season. Unfortunately, his interceptions have, too.
Last year, Martinez threw for 2,871 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That is not a terrible ratio in any way, but Nebraska will need him to limit his mistakes to be elite this year.
Also, while he's improved his passing, he can still run. He went for over 1,000 yards on the ground last season.
If Martinez continues his progression as a passer, Nebraska will be dangerous.
Prediction: Nebraska 42, Wyoming 24
Nebraska's offense will shred Wyoming early in this game and establish control. The Cornhuskers will take their foot off the gas a bit as this game progresses, and a solid Wyoming offense will come through with a couple of late scores to make the final score a little more respectable.