Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Nebraska fans were not happy at the end of last year's 8-4 campaign. How much worse would it have been, though, if Nebraska had ended 2013 at 7-5 instead of 8-4? Would head coach Bo Pelini, who barely kept his job at 8-4, have survived a 7-5 mark?
Well, you can thank a reliable kicker for getting Nebraska to 8-4 last year. In between the Michigan State and Iowa games was an overtime win over Penn State on the road, in which transfer kicker Pat Smith had to hit a clutch field goal twice (due to a penalty on Nebraska) to seal the victory.
This year, Nebraska’s place-kicking battle is between junior Mauro Bondi, who has never inspired enough confidence from the coaches to earn the job outright, and true freshman Drew Brown. Long snapper Gabe Miller has been out the entire fall camp due to injury but is working hard at a comeback, according to Mike Schaefer of 247Sports.
Nebraska has been living on the edge for some time, going 9-1 in games decided by three points or less. With questions in the kicking game, those numbers will bite Nebraska this year.