With the 2009 season over and spring football around the corner, it is time to look ahead to the 2010 season.
After the Holiday Bowl performance against Arizona, Husker fans are extremely excited about the 2010 season. And with a weaker schedule they should be.
With 10 starters back on offense and six on defense, we are positioned perfectly to make an extraordinary run.
Now keep in mind that all of these predictions are made with the assumption that all starters are healthy throughout the year on all teams.
Key returners: Dejon Gomes, Eric Hagg, Prince Amukamara, Jared Crick, and Pierre Allen
Key Losses: Ndamukong Suh, Phillip Dillard, Matt O'Hanlon
With Bo's prediction that our defense would be better than last year's, it got a lot of us thinking. So I looked into it.
Replacing Suh is impossible. I have never seen such a dominant player in my life, and to expect Crick will be that good next year is stupid.
Replacing Dillard will come down to Matthew May, Will Compton, and JUCO transfer Lavonte David. Hopefully they can learn the defense as well as Dillard did because these guys are athletes.
The secondary will be the strong point of the defense. Yes, we lose Asante and O'Hanlon, but we have P.J. Smith to replace Asante, and Thenarse to replace O'Hanlon.
With the shocking news that Lee had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his throwing arm, he gained my respect. He played all year with that injury and didn't let anyone know.
He has the arm and the feet to make plays. He just needs to become more of a leader and get more comfortable. It seemed like he was never able to get into a rhythm all year.
Cody Green will challenge Lee for the starting spot, but won't be close in the end. His arm isn't there right now and his decision making is poor, but will increase with playing time.
Martinez will be the third string and will only see time if Lee or Green is hurt and the game is out of hand. On that note, they will redshirt Brion Carnes. Kody Spano will be a no name on the team—too bad for a guy who left high school early.
With one of the worst out-of-conference schedules in a long time for Nebraska, it would be hard to argue against this.
The only team that could hand Nebraska a loss in the non-conference schedule is Washington. And that's only because it's at Washington. Jake Locker is a good quarterback but the defenses in the Pac-10 are nothing compared to Nebraska.
Western Kentucky, South Dakota State, and Idaho will be happy that they are getting paid to play here. It will also be a great experience for their players to come and play in such a great venue.
It will also be a look into the future as we see a lot of backup redshirt freshmen come in for mop-up duty.
Husker fans, it's going to happen. With two tricky road games in Manhattan and in College Station, it's going to be difficult to run the table.
Texas A&M is on the rise after that monster game they had against Texas. Johnson is an extremely good QB and playing in College Station is a task in itself.
Snyder got K-State to a point where nobody thought they would be. They were one game away from playing Texas in the Big XII championship game. They will be looking to pull the upset on ESPN on a Thursday night. Especially since our next game is against Texas.
We always have that one game that we just don't show up for. Last year it was Texas Tech. This next year, if we don't show up for a game it will be a loss. No matter who it is. We need to come with intensity every single game and expect to win.
With the game in Lincoln and the revenge factor on Nebraska's side, it is going to be tough on the Longhorns. With no McCoy or Shipley, their offense will struggle at the beginning of the year.
One of the toughest places for an opposing team to come in and win is here in Lincoln. Now I didn't say toughest, I said one of the toughest. It will be a night game and College Gameday will be here. It is going to be the coming out party for the 2010 Huskers.
Both teams should be ranked in the top 10, if not top five by this point. People will doubt the Huskers because of the out-of-conference schedule. Bo will have them on the bandwagon after this game.
I'm not saying it will be a blowout. I just think that Nebraska will beat them and show the country that we are for real.
Helu is probably the best no-name back. Nobody in the country outside of the Big XII North really knows who he is. And that is not a good thing for Husker opponents.
Last year he hurt his shoulder early in the year against Missouri. Add that with a dinged up offensive line, and you've got one big mess. Thankfully, talented true freshman Rex Burkhead was able to step in.
This coming year, Roy will be healthy and with an extremely talented and deep offensive line, he is ready for his coming out party. Last year he eclipsed 1,000 yards. Barring injury, he should rush for at least 1,500 next year.
With our secondary being the strength of the defense and our defensive line full of studs again, it all rests on the linebackers.
Phillip Dillard was underrated last year and will really be missed. We have the athletes to fill in for him, but they are all young and inexperienced. Will Compton is a name that comes up first when thinking about a replacement.
The thing with Compton is that he had trouble understanding what he was doing. Bo had his own set of signs for Will during the game. That let him know where he was supposed to be and what to do.
Sean Fisher is another linebacker who had a little playing time last year. He is a decent athlete but is too slow to play in the dime package like Dillard did last year.
Lavonte David is looking like a great prospect to come in and play right away. If he can learn this defense very quickly, then don't be surprised to see him starting at some point in the year.
With home games against Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado, it would make sense to make Nebraska the favorites. Kansas State, on the road early in the year, will be a huge game.
If the Huskers can beat Kansas State on Oct. 7th, they will have a hold of the Big XII North. With Gill at Kansas—by the way great hire KU—nobody knows how good they will be. Iowa State will be at the bottom of the conference again, probably with Colorado. Missouri will be the game that decides who is the best of the North.
If Nebraska can beat Missouri on Oct. 30th, they will win the Big XII North. Missouri will end up with three conference losses: OU, Neb, Tx Tech.
Out of Oklahoma and Texas, OU has the easier conference schedule. That game in the Cotton Bowl will give the winner an edge in the South. It should be a pretty good game.
Nebraska will enter the game with one loss: at Texas A&M. Oklahoma will enter it with one conference loss: to Texas.
I believe that the game is played in Arlington again. If I'm wrong, please correct me on that. They need to go back to the alternate schedule again. One year in Arlington, the next in Kansas City.
It will be a great game, but won't have any national championship implications. Nebraska will get a BCS berth whether they win the game or not. I see Nebraska winning the game and going on to the Fiesta Bowl.
Most likely starting this year in the preseason top 15, possibly top 10, is going to put a bulls-eye on us. Bo knew what he was talking about when he said the team was going to be better.
With the schedule lined up the way it is and the key losses by Texas, it is set up for the Huskers to seize control over the Big XII. As long as the Huskers stay healthy and play every single game with full intensity, they will be a tough team to beat.
Let's hope for another great year in college football in 2010. Let all of us bring the Big XII back to where it should be. Go Big Red!