Even without Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska Cornhuskers Still a Force in Big 12 Race
Maybe the Cornhuskers aren't a legit top 10 team to start the season next year, but I highly doubt you would have wanted to play them after the thrashing they put on the Wildcats of Arizona.
Mark McGuire put it best: "I'm not here to talk about the past."
We know Ndamukong Suh is gone, and the offense still has some issues. Let's look at the upcoming year from a realistic perspective and decide where the Huskers can really finish.
Western Kentucky and Idaho should be considered wins. However, don't sleep on the Vandals, as they did make and win a bowl game and will be very motivated in this game.
Washington, S. Dakota State: This is where I believe it gets a little tricky.
No disrespect to the Jackrabbits form South Dakota State, but they don't have a chance.
Washington should be a tough game. The new coaching staff there has done a great job of turning around what was a once-proud program (even though it didn't completely show in wins last year).
Their recruiting has seen a shot of adrenaline, and they have a QB in Jake Locker that will be a first round draft pick in 2011.
This team also beat USC last year and, at times, played like a top 25 team.
Despite all this being said, they went down to the wire with an Arizona Wildcats team that got crushed by the Cornhuskers.
Even though it's an away game for Nebraska, they will be heavily favored and will enter the game ranked in the top five or 10 in the country. Bo Pelini will not let the Blackshirts overlook UW, and this game will be a low-scoring Husker win.
Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State: This also is tough to predict.
I believe K-State will be a much improved team with Bill Snyder at the helm in year two. He is great at developing talent and young men in general. The Cats will be playing with an unproven QB, but a great RB in Daniel Thomas. The defense should be disciplined, but is a little short on the talent side.
Oklahoma State, like K-state, should be a mediocre-to-good team in 2010. I predict they will go .500 or better based on returning starters. Even though they have good talent coming back, they lose Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant, who were the face of the offense.
Finally, we address the home game against the University of Texas. The Longhorns are going to be sporting a new QB for the first time in almost five years. By this time, the veteran Blackshirt defense should be at its best, but the Longhorns have young five-star talent across the board.
I see a low-scoring game at home for the Cornhuskers. The defense will be fine. The real question will be how far the offense has come since the beginning of the year.
If Nebraska controls the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, it will be a victory for the home team. If they only win one, it will come down to turnovers and how the new Longhorn QB handles the hostile environment.
I think the Huskers sweep these teams or lose one to either Oklahoma State or Texas. The Huskers would be riding high at this point if they are 7-0 and would be ranked, undoubtedly, in the top five in the nation.
Record: 6-1 or 7-0
Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, Texas A&M, Colorado: This would be the home stretch for a one-loss or undefeated Husker team.
I feel that the game at home against Missouri could be one that is overlooked. The Tigers still have good talent on the offense, even though they lost their best player on both sides of the ball.
Don't be fooled—the Tigers will be ticked off after the mud bowl from last year.
Iowa State, I believe, is a pretty easy prediction. The Huskers are not dropping nine golden eggs for them again.
Kansas will be starting new WRs and a new QB to go along with a defense that gave up more points in four games than the Husker defense gave up all of last year.
Texas A&M at College Station will be a battle in which the Aggies, I believe, will come in with a solid team and a record probably somewhere around 7-3, maybe 8-2.
If the Cornhuskers get by the Aggies, the Buffs from Colorado will be a victory. Colorado will have the most-experienced QB in the Big 12 in Cody Hawkins. So don't completely sleep on the Buffs, as they would love nothing better than to derail a top-five Husker team.
Big 12 Championship
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
What a classic game this will be.
The Sooners should be highly motivated after last year's flop. Bob Stoops, like Pelini, is a hard-nosed, grind-it-out type of guy. He will settle for nothing short of perfection for this team. I could see it going either way here.
FINAL RECORD: 12-2
I see the Huskers back among the names of the elite in college football—well, at least for 2010. I'm a realist and am not predicting a national championship berth, but don't think for one second that if Bo Pelini's team is undefeated they won't take every game seriously. This team will be very disciplined, will fly to the ball on defense, and are returning 10 of 11 starters on an offense that should be much improved.
What are your thoughts and early predictions?
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