It’s the second week of college classes in Lincoln, Nebraska and that can only mean one thing: Nebraska Football is about to make you feel really, really good inside.
With fall camp in full swing, the first game looming, and the world nearly spinning off its’ axis because Bo Pelini has restricted media access to the football team, it is time to take a step back and take a realistic look at the 2010 football season.
Besides the fact that a restriction in fall camp media access has caused a state-wide firestorm (its only practice guys), Nebraska fans have more reasons to be excited about the upcoming season than they have in nearly a decade.
For starters, Nebraska is ranked in the top ten in pre-season polls for the first time in eight years. Whether you believe in the validity of these polls or not (I do not), a top ten ranking means Nebraska is once again garnering national respect and would have a much shorter climb to the top than any in recent memory. However, it could just as easily mean a very hard and disappointing fall to the bottom.
If there is one thing Husker fans can be sure of, it is that Bo Pelini will put a defense on the field September 4th that the state of Nebraska can be proud of. His 2010 squad will be returning seven starters from a defense that ranked seventh nationally in total defense in 2009.
Throw in two starting corner-backs from a secondary that lead the nation in pass efficiency, and Jared Crick, who some organizations are labeling the best overall player in college football, and there is no reason that Nebraska fans shouldn't have high hopes for this defense. However, fans may be setting themselves up for disappointment if they think you can lose arguably the best defensive player in college football in the past decade, and get better.
The biggest question mark for the Cornhuskers is once again offense. The sad truth is that no matter how great your defense is, if the offense puts up numbers that rank 99th in total offense like they did in 2009, the chances of Nebraska making a BCS bowl or National Championship game are about the same as Rex Ryan making it through an episode of Hard Knocks without dropping an F-Bomb; it just isn’t going to happen.
The best thing about the 2010 Nebraska offense is that it is not the 2009 Nebraska offense. It is a new year and the team has a clean slate. The offensive line is deep; Nebraska has two backs capable of rushing for over 1,000 yards in Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead, and an experienced receiving core lead by Niles Paul. If Nebraska can put a playmaking quarterback on the field, this offense is capable of putting up numbers that make Tim Tebow blush. If they cannot, Bo Pelini might want to think about extending his media blackout by about four months.
Whether you are the Husker fan that spends your nights reading message boards and calling inside sources, or the fan that doesn’t know who Nebraska plays until you stumble up to your first tail-gate, the beginning of every season is like buying a lottery ticket; as long as you have realistic expectations, you have every right to dream big.