In 2007, the Nebraska Huskers football program made a change in direction. After four years under a former pro coach who had turned the top tier program around Husker faithful were looking for a change and some success. Former national Championship coach Tom Osborne returned as Athletic Director and hired the man who had been passed over four years earlier, Bo Pelini.
The Husker Nation immediately took to the man whose previous one year stint at Nebraska had turned a pathetic defense into a force to be reckoned with. Bo had won a bowl game everyone expected the Huskers to lose while e was interim head coach after AD Steve Pedersen had fired long time Osborne assistant Frank Solich from the head coaching job.
National pundits have written the 2008 Huskers off with losses to Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, and possibly Kansas State penciled in. The season's early performance by Virginia Tech has that loss in doubt. Kansas State is looking like a win for Nebraska.
NU has managed to make two games against weaker teams look more competitive than Husker fans had hoped; this reinforces the pundits’ predictions for the season. In order for Pelini's Huskers to get to ten wins, they will have to be better than what they have shown so far. Many in Husker Nation are willing to write off this possibility.
But then a close win over Central Florida (with Dante Culpepper at the helm) in 1997 made Osborne's last Husker national championship team look weak early in the year. New Mexico State is coming to Lincoln for their season opener after Hurricane Gustav caused their original opener to be cancelled (rescheduled?).
Huskers need to open up a big lead and dominate the Aggies in every facet of the game. One open week follows that game and then the Huskers have a grueling eight week schedule including all of the games pundits have them predicted to lose.
The offense and defense the Huskers have shown to date look unlikely to rise against analysts' favorite Big 12 North team, the Missouri Tigers. That game will be the bellwether for the first half of the Huskers season. A win would shock outsiders and fans alike.
There is no reason to believe that the coaches are planning a loss against upstart Missouri, and every reason to believe that they will prepare for three weeks for the Missouri game while devoting enough attention to Virginia Tech to earn a 3-0 start.
At the end of the regular season, an 8-4 record would look good compared to recent teams. A 10 and 2 regular season would move Bo Pelini into the brink of Husker greats Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. That would be an accomplishment for a first year head coach. Stay tuned to see how the season unfolds...
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