In just a few short months the Nebraska Cornhuskers embark on a journey that will take them to Madison, Minneapolis, Happy Valley and Ann Arbor as the newest members of the Big 10 conference. In these new and unfamiliar surroundings the Cornhuskers are likely to encounter angry and dangerous Badgers, Gophers, Nittany Lions, and Wolverines that will most certainly be rabid and salivating for a taste of the Cornhuskers.
Angry Badgers, Wolverines and Nittany Lions are easy to picture, but Gophers? Not so much.
Buckeyes, Wildcats, Hawkeyes and Spartans will storm Lincoln hoping to leave after being the first team to give the Cornhuskers their first home loss as Big 10 members. Make no mistake, if ever there were a team that is about to enter a gauntlet with crosshairs on their chest it is most certainly the 2011 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Over the years it has often seemed that Cornhusker opponents regularly play with a passion, a fire in their belly, an energy and abandon that is reserved for the day they battle the Cornhuskers. Stepping on the field of play with the team that wears that red block letter "N" on the helmet always seems to invigorate the oppostion. Maybe it's the Cornhusker mystique of having the most wins in college football since 1970. Or maybe its the history, the five National Championships, the numerous great players that have worn the scarlet and cream for Nebraska. Whatever it is, it often seems that the Cornhuskers always get the other teams best shot. It hasn't been very often that a Cornhusker opponent has come out completely flat and laid an emotional egg.
Each of the these new opponents of the Big 10 will be motivated like never before to win one for the old guard original members of the Big 10. None of these eight teams want to be the first team to lose to the Cornhuskers and likewise they all want to be the first team to be able to hang a Cornhusker pelt on their wall. Don't underestimate that motivation for one moment.
The first team to beat the Cornhuskers as they start life in the Big 10 will be permanently revered. That win for that program will be a monumental moment for the team that does it.
Coaching staffs will save every gadget play, every play not yet seen on film for the day that the Cornhuskers have to stop it.
With that comes Bo Pelini's toughest challenge to date. As tough as it may be, the change to the Big 10 may have come at just the right time for Pelini and Nebraska. The defense is loaded with talented play-makers at every level and might be better and deeper than ever under Pelini. A few tweaks to the offensive system to better suit the players talents might shape up as the perfect storm to compliment a once again dominant defense. It will be tough and it won't come easy but the Big 10 is there for the taking.