The Nebraska Cornhuskers have had an entire off-season to think about a bowl game in which everything that started right suddenly turned the wrong way. The Huskers were moving the ball, while the South Carolina Gamecocks were being stifled by a Husker defense that was playing some of it’s best ball all season. Then, the hail mary touchdown right before halftime happened, and the rest can be found on YouTube.
Now, the Huskers are in the middle of off-season workouts, where players must organize and train on their own, without the help of the coaching staff. Taylor Martinez, the Huskers oft criticized quarterback, has apparently been spearheading the conditioning and workouts himself. He has received much support from fellow teammates such as Rex Burkhead, Baker Steinkuhler, Sean Fisher, and Will Compton. The Huskers have a decent off-season schedule ahead of them, so let’s take a quick preview at it.
Home/Season Opener versus Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
The Cornhuskers will get a good Southern Miss squad heading into Lincoln. Last year, the Golden Eagles went 12-2 in Conference USA, and will be looking to again repeat that success. They return a few starters on both sides of the ball, a team that was very, very good on both sides. Offensively, they averaged over 460 yards of offense, 256.2 passing, and 205.1 rushing, while averaging 36.9 points per game. Defensively, they gave up just 20.8 points per game. This game will not be as easy as some past home openers.
Game 2 at University California Los Angeles Bruins
The Huskers first prime time game of the season comes at UCLA, where newly hired Jim Mora will be looking to win his first big game at the Bruins helm. It will be no easy task, as the Bruins were terrible on both sides of the ball. Kevin Prince will give the Huskers fits defensively, but expect an invigorated Husker squad to play better than they did last season. Last season, Keith Price (Washington Huskies) had a heck of a game against the defense in Lincoln, but I don’t think Prince will challenge the Huskers Price did.
Game 3 versus Arkansas State Red Wolves
The Red Wolves are one of the best Sun Belt teams in recent memory. Last year they went 10-3, and are looking to build upon that this season. They open the season at the Oregon Ducks, so do not expect them to be nervous about playing the Huskers. The Big Red should be able to win this game, but don’t expect it to be a complete blowout. The Red Wolves will exploit some holes defensively for the Huskers, but Nebraska should be able to contain them in a victory.
Game 4 versus Idaho State Bengals
Nebraska will take on Division I – AA Idaho State in a game they should win no problem. Out of the Big Sky, the Bengals went 2-9 last season, losing their last eight games in a row. Located in Pocatello, Idaho, the Bengals are coming to Lincoln to record a nice paycheck to help boost the athletic department. While technically possible they could pull an Appalachian State and beat the Huskers, don’t expect it to happen.
Nebraska should be able to start the season 4-0. They have a challenge in their opening two games, but I think the Huskers will win both of them. The last time the Huskers visited Los Angeles in the regular season they played a defensive game and never were really in the game (versus USC Trojans), but don’t expect it to happen this time. Bo Pelini is not going to sit back and let the Bruins dictate the game.