The Nebraska Cornhuskers had a successful 2012 campaign, going 10-4 and playing in the Big Ten Championship. They won the Legends Division with a conference record of 7-1. Although Nebraska got blown out by 39 points against Wisconsin, a return trip to the championship game could be in the cards for this year.
The Cornhuskers return several starters, especially on offense. The unit that was the best in the Big Ten Conference in total offense returns leading rusher Ameer Abdullah, leading receiver Kenny Bell and top passer Taylor Martinez. Those three players themselves make Nebraska a very dangerous team.
Abdullah played a big part in giving the Cornhuskers the best rushing team in the conference. He carried the ball 226 times for 1,137 yards and eight touchdowns. The junior will once again be heavily relied on and will be a key to the team’s success on offense. Retuning with Abdullah is Bell, who is the biggest threat in the passing game. He caught 50 passes for 863 yards with eight touchdowns last season, all team-highs.
Of course, the star of the offense is at the quarterback position. Martinez, who is a threat to both run and pass, is one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. In his three years at Nebraska, he has thrown for 6,591 yards and 46 touchdowns. He’s also added 2,858 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground.
There’s no doubt that much of Nebraska’s success is going to fall on the shoulders of Martinez.
On defense, there are just four starters returning from last year. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Nebraska struggled a bit on defense and ranked just seventh in the conference. Even with a defense that’s not the best, the Cornhuskers will be in every game thanks to their ability to put up points on offense.
While it’s nice to have a talented team, having a favorable schedule also helps. That’s the case for the Cornhuskers this season. They get to host the majority of their tough opponents. UCLA, Northwestern and Michigan State all make visits to Lincoln. Ohio State and Wisconsin are not on the schedule and have been replaced by seemingly easier games against Purdue and Illinois.
With key players returning and a schedule that sets up nicely, don’t be surprised to see the Cornhuskers make a return trip to the Big Ten Championship this season.