The Nebraska Cornhuskers are one of the Big Ten‘s best teams and coming off a 10-win season, they have a big target on their back. Bo Pelini has this team as one of the best in the country and starting quarterback Taylor Martinez is a big reason why. This could be his best squad since joining the conference two years ago.
On the other side of the field, the Wyoming Cowboys finished the 2012 season with a 4-8 record, but went 3-1 in their final four games. Dave Christensen is entering his fifth season as the head coach and his 22-28 overall record isn’t too impressive for a guy who inherited a 4-8 squad in 2008. He will need to turn Wyoming into a winner if he wants to remain the head coach.
Pelini’s offense was pretty impressive last season. Martinez comes into the 2013 season as an early Heisman candidate and running back Ameer Abdullah did a more-than-stellar job filling in for the injured Rex Burkhead last season. This offense ranked 26th nationally in total offense and 28th in total points — both were one of the top marks in the Big Ten.
Wyoming has had a notoriously poor offense for the better part of a decade. Christensen has yet to coach a team that finished with more than 400 yards per game in his four seasons with the Cowboys. Starting quarterback Brett Smith is a solid returning piece — he passed for over 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. They will need to improve on the offensive side of the ball if they want to have a chance this season.
Defense is the name of the game in this matchup. Wyoming has a poor offense overall and the Cornhuskers have the fourth best pass defense in the nation. However, they are returning just four starters on that side of the ball, including Ciante Evans who is the lead returning tackler with 56 from a season ago. Wyoming is returning seven starters, but losing its top three tacklers from 2012.
Wyoming will be traveling to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
PREDICTION: Wyoming 3, Nebraska 48
Related: Nebraska Preview