What to Expect From Nebraska Cornhuskers in Big Ten Season Opener

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten play is ready to begin for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but are they ready for Big Ten play?

That question is about to be answered as the Illinois Fighting Illini travel to Lincoln on Saturday.  The Huskers entered the season with lots of questions to answer about their defense, and now they are looking down the barrel of a daunting Big Ten schedule with a lot of questions to answer about the offense, defense and coaching Staff.

As far as the coaching staff is concerned, any sports fan in the country is well aware of the statements made by Bo Pelini following an Ohio State game years ago. The University of Nebraska did an excellent job of handling the situation and putting any question about who was in charge of the team in Lincoln to rest quickly.

Also, Pelini was apologetic and seems to be happy with the situation he is presently in as Nebraska’s head coach. Furthermore, fans showed their class by continuing to cheer on their beloved Huskers and the coach who scorned them and questioned their fortitude.

Still, one cannot help but wonder how short of a leash this Nebraska coaching staff is on. If someone is not on the hot seat in Lincoln, the seat is at least warm, and there are a number of people standing around it. With former Husker Scott Frost doing so well in his role as OC at Oregon, there will always be rumors about the head coaching job at Nebraska.

So what can we expect t from the coaches on Saturday?  Expect them to lead with passion as they always do. That seems to be the thing this staff does best, and they will need their intensity and passion to get them through what will be an up-and-down game against an Illinois team that has seen much success this season.

The offense on Saturday will look different than it has in years, but similar to the offense fans saw against South Dakota State. The Huskers will be without Taylor Martinez once again, and Tommy Armstrong will again get the start. Expect to see more of Armstrong and less of senior Ron Kellogg.

Quarterbacking aside, what Nebraska must do against the Illini is run the ball. Nebraska has proven they have three capable running backs, but it is time for Ameer Ahbdulah to have a breakout game and show fans around the Big Ten what they can expect from him this season.

Imani Cross has been a pleasant surprise as he has transitioned from a pure short-yardage power back into more of a complete back. Now fans want to see that big-play potential that Ahbdulah possess.

The Nebraska defense will have the most difficult task on Saturday. They will be responsible for containing Illlini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Scheelhaase is having a spectacular year for the Illini. The young Blackshirt defense has yet to prove that they can put adequate pressure on a quarterback and in the rare instances that they do, they have failed to contain the passer as he transitions into a runner.

The Huskers must solve this problem if they expect to begin their Big Ten season at 1-0. The Huskers secondary has played well, and they may be the difference-maker in this game. The Huskers have the potential to take the ball away from Scheelhaase twice, which should be enough to keep them in this game at home.

Get your Huskers Tickets here as they make their push towards a Big 10 Championship.

Around the Web