The Nebraska Cornhuskers will be looking to win their first ever Big Ten title in 2014 and will need to rely on their defense to get it done. While the team boasts a strong running game with Ameer Abdullah, there is serious questions about the quarterback position that could hinder Nebraska’s run at a conference title. That will put the pressure on the defense to step up and win some games this season, led by senior safety Corey Cooper.
Cooper was the team’s leading tackler in 2013, recording 91 tackles with four tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. He has shown that he can be a leader for Nebraska already but will have to become more vocal and put this team on his back. A great Nebraska defense is predicated on elite safety play and Cooper has to be the man to deliver that as one of the team’s most experienced playmakers.
While the team ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten in total defense, they were well off the mark of an elite defense that they will need to be in order to claim a Big Ten title. The Huskers gave up an average of 370.7 yards per game in 2013, nearly 120 yards more than the No. 1 defense of the defending conference champion Michigan State Spartans. Additionally, they gave up over 60 yards more per game than Big Ten West rivals the Iowa Hawkeyes and Wisconsin Badgers.
In order to compete, Nebraska has to close the gap on the conference’s elite defenses and they need Corey Cooper to lead the way. If the Huskers can regain their Blackshirt form and bring a physical defense week in and week out, there’s no reason that they won’t make a run to the Big Ten title in 2014.