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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 22 Nebraska

Iowa v Nebraska Getty Images

2011 record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in Big Ten (3rd in Legends)

2011 postseason: Capital One Bowl (30-13 loss to South Carolina)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 24/No. 24

Head coach: Bo Pelini (39-16 in five-plus seasons at Nebraska)

Offensive coordinator: Tim Beck (third season at Nebraska, second as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 15th rushing offense (217.2 ypg); 104th passing offense (162.7 ypg); 66th total offense (379.9 ypg); 50th scoring offense (29.1 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: seven

Defensive coordinator: John Papuchis (fifth season at Nebraska, second as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 64th rushing defense (158.5 ypg); 18th passing defense (192.2 ypg); 37th total defense (350.7 ypg); 42nd scoring defense (23.4 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: seven

Location: Lincoln, Neb.

Stadium: Memorial Stadium (81,067; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 1999 (Big 12)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
The Cornhuskers return a total of 16 starters — two on special teams — which ties it with 11 other teams for 29th most in the country. The schedule sets up relatively favorably, with the ‘Huskers getting both Wisconsin (Sept. 29) and Michigan (Oct. 27) in Lincoln, although they do have to travel to Ohio State (Oct. 6 night game) and Michigan State (Nov. 3). After a solid debut season in the Big Ten, Pelini’s charges will be looking to make their mark on the conference race sooner rather than later.

The Bad
While the Cornhuskers return seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, they lost three of the best Blackshirts to the NFL. And that was on a defense that was fair-to-middlin’ in the first place; the Huskers nearly gave up as many points per game in 2011 (23.4) as it did in 2009 and 2010 combined (27.8). For a program used to defensive prowess — and for one looking to get itself back to national prominence — that’s unacceptable, although the odds that was merely an aberration are fairly good.

The Unknown
Taylor Martinez.  Entering his third season as Nebraska’s starting quarterback, one would think that there would be a fairly good handle on what Martinez will bring to the table.  One would obviously be wrong, although, based on the reports coming out of Lincoln this offseason, the light bulb may have gone on for Martinez.  All Husker Nation has to worry about is whether it dims before the start of the regular season.

Make-or-break game: vs. Wisconsin, Sept. 29
Last season in Madison, the Badgers laid a 48-17 woodshedding on the ‘Huskers in the program’s first Big Ten game. Nebraska will get Wisconsin first out of the conference gate again this season, although, as mentioned, this time the Badgers will be on the road. As was the case last year, the league opener will serve as a barometer for where the ‘Huskers are headed in 2012 — or how far they (still) have to go to catch the heavyweights in the Big Ten.

Heisman hopeful: running back Rex Burkhead
As one of the most unheralded backs in the country, Burkhead rushed for a team-leading 1,357 yards (16th in the country) and 15 touchdowns as a junior.  With uncertainty, at least early on in the season, over how big of an offensive load Martinez will be capable of handling, Burkhead will once again be looked upon to shoulder much of the heavy lifting on that side of the ball.  A long shot for a trip to New York City in December, let alone a Heisman win, Burkhead could sneak into the conversation with a solid start to the season, including a breakout performance in the nationally-televised primetime affair vs. Wisconsin.

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7 Responses to “CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 22 Nebraska”
  1. ukeone says: Aug 9, 2012 5:21 PM

    Pre-season polls are a complete ‘waste of time and totally useless.’ Most of the time, what starts in the pre-season doesn’t ever finish that way in the end. What ultimately transcribes out of pre-season rankings is how ‘very little’ the pre-season pollsters really know about the current year’s teams in the first place, and usually end-up embarrassing themselves with ‘foolish and senseless’ explanations as to why things ultimately went the way they did. Besides, why is it necessary to base pre-season rankings on last year’s results? It doesn’t make any sense! What’s done is done, and the ‘new season’ will have its own merits to consider. At least have the ‘common sense’ to wait until October (after each team has played a few key games) before rending your ‘so-called professional opinions & polling results.’ Then, you may actually become somewhat credible and just might avoid getting embarrassed all over again!

  2. ukeone says: Aug 9, 2012 5:23 PM

    correection…”rendering”

  3. ukeone says: Aug 9, 2012 5:23 PM

    LOL!

  4. mslezak23 says: Aug 10, 2012 3:54 PM

    If preseason rankings are a waste of time, why are you reading them, let alone commenting on them? I think the ‘Skers finish outside the top 25.

  5. mslezak23 says: Aug 10, 2012 3:57 PM

    Also, several publications have been dead-on the past decade. I think Phil Steele has correctly picked something like 70 % of the final top 25 the last 5 years, so I totally disagree that preseason rankings mean nothing.

  6. ukeone says: Aug 11, 2012 1:14 AM

    Which team do you belong to, you wus: the ‘Fckers?’ …Loser!!!

  7. ukeone says: Aug 11, 2012 1:15 AM

    …Probably somewhere inside your ass!

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