• OverThePylon

    OTP covers Ball State University sports from the blog perspective in the most overzealous manner possible, proving that as long as there is someone with enough free time you can obsess over anything.
  • Connect to OTP

  • OTP Messageboard

  • OTPcast on Itunes

  • OTPcast on Stitcher

  • Help the Pylon

  • Donate to OTP

    A donation to OTP helps keep the site afloat and Cards fans connected. 50% of all donations sent to Cardinal Varsity Club as well. Help the Cards and your favorite blog in one fell swoop!

  • Join Our Network

Prelude to a Season: #15

15.) Nebraska Cornhuskers

NebraskaWhat You Need to Know
Bo Pelini found himself in a curious position to open 2008. Coming off the heels of Bill Callahan’s highly unsuccessful experiment in Lincoln, Pelini found himself in possession of a program that had unbelievable tradition, but a lack of recent success. Pelini, the former defensive coordinator at LSU, certainly changed that in his first season, ringing up a 10-4 record and a Gator Bowl win over Clemson.

Fortunately for the Huskers, they find themselves in the Big 12’s North Division, meaning they are not competing year in and year out with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech for the ability to represent their division in the conference title game. This year, Nebraska finds themselves not only in a favorable division, but with returning skill players, a marquee non-conference game, and with plenty of skill players returning to the roster.

Offensively, the Huskers return 6 starters, but did lose an extremely important one in QB Joe Ganz, second all-time in passing yardage at Nebraska. Behind his arm and leadership, Nebraska rang up the conference’s 6th best scoring offense, 6th best passing offense, and 4th best rushing offense. Junior RB Ray Helu will start the fall #1 on the depth chart, but expect a multi-faceted approach with junior Quentin Castille, since each had over 500 yards on the ground last season. The downside of Nebraska’s 08 attack was leading the conference in turnovers, including 17 fumbles lost, a stat which must improve for the Huskers to have any chance to compete for the conference crown.

Defensively, the Huskers return 7 starters, including their 4 highest tacklers from last season. Ndamukong Suh, a senior and an All Big 12 selection last season, leads the charge for the Nebraska defense. At 6’4″, 300 lbs, and exceptionally skilled, Suh may very well find himself on All American ballots at the conclusion of 09. The Huskers lose two of three linebackers from 08, but have a deep and talented roster as well as senior Phillip Dillard. In the secondary, they lose CB Armando Murrillo, but return a group that is exceptionally experienced, talented, and deep. As a unit, the Huskers were 2nd in the Big 12 last season for total defense, giving up only 349 yards per game, along with their 28.5 points per game (6th in conference). Those numbers look to improve as a talented and deep roster goes into their 2nd full season in Pelini’s scheme.

Nebraska’s out of conference schedule features three easy Ws, along with an exceptionally challenging contest in Blacksburg, VA against Virginia Tech. In conference, the Big 12 South opponents on the schedule are Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and @ Baylor, which means they can avoid a contest against the Texas Longhorns, as well as getting the Sooners at home. With a schedule like that, Pelini and the Huskers are in prime position to continue revitalizing the Cornhusker”s history and legacy as they are the front-runners for their division.

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
RB Roy Helu: 125 att, 803 yds, 7 TDs
SS Larry Asante: 67 tkls, 1 sack, 4 PBU, 1 INT
DT Ndamukong Suh: 76 tkls, 7.5 sacks, 11.5 TFL, 2 INTs

Game to Watch
In terms of upset potential, November 7th’s contest against Oklahoma looms large, along with the September 19th contest at Virginia Tech, though both those games are longshots for the Huskers. In terms of conference success and getting a berth for the conference title, the Huskers must defeat divisional foes like Missouri (10/8) and Kansas (11/14), both on the road.

They’ll Do Well If…
… Zac Lee performs up to his talent level. Making Husker fans forget about Joe Ganz will be difficult if not impossible, but this junior is a talented player, with good returning skill players around him, along with talent beneath him on the depth chart pushing him to succeed. Limiting turnovers needs to also be high on his To-Do list.

Season Outlook
Nebraska finds themselves in one of the best positions they could, without Texas from the Big 12 South on the schedule and getting Oklahoma at home makes them the divisional favorite, while three of four pushover non-conference games make the Huskers clear-cut front runners for a great record. Games against the Sooners and at Virginia Tech will be challenging. Look for the Huskers to wrap up their 09 campaign with a 9-3 record and a 6-2 record in the Big 12 with a berth in the Big 12 title game, where they will be 60 minutes of football away from a BCS berth in only Bo Pelini’s second season.

One Response

  1. Nice post. I miss the days of NU being a yearly contender.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: