Sports

Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State Might All be Better than Nebraska in 2012

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The current 2012 college football win totals for the Huskers is 8.5 wins (-105 under) and (-135 over) at 5Dimes. NU is coming off a 9-4 season with 9 regular season wins in their first year as a Big 10 member. The question is where do they go from there?

The schedule gets harder in 2012

In many ways the Cornhuskers were a fortunate team in 2011 when it came to their schedule. Even though they drew Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin from the Leaders Division, NU caught the best possible breaks that could happen for a first year team.

They caught Ohio State after the firing of Tressel, and having to deal with the chaos from the player suspensions and an interim head coach. And then having to travel to Lincoln with a freshman QB starting his first conference road game.

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NU then caught Penn State just as the Sandusky scandal was becoming a full fledged nightmare for the school, and Paterno was out and not allowed to coach in that last home game against Nebraska. So again, Pelini got to go up against an assistant coach and a football program in disarray and shock over the incidents.

Then NU also had the good fortune to play Michigan State at home after MSU had just come off an emotionally draining 3 week run against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan. It was very obvious to me that MSU had nothing left in their tank that day in Lincoln.

This year I don’t see NU catching those kinds of breaks with their schedule. Their Big 10 schedule is brutal. They have to play Wisky, OSU and PSU from the Leaders Division. And they won’t catch the kind of scheduling breaks they caught with MSU last year in their own division. The Huskers will have to earn every win they get this season against teams that won’t be going through the kind of turmoil they had last year..

The non-conference games will be tougher

Although Southenrn Miss loses their excellent head coach Larry Fedora, they still can’t be overlooked after coming off a 12-2 season,C-USA championship, bowl win and some good memories. NU is an early 2 TD favorite,  but they’ll have to be on their toes against one of the most talented teams in the CUSA, and a dual threat QB.

The Huskers then travel to UCLA the following week. I have a feeling  this won’t be your same old loser Bruins team we saw under Neuheisel. With Jim Mora coming in, I believe they’ll have the best coach that they’ve had for the last couple decades.  A ton of blue chip talent, a veteran QB and 16 starters back for Mora to work with.

Plus let’s remember that even though they backed in because of USC’s probation, the Bruins still played in the Pac’s first Championship Game last year. And a sure to be improved Bruins team is picked to finish second in their division this year behind USC. So I have a pretty strong feeling that NU will be in for a dogfight when they travel to LA.

The Pelini Factor

In considering  win totals we still have to consider the Pelini factor.  Has Bo Pelini learned anything in his 4 years as HC?  He seems to be one of those coaches that are still learning on the fly.

He’s had to deal with anger issues on the field, which has a tendency to trickle down to his team when they face adversity. As in the Wisconsin and Michigan games last season.

As I’ve said before on here, unless I see a very special type of coach, I’m very leery of coaches who get their first job on the division 1 BCS level power teams.

Because of the pressure, coaches like that usually don’t succeeed, or never reach a high enough winning level to satisfy their fans.. So the book is still out on Pelini. Is he special? So far I’m not getting any warm fuzzies over him.

Nebraska’s 2012 College Football Win Totals

There are several problems I have with Nebraska this year. The development of their O-Line. The further development of Taylor Martinez into more of a passing QB. I need to see a big improvement in that throwing motion before I become a believer.

How much their defense will be improved. This is one area where I think they could improve. But keep in mind that they also lose DC Carl Pelini, and Bo will take over play calling duties.  I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. It can be a big job to put on your shoulders when your also having trouble just being an adequate head coach.

The team does have a chance to improve on offense in the second year of OC Tim Beck’s system. But Beck is not somebody new to the team since he’s already been there 4 years and was just promoted to the job. This is the main problem that I’m having with Nebraska. I’m not seeing anything talent-wise or coaching-wise that’s offering me anything new to where I think they can make that big leap from last season to become a college football dynasty again.

Honestly, when I look at the other teams rosters from the Legends Division, I think the Huskers best chances to win that divison will be next year after Michigan’s dynamic QB Deanrd Robisnon is gone and the Huskers get MSU and Iowa back in Lincoln. And they don’t draw Wisky, PSU and OSU from the Leaders Division. Success can be all about scheduling. And with Nebraska this can be especially true.

I’m leaning Under 8.5 wins. There are four very possible losses on the schedule, at Ohio State and at MSU, both revenge games for those teams. And I don’t believe NU can beat both Wisky and Michigan at home. Iowa and UCLA, both on the road are close to tossups. Here is the team by team win percentages I give the Huskers this year.

Southern Miss 70%
@UCLA 55%
Arkansas State 90%
Idaho State 100%
Wisconsin 50%
@Ohio State 35%
@Northwestern 65%
Michigan 45%
@MSU 40%
Penn State 60%
Minnesota 80%
@Iowa 55%

But if I know Pelini and Nebraska, they’ll drop a game they’re suppose to win. It seems to happen every season for this program.

It was Northwestern in Lincoln last season. A team that finished 6-7. So nothing is a given for this Huskers team. If you go by the past, Nebraska has been a steady 9 win team every year. But I think the Big 10 is going to shake that streak up a bit this year.

OSU, Michigan, and possibly MSU could and probably will all be better. And they didn’t even come close to beating Michigan and Wisky in 2011. But like I said, watch the Huskers in 2013. Just when everybody is down on them, they could very well come in and win their divison. Which is the next step for this program if Pelini wants to see future paychecks.

Let me know how many games you think Nebraska will win in the comments section. Thank you – GS.

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.