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#22 Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview
Spring practices are in the books and fall camps will be here before you know it, so that means an early jump on the 2006 NCAA football season. Knowing your teams now will save you time in August, and Met Fargo is here to help you find out what you can expect this year. We go from worst to first in this 2006 college football preview.
#22 – Nebraska Cornhuskers 8-4 SU; 6-5 ATS
Fargo’s Take This will be the third year of Bill Callahan’s West Coast offense experiment, and it’s going to be an important one. The Huskers finished a disappointing 96th in total offense last year after finishing 69th the year before. Offenses should be better in the second year of the new system and not regress, so major improvement is necessary or Callahan could be out sooner than expected. It has been said to take three years for a West Coast offense to click so time is up. Nebraska has gone to a bowl game in two of the past three years and both were in the Alamo Bowl, so it’s up to Callahan to get the Huskers back to a big bowl game. They will have a stout defense to work with and if the offense improves as it should, Nebraska could return to its glory days. Playing in the Big XII Championship is an unattainable goal.
Returning starters on offense – 7 Quarterback Zac Taylor came into his own last season, passing for a school-record 2,653 yards and 19 touchdowns. The offense clearly relies on him and he will have no problem executing it. The problem lies up front as Nebraska has just one returning starter on an offensive line that allowed 38 sacks last season. Perhaps even worse, the running game has to replace Corey Ross with a quarterback who has little to no experience. The Huskers finished 107th in the country in rushing offense, and for a West Coast offense to succeed, the run must be established. Sophomores Marlon Lackey and Cody Glenn need to step up immediately. Taylor has five of the top six pass catchers back, but all the catching starts up front.
Returning starters on defense – 7 The Blackshirts improved from 56th in total defense in 2004 to 26th last season and that ranking can be even better. The defense is the third-best in Big XII behind Texas and Oklahoma and arguably has the best front week in the conference. The linebackers are the best unit in the conference with Corey McKeon leading the way. Bo Rudd, Steve Octavian and Stewart Bradley are back from injuries and this unit rivals Penn St. as one of the best in the country. The defensive line is led by ends Adam Carriker and Jay Moore, and has a total of six players named to all-conference watch lists, which is pretty impressive considering some aren’t even starters. The secondary, or safety, is the biggest issue as both starters must be replaced. The black shirts are back.
Schedule Nebraska is fortunate to play in the Big XII North, the weaker of the two divisions. Because of this, the Huskers only have to face three teams from the South, and this season, two of the three that are off the list are Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Those two handed Nebraska two of its four losses last year. Another bonus is that Texas has to come to Memorial Stadium. Four of the first five games are at home this season, but that one road game is a bear on USC. Nebraska should be 6-1 going into that game against the Longhorns, and the game at Iowa St. is the only other obstacle. After Texas, three of their last four games are wins, and the only question is the game at Texas A&M. Nebraska does not have a bye week until its final game of the season against Colorado.
You can bet on … The Huskers’ success and whether they can surpass their eight-game winning streak from a season ago lies on offense. The offensive line is a big question mark, but at least the early part of the schedule is easy without USC, which can give the unit time to come together. The defense will carry the Huskers early. Nebraska is just 3-6 ATS as an underdog since 2002 and will certainly get points in Pasadena. To make matters worse, they are coming off a win against Troy, who have only managed to go 10 of their last 26 games on a streak. Beating USC isn’t as impossible as it once was, but it will take a gallant effort to defeat the Trojans, who have won 27 straight at home.
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