The Nebraska Cornhuskers headed into the 2012 season with high hopes, given their relatively easy opening schedule against teams like Southern Miss, UCLA, Arkansas St, and Idaho St. Aside from the upset by UCLA in Pasadena, the Huskers breezed through their first four games, scoring a combined 194 points in those contests. Their non-conference schedule this year isn’t much more difficult, with their only challenge probably being the rematch against UCLA.
Aug 31 vs. Wyoming
The season opener should serve as the traditional tune-up game for the Huskers, as they welcome the Cowboys to Memorial Stadium on the last day in August. Wyoming is coming off a season where it lost seven of eight games to open the season, with their only win coming against lowly Idaho. It doesn’t seem like it’ll be much different for them this year. Nebraska should drop a ton of points on Wyoming’s defense en route to blowout, opening their season with a win for the 28th straight year.
Sept 7 vs. Southern Miss
Southern Mississippi came up to Lincoln last year and was promptly defeated 49-20, and this time around shouldn’t be any different. Southern Miss is the only school from last season not to win a game, and they surely won’t notch their first win over the Huskers. The only foreseeable problem for the Huskers would be overlooking to this game for their rematch with UCLA the next week.
Sept 14 vs. UCLA
Nebraska’s first test of the season will come in week three against the UCLA Bruins. The Huskers will look to avenge their loss against the Bruins from last year, which saw the Huskers give up more than 600 yards on defense, including a 216-yard performance on 21 carries from Bruins tail back Jonathan Franklin. Although Franklin is gone, Nebraska’s run defense is particularly shaky, and it doesn’t help that they only bring back one starter on the front seven.
Bruins quarterback Brent Hundley will prove to be challenging for the Husker’s defense, but as long as they can avoid giving up big plays, their secondary should be able to keep UCLA’s offense in check. I expect another big game from Taylor Martinez and the Husker offense, especially if they get themselves on a roll following expected blowouts against Wyoming and Southern Miss. Martinez in particular struggled in last season’s game after his initial 92-yard TD run, rushing for only 20 more yards on 12 carries and throwing an interception in the final minutes to all but guarantee a Bruins victory.
Sept 21 vs. South Dakota State
This game is already over. The Huskers should have absolutely no trouble taking care of the FCS team from the Missouri Valley Conference. A win against the Jackrabbits would mean the third 4-0 start to the season in the last four years for the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska should get through this part of their schedule relatively unscathed, setting them up for what should be an easy start to their conference schedule with games against Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota – teams that combined for a grand total of 4 conference wins last season. If all goes according to plan, we could see the Huskers start a season 7-0 for the first time since 2001, the last time the Huskers went to the National Championship game.