Which Nebraska Team Will Show Up In 2014?
The Nebraska Cornhuskers finished last season with a solid win over the Georgia Bulldogs, and now they look to take the momentum and parlay it into the 2014 season.
The Cornhuskers finished the regular season 8-4 with three losses in conference, and all four losses were by double digits. They were a Jekyll and Hyde team. They struggled to get on a roll throughout the season, but were able to beat the inferior competition while squeaking by other mid-level conference schools.
The team also had off-the-field distractions to deal with such as head coach Bo Pelini's 2011 rant against the fans surfacing (warning: explicit language).
Which team will Pelini bring into the upcoming season?
The opener set the tone of the 2013 season. Nebraska had to escape with a three-point win over Wyoming. In 2014, they will open against Florida Atlantic. Nebraska should win that game convincingly, but that is what the common thought was last season.
Pelini and the Cornhuskers will enter 2014 with Big Ten championship hopes. They are in the new Big Ten West, which is the easier of the two divisions, and their 2014 is substantially less threatening than their 2013 slate.
The out-of-conference schedule reads as such: Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, at Fresno State and Miami (FL). In conference, they replace Michigan and Penn State with Rutgers and Wisconsin.
They will still face stiff challenges in 2014, but there is no excuse for another 8-4 season. The Cornhuskers should be eying double-digit wins.
If the Huskers are going to make a move for the Big Ten title, they need Randy Gregory to lead the defense to a much better 2014. They gave up more than 25 points per game last season, holding only one team (Purdue) to single-digit points.
While the Blackshirts do have to step up in 2014, so does quarterback production.
In 2013, as a team, the Cornhuskers completed 57.7 percent of its passes and threw 25 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. Tommy Armstrong Jr. looks to be the man under center in 2014. He will have to improve on his completion percentage (51.9 percent) to help Nebraska challenge the Big Ten elite.
There's a lot of room for improvement, but Nebraska has the talent in the locker room to do it. The schedule is in its favor to have an excellent season.
We'll get our first look at whether Nebraska can contend for a Big Ten title before the calendar turns to September as the Cornhuskers open the season Aug. 30.