By Ryan Donohue
2011 brings a new conference and new-look Huskers, but will this season provide a bull market-style return that most Big Red backers appear to be expecting or will Nebraska again be on the downturn and running with the bears as the season ends?
Worst Case Scenario:
Watching the Huskers ascend the preseason polls is getting difficult to watch. Since 1999, Nebraska hasn’t really won anything of note. Adapting to a brand new conference will make things difficult even with incredible talent. Ask the 1996 Husker squad. There are too many things that can – and will – go wrong.
Adversity will test the Huskers just as much this year as it did last. Everyone is gunning for the new kid. Even teams like Northwestern and Minnesota will give Nebraska everything they’ve got.
The brutality of the schedule lamented in January hasn’t changed. It looks even tougher. How can one expect back-to-back trips to the Big House and Happy Valley to be a cakewalk? They could easily be back-to-back losses. Ohio State could benefit from the same overhyping that Texas exploited last year. Iowa could be the perfect candidate to sour Senior Day.
The season is only as reliable as Taylor Martinez’s health. It’s hard to imagine him not getting hurt again at some point in such a physical conference. Tim Beck can’t scheme Brion Carnes into a quarterback with any meaningful experience, merely hope for the best. The offensive load weighs heavily on Rex Burkhead who could have durability issues himself if he takes enough snaps.
Even if the receivers prove themselves there has to be someone to throw them the ball efficiently. Offensive depth is still an issue. The line is young and injuries are inevitable. Perhaps the most severe difference between this year and last is the absence of Alex Henery. No longer can the nation’s most accurate kicker bail out the Big Red.
The Huskers will have a respectable transition into the Big 10, but lose to teams they shouldn’t. The offense won’t crumble, but it will still spit and sputter. The defense might have its own injury issues and even when remarkably healthy, it can’t put enough points on the board to compensate for a sketchy offense and brutal schedule.
Projected "Bear Market" regular season record: 8-4