It’s time for college football fans to prepare for the long, arduous trek through summer and look toward the future. That’s certainly what Nebraska fans are doing following last season’s 6-7 record. But what will Big Red backers see once they reach their seats on Sept. 3 in Memorial Stadium and beyond?
The Huskers’ schedule sets up to show that not only was last year’s stumble a fluke, but also that Mike Riley’s offense and Mark Banker’s defense can actually work in Lincoln. It also gives the Big Red plenty of opportunities to test new defensive line coach John Parrella’s skills as he works to retool a pass rush and the interior line.
Which teams pose the biggest threats to a successful 2016 campaign? Here are Nebraska's 12 regular season games, ranked according to degrees of difficulty from easiest to most potentially painful.
12. Sept. 3 vs. Fresno State
The Cornhuskers’ kickoff game looks to be the easiest contest on the slate. The Bulldogs are breaking in new coordinators on both sides of the ball following last year’s 3-9 campaign.
Quarterback Chason Virgil has taken his place as No. 1 on the quarterback depth chart for the Bulldogs ahead of redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson and West Virginia transfer Ford Childress.This appears to be the perfect test for Nebraska’s high-octane offense and question mark-laden defense.
11. Sept. 10 vs. Wyoming
The Cowboys’ 2-10 record from last season may seem like reason enough to give them the cellar spot. However, the Blackshirt run defense – perhaps the most vulnerable spot on the team – will be tested by running back Brian Hill. Hill averaged 135.9 yards rushing per game last season and if Craig Bohl’s team has any hope of victory, it’ll be thanks to No. 8.
10. Oct. 22 vs. Purdue
No, Nebraska shouldn’t have lost to Purdue last year and the Boilermakers certainly shouldn’t make it two in a row over the Big Red. Junior quarterback Austin Appleby transferred to Florida leaving Purdue with sophomore David Blough to likely take over.
Former Nebraska linebackers coach Ross Els is the new defensive coordinator, but that doesn’t exactly concern Husker fans. Several were befuddled how he got the gig in the first place, especially with head coach Darrell Hazell squarely on the hot seat.