2011 Predictions: Nebraska Cornhuskers

What will Nebraska's first Big Ten conference record be in 2011?

What will Nebraska's first Big Ten conference record be in 2011?

For the 45th year in a row, Athlon Sports will release its in-depth preseason preview annual complete with coaching changes, behind the scenes features, scouting reports from within the locker room, pages of recruiting rankings, and most importantly, in-depth predictions and previews.

Each year, we order some pizza and lock ourselves in a room until all 120 teams have been hammered into place. And every year, there are some seriously heated discussions that result in not-so-cordial commentary.

The 2011 preseason top-25 countdown will begin with No. 25 on Monday May 2. But every day until then, we will offer the college football fan a peek behind the curtain at some of the most heated debates that we the editors at Athlon had to work through.

Check out all the debates linked below.

The Debate: What will Nebraska's first Big Ten conference record be in 2011?

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
I believe the Huskers can go 7–1 in their maiden voyage through the Big Ten. I think they might lose their opener at Wisconsin and then run the table after that. They get Ohio State and Michigan State at home, which will help.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Nebraska didn't get any favors from the Big Ten with its schedule, but I don't think 7–1 is out of the question. Road trips to Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin will be difficult, but none of those teams are better than the Cornhuskers. Catching Ohio State in game six is huge for Nebraska, as that will be the first game back for the five suspended players and Jim Tressel. Although the return of the players and Tressel should make a difference for Ohio State, how effective will they be in their first game back? I think the Huskers beat Ohio State during the regular season and lose one conference game along the way to the Big Ten title game.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
The Big Ten schedule makers definitely wanted to make it difficult on Nebraska during their freshman season in the conference. The Cornhuskers draw Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin with their non-division slate, while not playing lesser squads Indiana, Illinois and Purdue. Even with the more challenging foes, I think Bo Pelini's squad will go 6–2 in league play. Nebraska will have an excellent defense, led by All-America candidates Jared Crick and Lavonte David. The Huskers should run the ball well like usual, and their success both nationally and competing to win the Legends Division will depend on the maturation of quarterback Taylor Martinez. If he can pass well enough to keep defenses honest, Nebraska will be the favorite to edge out Michigan State in the division and play in the first ever Big Ten title tilt.

Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Nebraska could easily play for a National Championship in 2011 — and could just as easily have four losses. And it all hinges on Taylor Martinez. The defense has two All-Americans leading the way, and the ground game will be right at home in the power football conference. After some highly publicized mental toughness issues, Martinez is anything but a sure thing to start every game. However, he also has the ability to elevate this team to next level. They get the Buckeyes basically in Game 1 with their best players and coach — and they get them at home. They also get Michigan State at home and will not be tested by a trip to Ann Arbor. Flights to Happy Valley and Madison, Wisc., will be the other serious tests. If Martinez does not develop and there are QB issues — despite the very talented back-up options — two or even three league losses are very possible. If the talented dual-threat stays healthy, both physically and mentally, the Huskers could find themselves in the BCS title game for the first time since 2001. A potential second bout with Ohio State in the inaugural Big Ten title game looms large and could have national title implications.

Nathan Rush
The Cornhuskers are a perfect fit in the Big Ten and will run through the conference like Tommy Frazier in his heyday. This time around, it will be Taylor Martinez whose dual-threat ability will lead Nebraska’s offense, while big D-tackle Jared Crick takes charge for Bo Pelini’s Blackshirt defense — which should be rock solid once again this year despite losing award winners like Ndamukong Suh and Prince Amukamara in back-to-back seasons. I’ll go with a 7–1 conference record, with a coin toss loss either at Wisconsin (Oct. 1) in NU’s Big Ten opener or against Ohio State (Oct. 8) in the first Big Ten conference game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Debate: Will the Oregon Ducks repeat as Pac-12 Champions?

Debate: Who will win the SEC East in 2011?

Debate: Who is the top challenger to West Virginia in the Big East?

Debate: What is Ohio State's record after five games in 2011?

Debate: Who is the first-team All-Big 12 quarterback this year?

Debate: Who will finish second in the ACC Atlantic?
Debate: How far will Auburn fall in 2011?

Pre-order your team’s Athlon Sports cover here (athlonsports.com/store) and find out where Athlon has your team picked when the 2011 Top 25 countdown begins on Monday, May 2.

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<p> Athlon's editors debate just how Nebraska will handle the move to the Big Ten?</p>

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