LINCOLN, NEB. (AP) - It’s been almost a decade since Nebraska went into a football season getting this much love.
The Big Ten-bound Cornhuskers are generally expected to end their final Big 12 season in the conference championship game, the coaches put them in the top 10 in their preseason poll and some pundits suggest they have an outside shot at the national title.
“We like that,” linebacker Will Compton said of the buildup.
Offensive lineman Keith Williams said it’s a sign the Cornhuskers are relevant again.
“You get that respect that Nebraska needs,” he said.
The Huskers haven’t been much of a factor in the national championship chatter since that quirky 2001 season in which they reached the national title Rose Bowl game against Miami _ and lost _ after a 26-point loss to Colorado. Frank Solich lasted two more seasons before the program really took a dive during the four-year Bill Callahan era.
Bo Pelini, with his two-year record of 19-8 and two bowl wins, has become one of the nation’s hot coaches. But he pooh-poohs the 2010 Husker hype _ even though he’s the guy who started it.
“I don’t concern myself with polls or anything else,” he said. “We’re going to get what we earn this fall, and if we take care of our business on the field we’ll be fine.”
Pelini, remember, stepped out of his brusque character after the 33-0 Holiday Bowl win over Arizona and declared: “Nebraska’s back and we’re here to stay.” Later, he said Nebraska is at a point where it can beat anybody in the nation and that the Huskers’ defense could be better this year even though Associated Press national player of the year and Heisman Trophy finalist Ndamukong Suh is gone.
A year ago, the Huskers led the nation in fewest points allowed and got to the Big 12 title game, where they nearly knocked off Texas. They finished the year 10-4.
“Suh, of course, is arguably one of the best defensive linemen to ever play in college,” Compton said. “We have big shoes to fill, but the way our defense handles things and the trust we have in our coaches, we believe we’ll still get the job done.”
Jared Crick, Suh’s partner in the middle of the line last year and the Big 12’s preseason co-defensive player of the year, will work mostly with Baker Steinkuhler this season.
Prince Amukamara, pegged as one of the top pro prospects at cornerback, leads a solid secondary that has another veteran corner in Alfonzo Dennard and a playmaking nickel back in Eric Hagg.
But can the Huskers match the dominance they showed with Suh, their top tackler the past two seasons and the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions?View Entire Story
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