This is the first installment of the 2011 Big Ten Football season. This will give you all the essential information on each team. The season kicks off in about a week and I am going to try to get to all 12 teams, a general overview preview, and a Notre Dame preview as well. That’s a lot of blogs in not a lot of time, so if I don’t get to your BigTen team…its because you suck. Sorry in advance Indiana, but college football needs ditch diggers too. I am going to go ahead and get newbies, Nebraska, out of the way first.
Best Bar In Chicago To Watch Nebraska Football:
First things first…where to eat, drink, and watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Chicago: Kirkwood Bar in Wrigleyville on the corner of Sheffield and Oakdale. Very solid food, great beer garden, and a decent beer selection. Kirkwood is the official bar of Nebraska football. Sea of Red packs the place pretty good on Saturdays. Also, judging by Kirkwood’s photo gallery, Nebraska’s fan base has plenty of sexbomb girls rocking red on game day. Plenty to look at on commercials.
The offensive MVP for Huskers in 2011 will be Rex Burkhead. With tension between Polini and QB Taylor Martinez boiling over(wouldn’t surprise me to see Brion Carnes get snaps at QB at some point), Burkhead needs to be the straw that stirs the drink, rudder on the ship, or whatever other cliche you want to use. Nebraska also lacks experience at running back behind Burkhead, so he will get a ton of touches. If Nebraska is going to play in the Big Ten Championship, Burkhead will need to carry the offense.
Defensive Tackle Jared Crick would have been a first round pick in the NFL draft if he decided to declare after last year. Crick has a great chance to be B1G defensive player of the year in 2011, and is a likely first team All American. Nebraska is a top ten team nationally based upon the dominance of the “Black Shirts” defense. That dominance starts up front with Crick. He will be the focus of every offensive line in the Big Ten, and I can’t wait to see how power running Wisconsin handles him in Nebraska’s first Big Ten game.
New Offensive Name-to-know:
True freshman running back, Aaron Green, has a real chance to contribute offensively as Burkhead’s back-up. Green is a little under-sized, but is also very explosive. He could be a great change of pace back to Burkhead. Due to Nebraska’s depth issues at the position, Green has a great chance to contribute both on offense and in the return game.
New Defensive Name-to-Know:
Linebacker Lavonte David. Ok, not really a new name to know for the die-hard Husker fans. Lavonte David doesn’t get nearly enough national recognition and is probably a name most Big Ten fans don’t yet know. A JUCO transfer in 2010, David burst on to the scene for the Huskers and made a school record 153 tackles. David is a dynamic athlete that flies and around bashing people’s skulls in. Look for David to make more game changing plays in 2011 as he becomes more comfortable in his new position.
Schedule and Predictions:
Fresno State- W
Ohio State- W
Michigan State- W
@ Penn State- W
@ Michigan- W
Total: 11-1. Part of me thinks I am giving Nebraska too much respect with this 11-1 showing. The schedule makers certainly didn’t make it easy on them as they start off against the two most talented teams in the conference. If Nebraska’s offense struggles to produce consistently then games against Ohio St, Michigan St, and even @Michigan could give the Huskers trouble. Best case scenario is 11-1, worst case scenario is probably 9-3.
Bowl Game: I don’t see Nebraska beating Wisconsin in the regular season, nor do I think they beat Wisconsin in the conference championship game should they qualify. 11-2 with a loss in the Big Ten Championship Game is probably still good enough for an at-large BCS berth. If not, Nebraska will be in the Capital One Bowl.
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