Nebraska’s biggest hurdle to a run at a Big Ten West Division title may be its schedule. Phil Steele’s College Preview Magazine picks the Huskers to finish third in the division and a big reason is crossover games against East Division favorite Ohio State and defending Big Ten champion Penn State.
“The schedule has always been a huge factor year in and year out in all of the conferences”, said Steele. “If you draw two of the big boys or miss two of the big boys that could be a pretty big difference over the course of a season.”
Wisconsin is the preseason favorite in the division and the Huskers do play the Badgers along with Northwestern and Iowa in Memorial Stadium.
Steele says new starting quarterback Tanner Lee will be a perfect fit for Mike Riley’s system. The Tulane transfer was named the starting quarterback at the end of spring drills.
“Mike Riley over at Oregon State ran a pass happy offense and I think Lee will come in and thrive in this offense.”
Steele expects the Huskers defense to show improvement under first-year coordinator Bob Diaco. Big plays hurt Nebraska in losses to Ohio State, Iowa and a loss to Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.
“I am looking for Nebraska to improve on the defensive side with six starters back”, added Steele. “They have some talented athletes.”
Phil Steele’s College Football Preview will be on the newsstands June 27.