nebraska huskersfootball schedule analysis Nebraska Huskers

Bye weekThis comes after Nebraska has played seven games, coming after a tough twogame home stand of Wisconsin and Ohio State. The time off should allow the Cornhuskers to rest up for a strong finishat least thats the hope.

Toughest nonconference gameThis is a nobrainer, as the game at Oregon on Sept. will be the biggest challenge. The Huskers beat the Ducks last year in Lincoln, , but that was an Oregon squad that went on to finish and missed a bowl for the first time since . UO coach Mark Helfrich was fired and the school bed Willie Taggart from South Florida to assume command. NU coach Mike Riley knows Oregon well from his days as head coach at Oregon State.

Toughest conference gameLets go with the trip to Penn State on Nov. in the penultimate game of the season. The Nittany Lions are loaded and may be the preseason Big Ten vorite coming off an improbable conference title in . These storied programs havent clashed since in State Collegeand have met just three times since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten. And Nebraska has won all three meetings. PSU last toppled the Huskers in in Beaver Stadium. The visit from Ohio State on Oct. the Buckeyes first to Lincoln since when NU won will be a challenge, as well. The Buckeyes have won the last two vs. Nebraska in dominating shion, taking a decision last year in Columbus and a outcome in in Columbus.

Who they dont playThe Cornhuskers miss Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana. Avoiding the Wolverines is good, but Nebraska probably would have liked its chances vs. the other three schools it will miss in . Oh, well.

About Tom DienhartBTN senior writer Tom Dienhartis a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and mens basketball for BTN and BTN TV. Find him onTwitterandFacebook, and send him questions to hisweekly mailbag.

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Easiest gameThe visit from Rutgers on Sept. may be even easier than the seasonopening home game vs. Sun Belt foe Arkansas State, which has gone to bowls in each of the last six seasons and will be paid . million for coming to Lincoln. NU beat ASU in and . Still, topping the Red Wolveswhere coaches like Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin have coachedis no layup. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights are in the midst of building coming off a debut under Chris Ash that saw Rutgers lose its last nine games of . Nebraska is alltime vs. the Scarlet Knights, winning in and as Big Ten foes.

Toughest stretchNovember will be a challenge as it opens with a visit from Northwestern, which could be the Big Ten West vorite. Thats followed by consecutive games at Minnesota and at Penn State. Then, the season ends with a visit from Iowa. This stretch could make or break the Huskers West Division title hopes. The games vs. Northwestern have been fun and exciting, as the Cornhuskers have won four of the last five. But the Wildcats won the last time they visited Lincoln in . Nebraska won the last meeting vs. Minnesota. Before that, the Gophers took two in a row from the Huskers. Nebraska has won all three games vs. Penn State as a member of the Big Ten. Iowa has won the last two vs. Nebraska.

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But the schedule sets up well for the Cornhuskers, with Big Ten West heavies Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern all coming to Lincoln.

Best chance to pull an upsetWisconsin has been a nemesis of sorts for Nebraska, the program the Huskers must catch if they want to rule the West and win a conference title for the first time since . The Badgers may be vored when they come to Lincoln on Oct. . But UW could go down if its offense is too runoriented. Wisconsin has won four in a row vs. the Cornhuskers and five of six.

Riley altered his staff, shocking many by firing defensive coordinator Mark Banker. And Riley made a splash by replacing Banker with former UConn coach Bob Diaco, who has installed a scheme. Also, secondary coach Brian Stewart left to run the defense at Rice and Riley turned around and hired sage Bob Elliott. There also will be a new quarterback, with Tulane transfer Tanner Lee taking over.

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Hope floats as Mike Riley begins his third season at Nebraska. And, a lot has changed.

Must winThere are two, as Nebraska needs to win at Illinois on Sept. and at Purdue on Oct. . The Huskers suffered embarrassing losses the last time they visited both schools in . No doubt, the Cornhuskers will want revenge after Illinois scored fourth quarter points to take a decision. And the loss at Purdue was a catastrophe and one of the worst losses in school annals. The Huskers had five turnovers and came up short even after scoring fourthquarter points. This was just one of three Big Ten wins the Boilermakers netted the last four seasonsand the programs only conference home victory from . The ignominy for NU.

Best chance to be upsetNebraska should be vored in the finale on Black Friday when Iowa visits Lincoln. The Hawkeyes have won the last two meetings and three of the last four. If the Cornhuskers want to move up the pecking order of the Big Ten West, they need to start beating Iowa, which will have a new QB.nebraska huskersfootball schedule analysis Nebraska Huskers