Coach Bo Pelini's love-hate affair with the Big Red Nation seems to be warm and fuzzy again, especially after the Cornhuskers knocked off Georgia 24-19 in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. Pelini showed more of his soft side during the spring, entering Nebraska's spring game with, of all things, a furry cat. But Nebraska's fickle fan base won't be laughing if the Cornhuskers lose four games or more for the seventh straight season under Pelini. Tommy Armstrong Jr.
won the starting quarterback job, and he will get plenty of help from a deep running back core, which includes Ameer Abdullah
and bruising runner Imani Cross
. The offensive line figures to be better with left guard Jake Cotton
and left tackle Alex Lewis (Colorado transfer) bringing a degree of toughness that has been missing. Nebraska's front seven on defense should be stout, led by end Randy Gregory
and tackle Vincent Valentine
It might be a big season for Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, who is out to prove that last season's 7-6 finish was an anomaly. Hoke hasn't been shy about questioning the leadership and toughness of last season's team. But if Michigan is going to rebound in Hoke's fourth season in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines will have to be much better on both lines of scrimmage. Quarterback Devin Gardner
struggled last season, but it certainly didn't help that he was sacked a whopping 34 times. Even worse, Michigan lost All-Big Ten tackle Taylor Lewan
and right tackle Michael Schofield
. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier wants the Wolverines to run the ball downhill, so finding five capable starters on the line will be a priority in preseason camp. Wide receiver Freddy Canteen, a midyear enrollee, was perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring and might give UM a much-needed deep threat in the passing game.