No Sleep Till Football

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Nebraska’s Competition in the Big 10

There is a great Insider article about what kind of competition Nebraska is going to face in the Big 10. If you get ESPN Insider then you can read it, if you don’t get it I don’t want to spoil it for ESPN so I’ll just highlight a couple interesting things. The guys at Football Outsiders wrote the article and the gist was essentially that Nebraska is walking into a more difficult conference than the one they just left.

The Outsiders use a lot of specific data, but basically the argument is that the top of the Big 10 is just as good if not better than the top of the Big XII, but what really hurts Nebraska is that the article claims that the bottom of the Big 10 is significantly better than the bottom of the Big XII. Assuming an equal distribution of competition, Football Outsiders notes that Nebraska over the last 5 years would have actually won fewer conference games had they been in the Big 10.

A couple of thoughts here on this. Obviously the date the Football Outsiders uses is recent so it’s not exactly the Tom Osbourne era Cornhuskers we are talking about. With that said, I think most people who follow the sport are confident that Bo Pelini is the guy to bring Nebraska back. Hell if it wasn’t for one second the Cornhuskers would have won the Big XII Championship last year and headed off to a BCS bowl! Thus the Nebraska we are getting in Big 10 country is probably a lot better than the Nebraska squad spanning from 2005-2009.

However, the counterargument is that the Big 10 is getting much better itself. I’m a big believer in this concept. Ohio St. is going to be brutal this season. I don’t think Wisconsin & Iowa are that far behind. Coming up quick is Michigan St. who I believe is going to surprise A LOT of people and is a very big dark horse squad to win the entire conference! I still believe in Rich Rodriguez and if Michigan is patient they are going to be well rewarded. Penn St. lost Darryl Clark, but with a solid offensive line along with Evan Royster & Derek Moye returning, the Lions are poised for another run because the defense will always be solid. Northwestern is more than solid with Pat Fitzgerald as HC. Minnesota went to a bowl last season. Purdue beat Ohio St. last year. Even Illinois & Indiana have some upside.

To me the strength of the Big 10 is increasing faster than the strength of the Big 10. Obviously that doesn’t affect the Cornhuskers for 2010 and Nebraska should be thankful for that. How will it play in the future? Nebraska should be a top team for their new conference, but breaking through to the elite level might take a couple of years if the Big 10 keeps improving like it appears they are.

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June 15, 2010 - Posted by | Big 10, Nebraska

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