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HUSKER    DAN



HUSKER DAN'S PRETTY PERKY, PUGNACIOUS, PRESEASON PIGSKIN PROCRASTINATIONS-ER, PROGNOSTICATIONS ARE FINALLY HERE!!

Yes, Husker fans, if you are still confused about how the Huskers are going to do this fall, sit back and relax. Husker Dan has come to the rescue with his special preview of the 2007 season.

HD wants to make sure you are kept on the bleeding edge, er, leading edge of Husker football. He has pulled out all the stops to make sure you are in the know. He has consulted with Madame Whackeau, the famous palm reader and part time gas station attendant in Van Nuys, California; has used the dart board at the Sidetrack in Lincoln and has even communicated with the hereafter on his brand new Parker Brothers ouija board.

Here's the long and short of it.

Okay, so the Big 12 media have picked the vaunted Missouri Tigers to win the Big 12 North this fall. That's right, Missouri. End of discussion. Gary Pinkle and his Tigers are going to be the top dogs of the North. Right. A team that hasn't won a conference championship since 1969 is all of a sudden going to be crowned as winners of the BTN.

Huh? What the hell are these guys smoking, anyway?

Excuse me if I don't hop on the Tigers' bandwagon. Yes, I know the showdown with Missouri will be in Columbia where the Huskers haven't won since Eric Crouch's amazing Heisman winning TD run in 2001.

Columbia hasn't been kind to the Huskers the last two times these teams met in '05 and '03, the Tigers winning by a combined score of 82-48. Not a pretty sight if you're a Husker fan.

Before we take a look at the 2007 schedule, let's see what the Huskers are facing this year.

1.) The loss of Big 12 Offensive Player of the year, Zac Taylor.

Ordinarily, a player like Taylor would be hard to replace. Keep in mind, this will be the 4th time in the last 5 years that the Huskers will have a new starting quarterback.

Not to worry. This week, Sam Keller was named as the starter for the season opener with Nevada. What Sam brings to the game is a lot of talent and much more game experience than Joe Ganz. At ASU, Sam played in 9 games, starting in 5 of them. This isn't to take anything from Joe, but Sam has the "wow" factor and Joe doesn't. But listen up Joe: I feel your pain, but you'd better be ready to play every game this fall because I won't be surprised if you come off the bench at a very critical time this fall to save the Huskers' bacon. Remember, you heard it here first.

2.) Loss of the starting defensive front four

Losing players like Adam Carriker and Jay Moore to the NFL could have, in the past, been a crushing blow to the Blackshirts. But look for newbies like Zach Potter and Barry Turner flourish as their replacements. Ndamukong Suh and Ty Steinkuhler will anchor the interior. BTW, have you seen Suh's biceps? They look like most players' thighs. The man is unbelievable. Throw in Pierre Allen and Shukree Barfield, Brandon Johnson, Kevin Dixon, Clayton Sievers and Andy Poulosky and you have talent and some much needed depth. And because the Huskers will be stocked at the linebacker position, look for the Huskers to play some 3-4 defense.

I won't go into all the positions but here's a brief overview of the rest of the team:
1.) O-line will be the best and deepest of the Callahan Era
2.) Receivers will possibly be the best in school history.
3.) Running game will be better and more experienced. Glenn and Lucky need to stay healthy.
4.) Linebackers will be among the best in the BT.
5.) Return game has nowhere to go but up. Look for Prince Amukamara to step up.
6.) Kicking game will be much better on kickoffs and field goals with the addition of Adi Kunalic.
7.) Safety position will be deeper, more speed and more depth.
8.) Cornerback will be better, especially if Zack Bowman can contribute early and at the same level as before his knee injury.
9.) Coaching will be improved. Shawn Watson will get a head coaching job soon, especially if the Huskers have a breakout season this year.

THE SCHEDULE
Game #1 Nevada (W)
If this game is close at the half, most Husker fans will be shocked. Husker should win big, but remember Boise State.
Game #2 @Wake Forest (W)
This one is more important than it might seem. Lose this game and the Huskers, following the shoot-out with Southern California on the 15th, could be looking down the barrel of a 1-2 record-not a good way to start the season.
Game #3 USC (L)
SoCal will come to town with a #1 ranking, the leading Heisman candidate at QB and a defense that returns 10 of 11 starters. USC will also bring with them a huge target on their backs. If these two teams played each other 10 times, the Huskers might win 2 or 3. But the Huskers aren't playing them 10 times-just once. NU will have to keep the crowd in this one through the 4th quarter to have a chance.
Game #4 Ball State (W)
Not even BS alumnus David Letterman will want to watch this game.
Game #5 Iowa State (W)
Cyclone new head coach Gene Chizik was quoted earlier this summer as saying, "I've really enjoyed being the head coach at Iowa State." Dude, wait until you've played your nightmare schedule.
Game #6 @Missouri (W)
The Tigers have Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman and Chase Patton but the Tigers will be chasing the Huskers for the BTN. Should the Huskers lose this game, they can still win the North.
Game #7 Oklahoma State (W)
The Cowboys have a great offense, but until they can play defense, they won't go too far.
Game #8 Texas A&M (W)
This will be a revenge game for the Aggies. It's a good thing for the Huskers that this game is in Lincoln. Look for Callahan to out coach Franchione.
Game #9 @Texas (L)
The Huskers lost a golden opportunity to get Bill Callahan his first signature win at Nebraska last year when Terrence Nunn fumbled the ball with 2:17 remaining. The Huskers will get BC his first SW this season. If the Huskers don't win at home with SoCal, then maybe they can get one in Austin where the Huskers haven't won since the Eisenhower Administration. BTW, the Huskers over the past 4 years are 0-4 in the 9th game of the season.
Game #10 @Kansas (W)
Beware of an ambush in Lawrence. Wouldn't that be tragic if the Huskers beat Texas and then stumbled at Kansas? Perish the thought.
Game #11 Kansas State (W)
Wildcat head coach Ron Prince is not going to win himself a lot of friends by making his assistants run stairs. Sigh. Huskers should have no problem in this one.
Game #12 @Colorado (W)
Beware of another ambush-a mini-ambush, if you will. The BTN crown could hinge on this game.

BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Husker-Sooner rematch

NORTH DIVISION                                     SOUTH DIVISION
Nebraska                                                    Oklahoma
Missouri                                                       Texas
Kansas                                                       Texas A&M
Kansas State                                           Oklahoma State
Colorado                                                    Texas Tech
Iowa State                                                    Baylor

If you'd like to give Husker Dan a piece of your mind you may email Husker Dan at huskerdan@cox.net.  For past Husker Dan columns, click here.