10 Year Member
Nebraska was seen as a co-favorite in the Big Ten West last season. League reporters weren't so kind in 2020.
At this point in time 4th is fair and I totally understand it.Nebraska is actually closer to Purdue at 5th than Iowa at 3rd.
Questionable (or TBD) with WR -- potential is there, experience is lacking. Otherwise, yes, in theory the offense should be better this season. It about has to be, I'd think (it was bad last season). But it ultimately hinges on Martinez. He's such a question mark until we see him play.At this point in time 4th is fair and I totally understand it.
That said, the only West team with whom I see a big gap is Wisconsin. Iowa lost a number of key players, including a multi-year starter at QB and an All-American Defensive Lineman, from a team that beat us on a last-second field goal last year (and the year before). Minnesota caught lightning in a bottle last year, but they lose one of their top two WRs, two of their top three RBs, and virtually all of their front seven on defense. If - and this is always a big if with NU - the team can get its act together, we are very capable of beating both of those teams. The problem is we have also demonstrated that we are very capable of losing to Purdue and Northwestern.
In theory, every part of our offense should be better and deeper this year... QB, RB, WR, TE, and O-Line. Defense is where it gets tricky. DB play should be comparable to last season, but it's hard to say we will be better without Lamar Jackson. At LB, the temptation is to say that it can't be much worse than it was last year. If we can get even average (for the Big 10) play at LB, that would be a huge improvement. D-Line is the one position on the team that is probably trending down right now after the loss of three starters who are all in NFL camps. Special teams has to be better, right? We were brutal last year on kickoff coverage, kickoff returns, punt returns, and place kicking.
I'd consider Penn State -- who is likely the second best team in the Big Ten. And if the schedule holds, the Nittany Lions will host Ohio State. FWIW, the current preseason poll consensus has Penn State #5 in the nation. In the past four seasons, Penn State has finished in the top ten three times -- winning 11 games each of those seasons. They've also won a Big Ten Championship in that same time span and had two Big Ten East division second place finishes. The only thing that has kept Penn State from being the top dog in the Big Ten the past few years has been Ohio State.What stuck out to me more than anything is how the West seems to have closed the gap on the East. Outside of Ohio State, I don't see the East being more formidable than the West.