Early Week 1 preview: Nebraska

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
2:15
PM ET
We're in the midst of one of the slowest points in the college football calendar, but never fear. Training camps will open in less than six weeks, and the season is a little more than two months away.

To get you through the dead period and to pump you up for fall, we're here to take an early preview of what each team can expect from its Week 1 opponent. First up: the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Week 1 Opponent: Southern Miss

Coach: Ellis Johnson (first year)

2011 record: 12-2 (6-2 Conference USA; won Hawaii Bowl)

Returning starters: 10 (six offense, four defense)

About the Golden Eagles: Nebraska certainly didn't sign up for a cupcake opener, as the Huskers must face a team that won 12 games and blew out Houston in the C-USA championship game last season. But this is probably a good time to get the Golden Eagles. Johnson, the former South Carolina defensive coordinator, takes over as head coach after Larry Fedora took the North Carolina job. The team also must replace quarterback Austin Davis -- who threw for nearly 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns last season -- its leading rusher, top two receivers and five of its top eight tacklers from '11. Southern Miss finished 14th in the FBS in scoring last year at nearly 37 points per game but likely will struggle to match that production without Davis and Fedora. Hotshot incoming freshman Anthony Alford -- who had multiple SEC offers and was selected in the third round of the MLB draft by Toronto last month -- could start at quarterback right away. Making a career debut at Nebraska wouldn't be the easiest of assignments.

Random factoid: Southern Miss, which is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., has had several nicknames over the years. The school's first sports teams were called Normalites, which was later changed to the Yellow Jackets. In 1940, the teams became known as Confederates, which was later amended to Southerners. The Golden Eagles mascot was adopted in 1972.

Series with Nebraska: The Cornhuskers lead 2-1. Southern Miss won the last meeting, 21-17 in Lincoln in 2004.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Nebraska wins: 84 percent. Nebraska fans should know better than to discount Southern Miss's chances -- all they have to do is remember what happened eight years ago. This is a solid program with good talent and coaching. But with a new head coach and a lot of green players, including the quarterback, the Golden Eagles will be vulnerable on the road in such a tough environment. The Huskers have talked this offseason about wanting to get back to a national championship level. If they're truly serious about that, they should win this opener without too many problems.

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Friday, 12/26
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