Bo Pelini: Huskers on 'cusp' of title
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is going into his new conference conceding nothing.
He knows the last thing Big Ten opponents want is for the Cornhuskers to come in and win the championship in their first year in the conference. Pelini said at a booster luncheon Wednesday that the Big Ten will have a big challenge trying to stop the Huskers from doing just that.
"I guarantee you a lot of people in the Big Ten, everyone we're playing, is saying, 'We're going to show Nebraska,'" Pelini said. "Well, they've got to line up and play us and let the chips fall where they may. We're going to be ready each and every Saturday."
The Big Ten didn't put out a coaches' preseason poll this year, but Nebraska is favored over Wisconsin and Michigan State in the often-cited media poll conducted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Huskers are coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, return key pieces of one of the nation's top defenses and will unveil a no-huddle offense with second-year starter Taylor Martinez under center.
Offensive struggles kept the Huskers from winning conference titles in their last two years in the Big 12. They lost 13-12 to Texas in the 2009 Big 12 championship game and 23-20 to Oklahoma last year after leading 17-0 in the first half.
"We want to win a championship this coming fall," said Pelini, entering his fourth year as head coach. "We haven't done that yet, and I came here and said we're all about championships. We're not playing around here for second place. I understand the responsibility. I have to put a product on the field that you'll be proud of.
"We're right on the cusp. Now we have to make a few more plays. We've been really close the last two year. It's not going to get any easier this fall. We're going to do certain things to get over the hump," he said.
Pelini didn't talk specifics about how the Huskers' schemes will change in the Big Ten. He said he would rely on his background as a player at Ohio State, graduate assistant at Iowa and defensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference (LSU) and Big 12 (Nebraska and Oklahoma).
"There's nothing that's going to happen that we haven't seen before," he said. "I've played against a lot of different styles and I believe we have all the ingredients to play all the teams and meet the challenges we'll see. Football is football. At the end of the day, you get what you earn. I believe we have systems in place that can adapt to any style."
Eleven of the 12 opponents Nebraska will play weren't on the schedule last year. The Huskers play Tennessee-Chattanooga, Fresno State and Washington at home before traveling to Wyoming. Big Ten play opens with an Oct. 1 night game at Wisconsin.
The Huskers have the toughest conference schedule, with trips to Penn State and Michigan in addition to the one to Madison. Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa are among their home opponents.
Pelini said the leadership and chemistry of his team "are at an all-time high."
"I wouldn't trade any other football team for the one I have to go and take the field with this fall to meet that challenge," he said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press