As is the case every year, there are plenty of teams facing a difficult schedule in 2013. Nebraska is not one of them. In fact, the reigning Legends Division champs could plausibly be undefeated well into October, if not later. The Cornhuskers return the bulk of their offensive production, including quarterback Taylor Martinez as well as their leading rusher and leading receiver.
2013 Nebraska schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The only contest setting up as a potential tripping point in September is UCLA, but that game is in Lincoln, where the Huskers will play all of their first five games. After a warm-up against FCS South Dakota State, they ease into Big Ten play with Illinois and Purdue, followed by another bye week and a trip to Minnesota. As far as advantageous starts to conference play go, this one is up there.
It's November when things begin to get serious. Road trips to Michigan and Penn State sandwich a home game against Michigan State, and any one of those games could prove critical in the division race. Penn State may be ineligible for postseason play, but the outcome of that one certainly could have a major impact on Nebraska's postseason positioning. The Northwestern game that precedes this stretch will be important as well.
The Cornhuskers should be in fine shape when they hit November, and while the road games in the final month are tough, overall it's a manageable slate. Nebraska dodged both Ohio State and Wisconsin, giving it an immediate leg up on some other teams in the Legends Division. Now the Cornhuskers just have to take advantage of that.