The Big Ten is a tough, grind-it-out conference. Nearly all the schools within the conference build their programs around a physical running game and a relentless defense.
That's just how it is in the Big Ten.
For Nebraska, the move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten will take some time to adjust. At least, that's what many believe. But after digging into some numbers, the Huskers specifically the offense - may be better off in the Big Ten rather than the Big 12.
With high-powered, high-scoring offenses such as Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Missouri, the Big 12 tends to showcase the passing attack more so than the running game. Last season, their were four Big 12 schools -- Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M -- who had 28 or more receiving touchdowns compared to just one Big Ten school who did so: Ohio State.
The style of play in the Big 12 is more finesse than physical; something that seemed to affect Nebraska last season.
Bruce Thorson - US PRESSWIRE
The Cornhuskers finished among the bottom half for receiving touchdowns last season with 17 because Nebraska lacks a high-octane passing attack. Not trying to knock Taylor Martinez, but he is better off making plays with his legs and picking apart the opposition with check down passes and quick hitting plays.
This style of play is better suited for the Big Ten.
Ironically enough, Nebraska finished with 3,375 rushing yards. That was by far and away the highest total in the Big 12 (Kansas State finished in 2nd with 2,472 yards). If Nebraska put up those numbers in the Big Ten last season, they would have finished No.1 in the conference -- over 300 yards ahead of Michigan.
With their running attack, which features the versatile Martinez and junior running back Rex Burkhead, Nebraska should be able to adjust pretty quickly to the Big Ten's style of play.
Now whether or not they can stop the opposition's running game is still to be seen, but the Blackshirts were a top ten defense last season, and with the return of Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonzo Denard among others, Nebraska's defense should once again be one of the best in the nation.
Last season, Nebraska surrendered just 17.2 points per game, which would have ranked third in the Big Ten just behind Ohio State and Iowa -- two of the top teams in the conference a year ago. Nebraska also would have ranked second in yards per game (304.2) behind Ohio State, and fifth in rushing touchdowns allowed.
The Huskers have been stressing the fact to be a much more physical defense because of the Big Ten's demanding schedule and heavy running packages. There's many big, talented backs in the Big Ten, as well as many shifty runners in the conference. But Nebraska certainly has the personnel to match up with the opposition's running attack.
Between their impressive ground game from a year ago -- as well as the maturity growth of Martinez -- and their nationally ranked defense, Nebraska could find themselves better fitted for the Big Ten compared to the Big 12.
But only time will tell.
- Josh Harvey -