Although Sunday didn't carry the historical significance in the Big Ten as it did in leagues like the Big 12, the SEC and the Big East, it did mark a milestone. Nebraska has now been in the Big Ten for a full year.
The Huskers left the Big 12 for the Big Ten on July 1, 2011. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany called it "a good day to celebrate and recognize."
Well, today is a good day to look back on the Huskers' first year in the Big Ten.
The team entered the fall picked by many to win the league, but ended up going 9-4 and finishing third in the Legends division. Nebraska's highlights included a record comeback to beat Ohio State in Lincoln and a decisive victory against division champion Michigan State. But the Huskers also were blown out at Wisconsin and at Michigan and suffered a home loss to a 2-5 Northwestern team. They ended the season with a disappointing performance against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
Nebraska showed in games like Michigan State that it could hang with the Big Ten's best and play the type of airtight defense needed to succeed in this league. But the consistency just wasn't there from week to week, which certainly had something to do with the difficulty of preparing for so many new teams. Although coach Bo Pelini and his assistants downplayed the preparation demands at the time, several coaches told ESPN.com this spring that the unknowns going into each week provided significant challenges.
Time will tell if Nebraska has a better team in its second Big Ten go-round, but I'm confident the Huskers will be a better-prepared squad in 2012. Nebraska also will have more of a Big Ten look over time, as the Huskers are reshaping their defense with more linebacker recruits and targeting more prospects in Big Ten country.
From a cultural fit standpoint, Nebraska blended in well with its new league. Husker fans backed up their rep and turned out in force for league road games. Most Big Ten fans I've heard from loved their visit to Lincoln. I've really enjoyed my dealings with Nebraska fans, who for the most part blend passion for their team with a realistic view of the program. It's interesting to get their perspective on the Big Ten, the Rose Bowl and other notable topics.
So happy 1st birthday, Big Red. You will no longer be referred to as "new Big Ten member Nebraska."
For Huskers fans, what did you think about your first year in the Big Ten? Share your thoughts here.