Nebraska's official entry into the Big Ten arrives on Friday. The Cornhuskers' debut football season in the league will be here before you know it. Let's take a quick look at the opponent for the program's first-ever game as a Big Ten member.
Week 1 Opponent: Chattanooga
Coach: Russ Huesman (second year, 12-10)
2010 record: 6-5 (5-3, Southern Conference)
Returning starters: 14 (five offense, nine defense)
About the Mocs: Huesman, a defensive standout for Chattanooga when the team won two Southern Conference championships in the late 1970s, early 1980s, was hired as head coach after a disastrous 1-11 season in 2008. He has helped restore the program to a better level, as the Mocs earned a Top 20 FCS ranking in October of last year before losing three of their final four games -- including a 62-24 loss to eventual BCS champion Auburn. This season, he'll have a third-year starting quarterback in B.J. Coleman, whose favorite target, Joel Bradford, finished second in the FCS in 2010 with 1,284 receiving yards. Bradford had two games of more than 250 receiving yards last season. Chris Awauh and J.J. Jackson split time at running back, but the Mocs must replace three starting offensive linemen. The defense returns virtually intact, led by linebacker Ryan Consiglio.
Random factoid: The Chattanooga mascot has had many lives. At first, it was portrayed as a water moccasin. A shoe was used in the 1960s and 1970s (talk about intimidating -- "Fear the Loafer!"). The school then employed Chief Moccanooga, a cartoonish Cherokee tribesman. Realizing how insensitive that was to Native Americans, the school shortened the nickname to Mocs in 1996 and transformed it into a mockingbird named "Scrappy," who wears a railroad engineer outfit (naturally). Wonder which mascot the program's most famous -- or infamous -- alumnus, Terrell Owens, prefers.
Series with Nebraska: First meeting.
Totally unscientific percentage chance Nebraska wins: 97.5 percent. Chattanooga appears to be an improving team and had one of the best passing offenses in the FCS a year ago. Its defense will be very experienced, but the Mocs had trouble stopping people last season, and Nebraska is a huge step up from the FCS competition. Chattanooga has some experience in hostile environments, playing the past two BCS champions (Auburn and Alabama) on the road in consecutive years, plus games at Florida State and Oklahoma in 2008. But none of those games was closer than 38 points, and it would take a near miracle to avoid a similar lopsided outcome in Lincoln on Sept. 3.
Previously in the series