Third in a series that examines a stretch that could make or break the season for a Big Ten team.
Next up, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Key stretch: at Wisconsin (Oct. 1), Ohio State (Oct. 8), at Minnesota (Oct. 22), Michigan State (Oct. 29)
Breakdown: We'll learn a lot about the Big Ten's newest member during the Huskers' first month in the league. Although this stretch features only two Legends division games -- I've harped on the importance of division play and will continue to do so -- Nebraska will face three teams likely appearing in the preseason top 20. The Big Ten opener in Madison provides Nebraska with an immediate taste of the raucous road environments it will face in the Big Ten. Many also see the Wisconsin game as a preview of the inaugural Big Ten championship game in December. Nebraska then returns home to host Ohio State under the lights. Ohio State will get Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas back from suspension in Lincoln. After an open week and a trip to Minnesota, Nebraska hosts defending Big Ten co-champion Michigan State in a game that could decide the Legends division.
Prediction: October certainly provides a stern test for the Huskers, who have several chances to prove themselves in their new league. The good news is Nebraska faces both Ohio State and Michigan State in Lincoln, while Wisconsin won't be too battle tested when the Huskers visit Camp Randall Stadium. Nebraska should handle Minnesota after the open week. I'm looking at 3-1 or 2-2 for the Huskers during the stretch, leaning toward 3-1, which should put them in good shape for a trip to Indy.
More key stretch