Nebraska, which barely missed winning the last two national championships, and boasts a 10-game winning streak from last season, has been ranked No. 1 in the preseason football poll of each of the major wire services.
In The Associated Press poll, Nebraska received 30 of 51 first-place votes and 976 of a possible 1,020 points from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters. The Cornhuskers received 18 of a possible 41 first-place votes and 551 points in the United Press International board of coaches voting.
Nebraska was followed in the AP poll by Oklahoma, Texas, Penn State and Auburn, in that order. Rounding out UPI's top five were Texas, Auburn, Penn State and Oklahoma.
Nebraska will soon find out if its top ranking is warranted. The Cornhuskers open the season against defending national champion Penn State Monday night in an attempt to avenge their only loss of last year. Penn State was 11-1 in 1982 while Nebraska finished 12-1.
Nebraska returns tailback Mike Rozier, quarterback Turner Gill, wingback Irving Fryar and guard Dean Steinkuhler--all among the best in the country at their positions. Still, Cornhuskers Coach Tom Osborne counts only eight starters returning among 24 (including kickers) and wondered why his team is ranked first.
"It's kind of unique," said Osborne, whose Cornhuskers finished third in both polls last season. "There's probably more optimism surrounding this team than I've ever seen on a team with eight starters returning.
"The reason, I guess, is we have some people with high visibility. But you play this game with more than four people. We have to hope a lot of people come through."