Softer schedule will set up Taylor Martinez-led Cornhuskers for breakthrough in Big Ten race

If the schedule is an indication, Nebraska's initiation to the Big Ten is over and the Cornhuskers are set up to make hay.

Coach Bo Pelini starts his sixth season in Lincoln with one of the nation's most dynamic offenses and a young defense that will benefit from playing its first five games at home.

UCLA is the only real non-conference test. Big Ten favorite Ohio State and three-time defending champion Wisconsin drop off the regular-season schedule and are replaced by Illinois and Purdue.

It probably will be November before anyone knows how good the Huskers are, after they play Northwestern at home and Michigan and Penn State on the road.

The Huskers open the season Aug. 31 at home against Wyoming.