Huskers hope to step it up

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska goes into the season looking to challenge for the Big Ten conference championship it was predicted to win last year.

The Cornhuskers haven't won a conference title in 12 years, the program's longest drought since going 22 years without one from 1941-62.

Last year marked the fourth straight year the Huskers have won at least nine games. Offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles says an eight- or nine-win season is good, but the Huskers aspire to be great.

The Huskers have a three-year starter in quarterback Taylor Martinez, a durable and tough running back in Rex Burkhead and a dynamic receiver in Kenny Bell.

The defense is confident it can stop its slide in the national rankings the past two years despite having a lineman, linebacker and cornerback taken in the NFL draft. The opener is Sept. 1 at home against Southern Miss.

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