Fifth in a series

Coach: Bo Pelini, 49-20 entering sixth season at Nebraska and overall

2012 record: 10-4, 7-1 Big Ten (First, Legends), lost to Wisconsin 70-31 in Big Ten Championship, lost to Georgia 45-31 in Capital One Bowl

Offensive starters returning (7): RB Ameer Abdullah, WR Kenny Bell, WR Quincy Enunwa, OL Spencer Long, QB Taylor Martinez, OL Brent Ovale, OL Jeremiah Sirles

Defensive starters returning (5): DE Jason Ankrah, DB Ciante Evans, CB Andrew Green, CB Josh Mitchell, DT Thad Randle

Specialists returning (0): None

Returning statistical leaders: Rushing, Ameer Abdullah 226-1,137; Passing, Taylor Martinez, 228-368-12-2,871-23; Receiving, Kenny Bell 50-863; Tackles, Ciante Evans 56; Interceptions, Stanley Jean-Baptiste 2-48

Starring roles

Taylor Martinez: The Cornhuskers’ all-Big Ten quarterback will look to build on a growth filled junior season which saw him raise his completion percentage from 56 to 62 percent and orchestrate second-half comebacks against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State a year ago. Martinez threw for 2,781 yards and 23 touchdowns last season at the controls of a no-huddle offense which is looking to push the tempo even more in 2013.

Ameer Abdullah: Although he sat out most of spring drills because of a knee injury, Nebraska’s returning starting I-back rushed for 1,137 yards last season and will lead a group of skill players working behind a line which returns three starters including honorable mention all-American guard Spencer Long. Ball security has been a point of emphasis throughout the offseason at Nebraska, which ranked second in FBS football a year ago when it turned the ball over 35 times.

On the rise

Kenny Bell: Established a Nebraska sophomore receiving record a year ago when he covered 863 yards on 50 catches and his big-play ability gives Martinez a reliable receiver whose skills will be complemented by Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner, who finished with 42 and 32 receptions a year ago, respectively.

Newbie

Randy Gregory: With David Santos the only returning linebacker with starting experience – the sophomore started one game – the Cornhuskers will look to strength up front where Gregory is expected to make an immediate impact. A junior college all-American in 2011 when he recorded 82 tackles, including 21 for a loss, Gregory sat out 2012 with a broken leg but is expected to help lead the Nebraska defensive front.

The big number

214

Points allowed by Nebraska in its four losses last season

Coach speak

“We’re going to get what we earn. We understand that. We understand that the challenges are going to be there right from the first week, right on through, and we’re looking forward to everything that lies ahead. It’s about getting out there and improving as a football team.” – Nebraska coach Bo Pelini

2013 schedule

Aug. 31 – Wyoming

Sept. 7 – Southern Mississippi

Sept. 14 – UCLA

Sept. 21 – South Dakota State

Oct. 5 – Illinois

Oct. 12 – at Purdue

Oct. 26 – at Minnesota

Nov. 2 – Northwestern

Nov. 9 – at Michigan

Nov. 16 – Michigan State

Nov. 23 – at Penn State

Nov. 29 – Iowa

Numerology

Where Nebraska ranked in the Big Ten in 2012:

Scoring offense: 34.8 (Second)

Rushing offense: 253.4 (First)

Passing offense: 207.4 (Fifth)

Total offense: 460.8 (First)

Scoring defense: 27.6 (Ninth)

Rushing defense: 192.5 (Tenth)

Passing defense: 168.1 (First)

Total defense: 360.6 (Seventh)

Trends

The Cornhuskers’ record over the last five seasons:

2008: 9-4

2009: 10-4

2010: 10-4

2011: 9-4

2012: 10-4

Eye on Iowa

Record in the last five games vs. the Hawkeyes:

1982: Nebraska 42, Iowa 7

1999: Nebraska 42, Iowa 7

2000: Nebraska 42, Iowa 13

2011: Nebraska 20, Iowa 7

2012: Nebraska 13, Iowa 7