The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sure can pick 'em.
As the Mocs continue their preparations for Saturday's season opener against No. 10 Nebraska, consider UTC's recent run of Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
The Mocs have played the past two Bowl Championship Series national champions -- Alabama (2009) and Auburn (2010) -- and 2008 opponent Oklahoma was in the BCS title game. They've also faced the past three Heisman Trophy winners: Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Alabama's Mark Ingram and Auburn's Cam Newton.
Nebraska may be in the hunt for a national title and Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez is a long-shot Heisman candidate, but the Huskers have one thing in common with UTC's previous FBS opponents: They have one of the top defensive linemen in the country.
Saturday, UTC will face what should be a dominating defense led by All-America tackle Jared Crick. The website NFLDraftScout.com rates Crick as the No. 10 overall prospect for the 2012 draft.
The 6-foot-2, 285-pound senior has posted 9.5 sacks the past two seasons, and last year he had 70 tackles, including 17 for loss. He's just one of the players UTC's young offensive line is going to have to slow to protect quarterback B.J. Coleman.
"It's mostly about us. We've just got to play our game," said right guard Kevin Revis, a Tennessee transfer, after Tuesday's practice.
In 2009 the Mocs had to contend with Alabama's Terrence Cody and Marcell Dareus. Cody was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft, and Dareus was the third overall pick this year.
Last season it was Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, the 13th overall pick in 2011.
As if Crick and the rest of the defensive line weren't enough -- the foursome has a combined 58 career starts -- Nebraska also has preseason All-Americans in linebacker Lavonte David (he set a school record with 152 tackles last season) and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (the No. 11 overall prospect by NFLDraftScout.com).
In 2010, the Blackshirts ranked ninth in the FBS in scoring defense (17.4 ppg allowed) and No. 11 in total defense (306.8 ypg).
"We understand what Nebraska brings to the table," Coleman said. "We've got a challenge there, offensively. I think if we can hold up and I can make the decisions to get [the ball] out of my hand quickly to our receivers and backs, we might be able to move the football."
UTC managed just 84 yards of offense against Alabama's defense, one of the best in Tide history, but was much more productive against Auburn. Coleman threw for 210 yards and the Mocs had 334 total against the Tigers.
Saturday's game will be telecast on the Big Ten Network. It can be seen locally on Comcast (channel 742), DirectTV (610), Dish Network (439), AT&T U-Verse (650) and EPB (630). ... Nebraska has sold out every game (311) at Memorial Stadium since November 1962. The Huskers have won 25 straight season openers.