Game Day: Nebraska vs. Southern Miss

Can't touch this

Even after a week of soul-searching, the Husker coaches are expressing steadfast confidence that the defense will take a big step forward. More than 90,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and a Big Ten Network audience await improvement against a Golden Eagles offense that scored 15 points in a loss to Texas State. With reporters swarming them this week, defensive coaches said they await it, too. They peered pragmatically — and, at times, confidently — at the road ahead after Nebraska gave up 602 yards and 35 first downs against Wyoming.

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Southern Miss rush defense

Nebraska put up a sound number last week, running for 375 yards (and 6.0 per carry). It also spread out 47 carries among I-backs Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby, with fresh legs a chance to be a factor again. Southern Miss allowed Texas State a net 73 rushing yards last week, but this is a different kind of challenge for the Golden Eagles. Edge: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. Southern Miss pass defense

Taylor Martinez takes another shot at USM after scorching the Golden Eagles for 354 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. The Huskers didn't get too fancy against Wyoming as Martinez went 17 of 22, and took few chances downfield. Martinez finished with 155 yards -- his only game lower last season was at Iowa in the cold -- but did connect on three TDs. Edge: NU

Southern Miss rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The lost yardage from three sacks last week helped keep the Golden Eagles' rushing total to just 23 yards. If they can't get anything established running the ball -- or don't really try -- they could be throwing it 50-plus times again. That would make it easy on a Husker defense that got gouged at times by Wyoming, especially up the middle. Edge: NU

Southern Miss pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Golden Eagles go from one of the worst passing units in Conference USA to an intriguing attack with coach Todd Monken and QB Allan Bridgford. The Cal transfer passed for 377 yards last week, and receivers Tyre'oune Holmes and Rickey Bradley combined for 19 catches and 289 yards. Some pressure might be needed to keep them from playing catch. Edge: Southern Miss

Special teams

Other than a failed PAT, NU got off to a good start. Its kick coverage included four touchbacks and three returns to the 18, 22 and 17. Redshirt freshman punter Sam Foltz was sharp, and Kenny Bell put a little pizzazz in the kick-return game with 37- and 35-yarders. The Eagles have a pair of returners to watch in Jalen Richard and Emmanuel Johnson. Edge: NU

Intangibles

NU plays at home (the game was moved from Hattiesburg). UCLA is on deck, but the Huskers should be zoned in after last week's finish. USM is heading into its second game under Monken, the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator. Some Eagles have been to Lincoln before, but that was a 49-20 wipeout last year. Edge: NU

Key matchup: NU defensive line vs. Southern Miss offensive line

A number of Nebraska defensive linemen, including Avery Moss (left) and Vincent Valentine (center), got either their first or most significant playing time as Huskers last week. The reviews were about as mixed as you might expect. Here's the difference Saturday night: Southern Miss likely isn't going to be able to generate the same kind of run game as Wyoming, and quarterback Allan Bridgford probably won't be as slippery as Brett Smith. So the job should be easier for that front four.

Our take

There was some hand-wringing after the close call last week, but we'll give NU a clean slate and see if it can put together a more complete effort. USM, which has lost 13 straight games, committed six turnovers last week, so it has more than its own issues. Gaining some momentum and positive vibes will be a must with UCLA coming next week.

Our prediction: Nebraska 46, Southern Mississippi 23

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

BRT Podcast

Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon analyze the breakdowns in Nebraska’s season-opening win over Wyoming. Nothing seemed to go as planned for the Huskers Saturday. The two Husker beat writers examine what might have caused the close call, while pondering a few possible structural changes NU could make along the way. Click here »

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

On social media

Check out the Big Red Today page on Facebook to discuss the latest news with the top Husker fans, and follow us on Twitter to get instant updates and analysis whenever news breaks.

BRT app

iPhone and Android users, get your Husker updates on the go by downloading our free Big Red Today app from the App Store and the Google Play store. Omaha.com/BRTapp and Omaha.com/android

Big Red Today coverage

Shatel: A near-perfect night for Husker fans filled with hope, frustration and euphoria

What a night to be alive in Lincoln. On a mild December Saturday night, the Haymarket was electric, buzzing with pride and excitement and anticipation.

Scott Frost's appearance at Nebraska basketball game sends fans into a frenzy

Few knew for certain the newly-hired coach would make an appearance Saturday night for the men's basketball game against No. 13 Kansas until the hanging video boards "froze over" during pregame introductions and began showing photos and clips of Frost's…

UCF's final games don't tell entire story of new Husker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander

Nebraska’s new defensive coordinator stressed takeaways and sacks in turning around UCF.

North Platte's Bryson Krull is Nebraska's latest preferred walk-on commit

North Platte senior Bryson Krull is a big, physical wide receiver with sure hands, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is the latest in-state player to commit to walking on at Nebraska.

Another honor possible as Scott Frost is named one of seven finalists for the Dodd Trophy

Scott Frost is a candidate for another postseason honor.

Bellevue West lineman AJ Forbes, Millard West running back Brody Belt commit to walk on at Nebraska

Bellevue West lineman AJ Forbes has scholarship offers from virtually every Division II school in the area. On Thursday night Forbes committed to walk-on at Nebraska.

Lincoln Southeast's Bryson Williams will sign with Wisconsin despite late interest from Nebraska

Lincoln Southeast defensive lineman Bryson Williams has decided to shut down his recruitment and will not be taking an official visit to Nebraska this weekend.

Chris Weber becomes Nebraska football's 70th first-team Academic All-American

Chris Weber is Nebraska football's 108th Academic All-American — most of any program in collegiate athletics — and the 70th first-team selection. Nebraska also has a nation-leading 330 Academic All-Americans across all sports.

Recruiting: Decision for do-everything athlete Marcus Riley likely hinges on Nebraska visit this weekend

Marcus Riley has been committed to Louisville since July 2016. Until recently, he was strong in that conviction. Things got interesting when Riley was among the dozen or so offers sent out by Nebraska the day after Scott Frost's hiring…

TBL: QB commit Adrian Martinez confident he can help 'get this thing turned around' at Nebraska

Martinez said that Thursday during an interview on "The Bottom Line," less than 24 hours after he announced his commitment to Nebraska. He added that fans can believe in Scott Frost, and the Huskers will "work our tails off" for…

Scott Frost named 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year recipient

It only took Scott Frost two seasons as a head coach to win one of the biggest honors in college football.

Nebraska keeps walk-on commitments rolling with Chris Cassidy, Jake Archer

Nebraska has added two more preferred walk-on commits. Lincoln Pius X senior Chris Cassidy informed The World-Herald of his commitment Thursday morning, and Omaha Skutt's Jake Archer announced his decision on Twitter.

Carriker Chronicles: Husker QB commit plus NU volleyball picks

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Thursday's episode, Carriker is joined by one of his daughters to give his quick take to the Huskers' landing a QB commit, talk about how players react…

Long before cable TV, Husker fans stared at the side of a building and got 'live' coverage on the Grid-O-Graph – a miracle of modern technology

Imagine a time when you couldn't follow a Husker football game or know its outcome until the next day's newspaper landed on your doorstep. For diehard fans in the 21st century, that would be torture. In the first quarter of…

College sports programs could pay millions in new taxes under GOP proposals

Pending Republican tax proposals could put the squeeze on big-time college sport programs.

Recruiting: Diverse group will be on hand for new Husker coaching staff looking for speed

In less than two weeks on the job, Nebraska’s staff has sent out more than 70 known offers to prospects from the Class of 2018 and beyond. Players big and small. From the West Coast and East Coast. In junior…

Recruiting: Collin Shefke and Wyatt Liewer accept preferred walk-on spots at Husker event

Nebraska’s walk-on event Wednesday landed commitments from Lincoln Southwest’s Collin Shefke and O’Neill’s Wyatt Liewer. Liewer received a preferred walk-on offer Oct. 8. Shefke received his offer Wednesday.

Intrigue in Scott Frost, matchup helped UCF's bowl game become hot ticket for some Husker fans

Nebraska fans travel well. There was the invasion of Notre Dame in 2000. Taking over Northwestern in 2014. Tack on another badge: the constant presence at Central Florida games in 2017.

Recruiting: Husker walk-on event draws large response from in-state prospects

Nebraska sent out invitations and used the hashtag #HomeGrown to bring prospects to its walk-on event on Wednesday night.

Recruiting: Scott Frost’s staff thinking big with receivers for the 2018 recruiting class

Size. Nebraska’s new coaching staff clearly wants it from the receivers and tight ends who may join the Huskers’ 2018 recruiting class.

McKewon: Four quick takes on Adrian Martinez's commitment to Nebraska

Nebraska has landed Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez, who committed to the Huskers on Wednesday. Quick takes on Martinez’s decision and what it means for the Huskers.

Recruiting: Scott Frost, assistants doing double duty with help of red-eye flights

New Nebraska coach Scott Frost will have some story to tell after signing day. Frost has committed to lead Central Florida in its quest to finish an undefeated season and win the Peach Bowl over Auburn. That's one thing. He's…

Recruiting: Nebraska kicker commit Barret Pickering part of new coaching staff's plans

Barret Pickering has been busy. And that won't be changing anytime soon for Nebraska's reaffirmed incoming kicker.

Carriker Chronicles: John Cook on the Huskers' match against Penn State in the final four and more

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker is joined by NU volleyball coach John Cook to preview the Huskers' match against Penn State in the NCAA tournament final four.

Adrian Martinez becomes Scott Frost's first quarterback recruit; Dual-threat QB will enroll early at Nebraska

Adrian Martinez — a consensus four-star prospect who’s a top-100 recruit according to ESPN — is now a Husker, announcing his decision Wednesday to pick Nebraska over Tennessee. He’ll enroll early at NU and try to win the starting job…

Pick Six Podcast: Early days of Scott Frost's Nebraska coaching tenure

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the Dec. 12 episode of the "Pick Six Podcast."

Best of TBL, Dec. 12: Sam McKewon, Adam Carriker, Gibbie Duval and Mike Alessandro

Nebraska football recruiting and strength and conditioning were topics Tuesday on "The Bottom Line," when World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon and former Husker Adam Carriker were among the guests.

Recruiting: Nebraska needs a great pass rusher, and a California junior college may have the answer

Sometimes, football players need a year to grow into their frames after high school. That’s the story of one Nebraska official visitor this weekend, City College of San Francisco pass rusher Jordan Allen.

Carriker Chronicles: Scott Frost, Huskers quickly hitting stride on recruiting trail

All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Tuesday's episode, Carriker talks about a busy Sunday in Nebraska recruiting news and what's next on the agenda.

Recruiting: Iowa Western offensive lineman Noah Banks doesn’t make Nebraska visit as planned

Iowa Western offensive lineman Noah Banks did not visit Nebraska on Tuesday as originally planned and is making other options higher priorities as the junior-college national signing day approaches.