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.

Nebraska wins if ...

It stays on track offensively and shores up some of its defensive flaws.

Southern Miss wins if ...

Senior QB Allan Bridgford can repeat some of what Brett Smith did to the Huskers.

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

Former Husker Dominic Raiola fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness

NEW YORK — Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for unnecessary roughness for striking an opponent at New England on Sunday.

The play was ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's "Big Ten Roundup" chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht to get his take on news from around the conference.

Also, check out our Big Ten page ...

Big Red Breakfast: Ron Brown says Ameer Abdullah showed character with injury

For all that Ameer Abdullah had done this season — and through his Nebraska football career — Husker assistant coach Ron Brown said Wednesday that some of his truest character actually came ...

Husker center Ryne Reeves experienced despite being first-time starter

LINCOLN — Ryne Reeves didn’t need to take a deep breath or change his focus, because the Nebraska backup center had played plenty of snaps over the previous 10 football ...

Position change, Outland finalist help Nebraska product Drew Ott drive Iowa’s D-line

LINCOLN — The launching point for Drew Ott’s successful junior season goes back to a meeting last winter with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

Ott requested a move on the Hawkeyes ...

From ’Canes to plains, Husker transfer Paul Kelly’s career anything but a snap

LINCOLN — Senior day at Nebraska. A small, notable class runs onto the field before the Minnesota game. Names Husker fans won’t soon — if ever — forget. Ameer Abdullah. Kenny Bell ...

Notes: Status still uncertain for Huskers Kenny Bell, Randy Gregory

LINCOLN — Coach Bo Pelini is still unsure if two key contributors will be healthy enough to suit up for Nebraska’s game Friday against Iowa.

Pelini labeled receiver Kenny Bell ...

Iowa preview: Hawkeyes ‘kind of do what they do’

By the numbers

7-4: Overall record (4-3 in the Big Ten)

5.53: Offensive yards per play (T-67th)

5.11: Defensive yards per play (T-31st)

Minus-3: Turnover margin (T-87th)

29 ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Sam McKewon to track a discussion of all the latest Husker headlines.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

McKewon: Fresh sites can keep bowls from going stale

LINCOLN — I promise I’ll try to make sense of how the Big Ten now plans to select teams for its bowl games. I doubt I’ll do nearly as ...

De'Mornay Pierson-El working overtime to make Huskers better

LINCOLN — While most players on Nebraska’s offense found their place in stretching lines at the start of Tuesday’s practice, freshman De’Mornay Pierson-El stood hip-to-hip with his position ...

Barfknecht: Wisconsin-Minnesota game finally for more than Paul Bunyan's Axe

The last time Wisconsin and Minnesota faced off in a football game with as much meaning as this Saturday’s would have been, um ... well ... a really, really long time ...

Big Ten notes: Michigan State turns to receiver for help at cornerback

Michigan State senior Tony Lippett, a strong candidate for first-team All-Big Ten as a wide receiver, has doubled his workload.

On Saturday, he is set to become MSU’s first ...

Husker notes: Still improving, Randy Gregory faces decision

LINCOLN — The statistics don’t necessarily show it, but coach Bo Pelini said he thinks Randy Gregory has given NFL scouts plenty of worthy game film to salivate over.

It ...

Video: Nebraska Monday press conference

Watch video of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and select Husker players at the team's weekly press conference in advance of this week's Nebraska-Iowa game. Also watch NU volleyball ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Replay the “Lunch with Tom” chat to get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel's thoughts on Nebraska’s loss to Minnesota, the upcoming Iowa game and ...

NU’s Pelini deflects questions on his job status, says focus is on Hawkeyes

LINCOLN — Bo Pelini shut down the question like a cornerback would a wideout.

“Could we talk about Iowa, please?” Nebraska’s coach said early in Monday’s press conference, thwarting ...

Abdullah says good will come from injury

LINCOLN — Ameer Abdullah had done so many special things, and the Nebraska I-back was on his way to doing more.

Seeing that pursuit get derailed, though, has been only a ...

Q&A with Husker lineman Jake Cotton

The senior offensive lineman played his final home game Saturday and now prepares for his final regular-season game Friday at Iowa. It will be the 23rd career start at left ...

Nyatawa: 17 scholarships, little depth on Husker line

LINCOLN — It seems illogical to raise depth concerns about an offensive line unit that accounts for 17 scholarships, but Nebraska’s season-long commitment to a now-slumping starting group suggests there ...

Notes: Pelini uncertain whether Bell will play against Hawkeyes

LINCOLN — Nebraska could be without its record-setting receiver in the season’s final regular season game.

Senior Kenny Bell, the program’s career catches leader, suffered an apparent concussion on ...

Shatel: First Osborne award is a no-brainer

What do you give a man who’s done it all, won it all and been awarded every honor a coach can receive?

His own award.

The first annual Tom ...

Huskers drop out of both college football polls

Nebraska's 28-24 loss to Minnesota Saturday helped knock the team off the AP and Coaches top 25 polls in week 14.

Last week the Huskers sat at No. 21 ...

Barfknecht's Big Ten rankings, Nov. 24

World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 24.

* * *

1. Ohio State (10-1, 7-0)

Last week: beat Indiana 42-27. This ...

Husker QB Armstrong makes positive strides

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s starting quarterback heard the same message from almost everyone last week as he worked to rebound from back-to-back poor performances.

Coach Bo Pelini pulled him aside. Offensive ...

McKewon: NU will prove Griese right 
if it can’t stop power game

LINCOLN — Watching the game again. In the final seconds of Nebraska’s 28-24 loss to Minnesota, ESPN analyst and former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese said the following about a Friday ...

Barfknecht: Is Husker sellout streak the next cornerstone to tumble?

The best news about Nebraska football after the weekend is there are no more home games.

Imagine if the Huskers hosted Penn State this weekend, and the tired Nittany Lions ...

Quarter by quarter: Minnesota 28, Nebraska 24

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa recap the key plays in each quarter of Nebraska's loss to Minnesota.

* * *

First quarter

Mitch Leidner: Minnesota starts the game with ...

Nebraska-Minnesota: Five things we learned, don't know

Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know coming out of Saturday's Nebraska-Minnesota football game.

* * *

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED

1. Nebraska’s inability to deliver ...

‘No loss is easy to take, especially in this state’

LINCOLN — Inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, fans dressed in maroon and gold were mingling about, taking pictures and celebrating a big road win. Life was good.

Outside, many of ...