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


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




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. and

Big Red Today coverage

Focused on NFL combine, Maliek Collins has bittersweet feelings over leaving Nebraska early

Maliek Collins is training in Phoenix and headed soon for Indianapolis, but one piece of business remains at Nebraska for the former Husker defensive tackle.

NU’s new director of high school relations Kenny Wilhite saw the value of walk-ons when he played

Kenny Wilhite has been Nebraska’s director of high school relations for less than a week, but it’s clear how much enthusiasm he has for a job he wanted since coach Mike Riley created it last spring.

A Husker game plan for when a soldier returns home

Jake Schoenhofer wears the American flag tucked closest to his heart on every mission. A Husker flag has his back. “Those won’t leave my body armor until I leave here,’’ he said this week from Afghanistan, where the Army specialist is a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief. “The American one is kind of obvious.

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's “Husker Talk Live” chat with staff writer Rich Kaipust to track a discussion of the latest Nebraska athletics headlines.

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Replay Monday's “Lunch with Tom” chat to get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel’s take on the latest sports headlines.

Shatel: Bigger league helps Bluejays land four-stars; Hughes departure signals Huskers' urgency

Can Creighton recruit with the big boys? Looks like the answer would be yes. Mitchell Ballock, a four-star, confident-shooting kid from Kansas, committed to wear Creighton blue on Sunday.

McKewon: With recruiting returns in, Husker coach Riley has a sense of urgency for 2017

Mike Riley isn’t just happy to be here. Not anymore. For a moment, perhaps, that was the case, the whirlwind of leaving an old home and embracing a new one. Not now. Not after Riley’s confident and edgy — well, edgy for him — posture at his signing day press conference.

Hunting for the next NU recruiting class: 25 prospects for 2017

The hunt for the next Nebraska recruiting class has already begun. Here are some in-state and out-of-state names to watch. The Huskers haven’t yet offered any 2017 prospects in the state of Nebraska.

Nebraska football recruiting roundtable

Nebraska wrapped up the 2016 recruiting class on Wednesday. How did the class turn out? The World-Herald asked three Husker recruiting experts for their opinions on the class.

Husker assistant Hank Hughes won't return in 2016; Mike Riley targets 'great coach, teacher and recruiter'

Defensive line coach Hank Hughes will not return to the Nebraska football team next season, the university announced Friday.

Nebraska works to accomplish more in second winter with staff

A year ago, Mark Philipp was no different than the Nebraska coaching staff that Mike Riley had just assembled after taking over the Husker football program. Philipp was settling into a new office in the Osborne Complex weight room, just starting to learn names and personalities and introducing a different strength and conditioning program and methods of teaching to 100-plus players.

Chatelain: Mike Riley must make the key connections as Nebraska's talent evaluator

Depending on which side of the pillow I wake up, I wonder whether Nebraska can ever be Nebraska again. On optimistic days, I almost scoff at the question. “C’mon, why can’t they?” On pessimistic days, I watch the evidence stack up in my head like Tetris pieces.

After recruiting class ranked 24th nationally by one service, Riley says NU pushes on to 2017

Nebraska fans came to the Big Red Bash on Thursday night to hear Mike Riley talk about the 2016 recruiting class, and the head coach repeated plenty of what he had said Wednesday about the Huskers’ 21 signees.

Sam McKewon's Big Ten recruiting rankings

Rankings by Sam McKewon, text compiled from the Associated Press.

Transcript: Nebraska coach Mike Riley discusses 2016 recruiting class and more

Nebraska coach Mike Riley addressed the media on Wednesday to discuss the 2016 recruiting class for the first time.

Aurora receiver buys in to Nebraska’s walk-on process

Todd Honas relished the entire experience when he visited Nebraska with a mix of committed and prospective walk-ons last Saturday, but one thing might have stood out above the rest.

Huskers may play Greg McMullen at defensive end or tackle — and maybe at both

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said addressing the departures of defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine will be a high priority as the Huskers transition from recruiting to spring practice preparations.

Husker notes: Riley pleased to add Tulane transfer QB

Tanner Lee’s name wasn’t on the Nebraska list of signees Wednesday, but head coach Mike Riley seemed just as happy to add the quarterback transfer from Tulane.

Recruiting notes: Nebraska’s long-term linemen; Engelhaupt had been on radar

Offensive linemen John Raridon and Bryan Brokop committed in late September 2014, meaning they stayed with the Huskers despite changes at both head coach (Bo Pelini to Mike Riley) and their position coach (John Garrison to Mike Cavanaugh).

Mike Riley pledges earlier recruiting start, better readiness next year for Huskers

Mike Riley wasn’t sick on signing day this time. Actually, he carried himself like a guy ready for another go. The second-year Nebraska coach spoke highly of his 2016 recruiting class, a 21-member group announced Wednesday.

McKewon: Husker commits offer an upgrade 
to pass coverage potential

Out of the 100 storylines we peddle each signing day, I advise you to lock in a statistical weakness from the previous season and see how your team addressed it in its recruiting class. NU’s big disaster for much of 2015 — a 6-7 season — was pass defense.

Shatel: After often-gloomy fall, Husker coach Mike Riley sold a vision

National signing day is a national holiday, a national hope holiday. Nobody has a bad signing day. Everybody has a good recruiting class. Hope is where you find it. Even after a 6-7 season. You want hope? Here it is, Husker fans.

Territorial gains: Husker coach Mike Riley believes in ruling 500-mile recruiting radius, but it’s growing difficult

How’d coach Mike Riley do in Nebraska’s recruiting home — the 500-mile radius? The Huskers had some hits and whiffs. Nine players of a 21-player class. Just about half. It could have been more. Some prospects in the radius were naturally not as high-priority as others. Still, others were big targets, and NU missed.

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live” chat with staff writer Sam McKewon to track a discussion on the latest Nebraska athletics headlines.

Omaha Westside’s Jordan twins will join brother at Nebraska

Grant and Spencer Jordan have tried to emulate their older brother on the football field. Now the Jordan twins are following their brother to Nebraska.

California cornerback picks Huskers, softens blow of 2 late losses

Nebraska’s 2016 recruiting class added a key player Tuesday. Lamar Jackson, a highly touted defensive back from California, announced in an online video that he’d sign with the Huskers on Wednesday, ending what had been an extensive pursuit by the NU staff.

Late Husker offer makes the day of Norfolk Catholic tight end

The signing day surprise for Nebraska’s 2016 recruiting class turned out to be a Norfolk Catholic three-sport star who has been going to Husker games all his life and never thought that dream offer would come his way.

Nebraska assistants Trent Bray, Keith Williams get contract extensions, big raises

Two of Nebraska's best-considered position coaches and recruiters, linebackers coach Trent Bray and wide receivers coach Keith Williams, each received contract extensions until 2018 and major pay raises from Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst.

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Replay Monday's “Lunch with Tom” chat to get World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel’s take on the latest sports headlines.

Shatel: Over-signing method too often overdone in football recruiting

To be sure, over-signing is an unseemly aspect of college sports. But recruits also have the right to run a misdirection play at the last minute, correct? What needs to be eliminated is the fallacy of the commitment.