Game Day: Nebraska vs. UCLA

Positive spin

When seven AP Top 25 voters got down to the final spots on their ballots last Saturday night, they made the determination that Nebraska wasn't good enough to make the cut. NU's players chose not to touch anything this week that had to do with ratings or respect or national perception. "We'll start getting the national attention when we start winning championships," senior offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles said. "So that's the ultimate goal." With UCLA in town Saturday, the Huskers have high hopes that a win will be a big step toward that objective.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. UCLA rush defense

Only a dozen teams allowed more runs of 30 yards or more last year than the Bruins, who gave up 12. Nebraska averaged 7.2 yards per carry in a 36-30 loss to UCLA last season, but the Huskers ran the ball only 36 times, their lowest total all year. Nebraska's mix of option and power should be enough to counteract the varying alignments from UCLA. Advantage: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. UCLA pass defense

Assuming NU's running game gets going, the receivers should have room to roam against a young secondary. In UCLA's five losses last year (when teams established the run), the Bruins gave up a 73.2 completion percentage, 9.6 yards per pass play and 10 TDs (two interceptions). The key for Taylor Martinez is to throw when UCLA is thinking run first. Advantage: NU

UCLA rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Of the 12 Huskers expected to rotate at linebacker and on the defensive line, only Jason Ankrah and Thad Randle have extensive experience. And the Huskers are still trying to perfect a system that gave up more yards per carry last year (4.76) than ever before under Bo Pelini. The Bruins' sideline-to-sideline approach tends to create vulnerabilities. Advantage: UCLA

UCLA pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

NU's veterans are in its secondary, but the Huskers have already given up 29 pass plays of 10-plus yards this year (third-worst nationally). QB Brett Hundley was 21 of 33 for 305 yards and four touchdowns against NU last year. Three of the TDs went to guys now in the NFL (Joseph Fauria and Johnathan Franklin), but the Bruins have restocked well. Advantage: UCLA

Special teams

NU has made it a point to redesign many of its units -- most notably on kickoff return, where the Huskers rank sixth nationally behind Kenny Bell. But UCLA has blocked nine kicks under Jim Mora. And the Bruins controlled field position last year vs. NU, when the Huskers' drives started at the 20.5-yard line on average. UCLA began its possessions at the 36.4. Advantage: UCLA

Intangibles

The Huskers are working in new players on defense, but UCLA is young all over. UCLA was only plus-11 in total point differential in seven games away from the Rose Bowl -- but plus-85 in the seven contests at home. Nebraska has won 10 straight at home. Also note the kickoff time: 11 a.m. That's 9 a.m. in L.A. Advantage: NU

Key matchup: UCLA's offense vs. Nebraska's linebackers

Josh Banderas, No. 52, Zaire Anderson, Nate Gerry, No. 25, and Michael Rose had better be ready. They'll be trying to corral UCLA QB Brett Hundley on scrambles and designed runs, attempting to help on the zone read or doing their best to cover running backs in the flats and receivers across the middle. UCLA will most certainly isolate NU's inexperienced linebackers in space. Are they up for the challenge?

Nebraska wins if ...

It's able to establish the ground game, avoid turnovers and keep Brett Hundley from getting comfortable.

UCLA wins if ...

It has a couple of spectacular plays to suck the energy out of the home crowd and forces Nebraska into passing situations.

Our take

How have UCLA players and coaches prepared for the game while coping with the death of WR Nick Pasquale? Sports can help us heal. But how ready are the Bruins to play? They'll be riding emotions, but can they match NU's focus? The Huskers need this game, for perception, for confidence, for momentum, for pride.

Our prediction: Nebraska 42, UCLA 38

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

BRT Podcast

In this week's edition of "The Big Red Today Podcast," Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon break down the UCLA-Nebraska game before offering their predictions for the weekend's biggest matchups. 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

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-UCLA game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Shatel: Bullies from the Big 12 now singing a different tune about the Big Ten

You see it on their faces, as Nebraska football players leave the practice field and head to the whirlpool portion of their day.

Ouch.

You hear it in the bars ...

Barfknecht: Hot seat is awfully warm for a handful of coaches

Name tags will be required at next summer’s Big Ten football media days if all the head coaches supposedly under threat of firing actually are let go.

Could there ...

Lost in the maze: NU and Iowa meet again without title implications

LINCOLN — The game will end and the initial scene won’t surprise, as one team likely sprints toward a trophy and the other exits bowed and dejected.

But the thing ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...