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

Renegotiated marketing contract means $21 million more for NU athletic department

Nebraska’s athletic department will make $21 million more on its multimedia rights over the next six years under a renegotiated contract.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents will ...

Barfknecht: Not many games, but Miami-Nebraska has had enough ups and downs for a book

Miami and Nebraska have a complicated relationship when it comes to football.

The highs and lows they have handed each other are about as high and low as you can ...

Small at first, Barron Miles a big part of Nebraska's ’94 title

LINCOLN — One of the key cogs in Nebraska’s 1994 national title machine didn’t initially want his teammates to see him lift weights.

Cornerback Barron Miles, 5-foot-9 and 145 ...

Notes: Knee injury sidelines Burtch for season

LINCOLN — Just when it appeared that Nebraska junior Sam Burtch was ready to return to the lineup, the reserve receiver suffered an injury that will end his season.

Coach Bo ...

McKewon: Blowout win showcases North’s O-line, including Husker recruit Decker

When you have a big, physical offensive line — at any level of football — there comes a point where you put away the fancy and try on the fierce.

Late in ...

The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

Replay Wednesday's “Big Ten Roundup” chat with World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht to track the discussion of the latest conference headlines.

Live Blog The Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Noon

Husker notes: Vincent Valentine looks for sack total to grow against Hurricanes

LINCOLN — It was a relentless effort that led to Nebraska’s four sacks in Saturday’s 55-19 win over Fresno State, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine said.

Now, he said, the ...

Miami notes: 1984 Orange Bowl a fond memory for assistant coach Ark Kehoe

LINCOLN — The Miami assistant coach who’s been on the Hurricanes’ staff for all five of the program’s national championships says the 1984 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska remains ...

Who’s No. 13? Husker walk-on Lane Hovey getting recognized at receiver

LINCOLN — The Lane Hovey do-it-yourself story began long before the receiver ever started climbing the Nebraska football depth chart or got the call Saturday night to help the Huskers at ...

Shatel: History with Miami helped shape Huskers' future

Four days until Miami. And I’m looking for a hat.

This is not just any lid. It’s a white felt baseball hat, snow white, with an orange and ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's “Husker Talk Live” chat with World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon to track the discussion of the latest Husker headlines.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Husker notes: Newcomer Joe Keels says things finally starting to click

LINCOLN — Nebraska defensive end Joe Keels admits that his learning curve over the last nine months has been steep.

A 6-foot-3, 250-pound four-star signee from Highland (Kansas) Community College, Keels ...

Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Miami’s Duke Johnson focus 
on beating defenses, not each other

LINCOLN — So many of their handoffs start the same, with a convoy of defenders converging on them, stuffing seemingly every conceivable escape route.

But just when the swarming tacklers seem ...

Big Ten notes: Wisconsin coach sees progress from QB Joel Stave

Joel Stave, Wisconsin’s starting quarterback in 2013, still hasn’t taken a snap this season after developing a mental block passing the ball. That condition, similar to the yips ...

Barfknecht: Hawkeyes' offensive problems start with the play-caller

Iowa football coaches, players and fans seem puzzled by the struggles through three games to move the ball, particularly on the ground.

The Hawkeyes have eight returning offensive starters. Among ...

Highlights: Bo Pelini, Huskers press conference

Watch Monday's press conference with Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook, football coach Bo Pelini and Husker football players.

Bo Pelini

Volleyball coach John Cook

Ameer Abdullah

Tommy Armstrong

Corey ...

Lunch with Tom: Replay

Hungry for some sports chat? Replay Monday's “Lunch with Tom’’ featuring columnist Tom Shatel.

Live Blog Lunch with Tom: 10 a.m.

Q&A with Husker quarterback Ryker Fyfe

The backup quarterback notched his first career touchdown pass at Fresno State, connecting with Christian Bailey on a 10-yard throw in the fourth quarter. The sophomore from Grand Island has ...

Nyatawa: Extra attention to special teams paying off

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s dramatic improvement in the punt return game goes well beyond the elusive and instinctive freshman fielding the football.

That is an observation not meant to discount the ...

Nebraska secondary rushes to 
pass challenge

LINCOLN — The passes kept coming Saturday night, and Josh Mitchell and Daniel Davie kept working.

Neither cared for it to stop, either.

The Nebraska starting cornerbacks spend an awful lot ...

Notes: Huskers catching up on sleep since end of Fresno State victory

In the moments after a 55-19 win over Fresno State, Nebraska players planned for an all-night chat fest on the charter flight home from Lincoln. Forget the consequences!

Yeah, that ...

Husker QB Tommy Armstrong is a runner on the rise

LINCOLN — It’s not until you stand next to Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong that you get a sense of his bulk — and thus the challenge of trying to tackle him ...

Shatel: Huskers charge up neat promotion for Ameer Abdullah

OK class, it’s Nebraska-Miami (Florida) history week, so here’s a question: This is Miami’s fourth trip to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. What year was the first, who ...

Huskers return to AP Top 25

Nebraska has made it back into the Associated Press Top 25 poll after being knocked out last week.

The Huskers came in at No. 24 in the AP poll this ...

Huskers roll past Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. — In the unyielding heat of the night, a sweat-drenched, sellout crowd fanned themselves with game programs, wrappers, hats and anything else they could find discarded in the rows ...

Barfknecht: Players try to blot out Big Ten’s mediocrity

FORT WORTH, Texas — In 2016, the Big Ten will increase the number of conference games for each school from eight to nine.

Some coaches and athletic directors already have suggested ...

Barfknecht's Big Ten rankings, Sept. 15

World-Herald Big Ten beat writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the conference after the third week of college football action.

* * *

1. Michigan State (1-1)

Last week: Idle. This week: Eastern Michigan, 11 ...

McKewon: Huskers must flush Fresno, keep focus on Miami

IN THE AIR OVER DEATH VALLEY, Calif. — We’re at 32,000 feet, a 22-month-old is howling in the cabin like Bo Pelini’s cat before a scratch fight, the ...

Husker Talk Live: Game Day replay

Log on at 8 p.m. for the Husker game day chat to track live updates before and throughout Nebraska's 9:30 p.m. showdown with Fresno State.

Want ...

Huskers set to see smaller crowd in Fresno

The limitations of Bulldog Stadium will result in Nebraska playing in front of one of the smaller crowds on Saturday night that it has seen in the last 15 years ...