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?

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

Pick Six Podcast: March Madness, Creighton hoops, Big East realignment, Husker spring football, Oscar movies and more

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle top local topics and the hottest headlines from across the country in the latest edition of "The Pick Six Podcast."

Recruiting: Nebraska targeting pass-rushing outside linebackers to fit new 3-4 defense

Nebraska has started recruiting to fit Bob Diaco’s new 3-4 defensive scheme, and finding pass-rushing outside linebackers will be a big focus. The Huskers offered within the last 24 hours at least four prospects that fit the same mold —…

What’s the catch? Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong works at receiver ahead
 of pro day

Tommy Armstrong was always going through the quarterback drills during Nebraska practices, but Keith Williams would notice from time to time just how naturally Armstrong would handle the football or catch it when thrown his way.

Shatel: Winding road with many connections led Mike Riley's confidant Dan Van De Riet to Nebraska

One of the most powerful men in the Nebraska football program never played football at all — well, one year he did suit up — and somehow, he found his way to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he goes to work every…

Kade Warner, son of former NFL QB Kurt Warner, will join Huskers as preferred walk-on

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound son of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner announced his decision to sign with the Huskers late Thursday night on Twitter. He will join NU as a preferred walk-on over identical offers from ASU, UCLA, Iowa,…

Recruiting: Nebraska sets dates for Friday Night Lights camps

The Friday Night Lights events drew top national prospects — and were open to the public — last summer, becoming a hit with recruits and Husker fans alike.

Trent Bray stays put and gets raise, pushing Nebraska assistant salaries near $4 million

Nebraska’s assistant football coaches are set to collectively earn nearly $4 million next season, according to recent updates to their contracts, and every assistant will eventually have a deal that runs through the 2018 season.

Cethan Carter, Nate Gerry will represent Nebraska at NFL combine

Cethan Carter and Nate Gerry were teammates, roommates and good friends through their Nebraska football careers — and now both will head next to the NFL combine.

Recruiting: Nebraska ups pursuit of big-bodied wide receivers with recent offers

Keith Williams has upped his pursuit of a big-bodied receiver in the early days of the 2018 recruiting cycle. He extended three offers this week to receivers that measure 6-3 or taller, and the majority of the 17 wide receivers…

Examining new Husker assistant Bob Elliott's recruiting results over last decade

New Nebraska safeties coach Bob Elliott has recruited a variety of positions in the last decade. Some of those signees have gone on to be key contributors, while others struggled to ever find the field.

New Husker safeties coach Bob Elliott is respected technician who has worked in the territory

Bob Elliott has officially been named Nebraska's new safeties coach. The World-Herald reported last week that the longtime assistant was expected to join the Huskers' staff as Brian Stewart's replacement. Nebraska made the news official Monday when it announced Elliott's…

Shatel: Husker hire Bob Elliott has veteran coaching chops, Midwest football know-how

Elliott has a college coaching career that spans four decades. He’s the caliber of a coach along the lines of Milt Tenopir, Charlie McBride, George Darlington and Ron Brown. In short, he could have coached for Tom Osborne.

From Bob Diaco's influence to emphasis on 500-mile radius, 10 storylines for Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class

Bob Diaco has a vision for the personnel he wants in his 3-4 scheme. That's one of the major storylines for Nebraska as it starts to put together its 2018 recruiting class.

Nebraska hopes to go 2 for 2 with quarterback targets Tanner McKee, Colson Yankoff

Should Nebraska’s dream scenario play out, it would sign Colson Yankoff and Tanner McKee as scholarship quarterbacks in February 2018.

McKewon: 25 recruits to watch for Huskers' 2018 recruiting class

Nebraska’s march toward the 2018 recruiting class has already resulted in three commitments — Cameron Jurgens of Beatrice, Masry Mapieu of York and Eric Fuller of Los Angeles. Who might join them? Here are 25 names to watch.

Former Husker defensive coordinator John Papuchis named North Carolina DC after Gene Chizik steps down

Linebacker coach John Papuchis is being promoted to defensive coordinator. Before joining North Carolina in 2015, Papuchis spent seven seasons as an assistant with Nebraska, including three seasons as defensive coordinator.

Huskers are expected to hire veteran coach Bob Elliott to coach safeties

Nebraska is prepared to bring a veteran hand to a young defensive staff with the addition of Bob Elliott.

Huskers looking to neighboring Missouri to stock next recruiting class

In his signing day press conference, coach Mike Riley made a point of mentioning NU’s need to win more recruiting battles in the 500-mile radius. He then zeroed in on Missouri.

Recruiting: Early scholarship offers can benefit Nebraska's 2018 class like they did in 2017

Nebraska just wrapped up the 2017 recruiting class, but the Huskers are already about to enter an important stretch for the next one.

Soaring Rocket: Freshman McKenna Minter, daughter of former Husker Mike Minter, already among state’s best players

As the daughter of a former Nebraska football star, Lincoln Northeast freshman McKenna Minter already faced high expectations. The 5-foot-8 guard has delivered.

Pick Six Podcast: NU's 3-4 defense, 2017 recruits, Bluejay basketball, Super Bowl 51 and more

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle top local topics and the hottest headlines from across the country in the latest edition of "The Pick Six Podcast."

Recruiting: WR Kade Warner, son of new hall of famer Kurt Warner, went under radar but will visit Nebraska

Kade Warner, who set the Arizona state record for career receptions with 241, will take a visit to Nebraska this weekend. Kade's dad is Kurt Warner, who found out Saturday he was headed to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Crete native Lyle Sittler helped coach Bob Devaney turn Nebraska into a winner

Bob Devaney started the Nebraska football turnaround in 1962, and Lyle Sittler was right there as the Huskers went 28-5 and played in the Gotham, Orange and Cotton bowls during Devaney’s first three seasons.

Notre Dame assistant Bob Elliott to meet with coach Mike Riley about NU's open assistant position

Bob Elliott last month lauded the Nebraska hire of Bob Diaco as defensive coordinator. Elliott now might be among the candidates to join him on the Husker staff.

Paying with 
a chance to play: Defensive line coach John Parrella sees ‘serious potential’ in Central City's Jordan Paup

Jordan Paup once hurdled an offensive lineman to break up an extra-point try. He outruns most high school receivers and can squat upwards of 465 pounds.

In survey, Huskers' 2017 class gets positive marks; Fans expect Tyjon Lindsey, Jaylin Bradley to have impact

A poll of World-Herald readers gave Husker coaches overwhelmingly positive reviews for their work putting together the 2017 recruiting class.

Husker recruiting roundtable: Experts analyze Nebraska's 2017 class

This year’s signing day is over. Let the analysis begin. Here’s a look at how three recruiting experts break down Nebraska’s recruiting class of 2017.

Opportunity knocks for incoming Husker defensive linemen

A year ago, Mike Riley had a mess on his hands. At what might be the most important group on a football team — the defensive line — NU was starting over.

Mike Riley still supports earlier official visits after coaches 'chickened out' on summer signing period

College football coaches have voiced unanimous support for an early signing period in December, but Mike Riley said on signing day that “we chickened out” when it came to implementing one for the summer.

From the archives: Tommie Frazier's surprise signing provided a Big Red boost — and shocked his own mother

On Feb. 4, 1992, a young quarterback from Bradenton, Florida, shocked the nation — and his own mother — when he chose to become a Husker.