Game Day: Nebraska vs. Wyoming

Home improvement

Now the fun begins. Tonight, head-bobbing Huskers will emerge from their locker room to run the red carpet past adoring fans reaching for high-fives, as the rest of the stadium pulsates to the Tunnel Walk pump-up song. The 2013 Nebraska football team will be unveiled in style against Wyoming, under the lights, on national television. But this time things are a little different. Even more work than usual has been done to get to this point.

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Wyoming rush defense

The Cowboys are shifting to a 3-4 set that has the flexibility to look like a 4-3. They have two experienced ends, Eddie Yarbrough and Patrick Mertens, to anchor the line. But Wyoming is young in the middle of the line and has few proven linebackers. NU’s Terrell Newby had a strong preseason and is the fastest of the backs.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Wyoming pass defense

NU will put its most ballyhooed WR trio — Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner — back on the field. Taylor Martinez has further refined his throwing motion. There are whispers that freshman TE Cethan Carter could be one of the big surprises. Wyoming’s secondary is the strength of the team, but the pass rush was toothless last year.

Wyoming rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Cowboys return their top seven rushers, but none of them ran for more than 374 yards last year. The best of the bunch is D.J. May, who has the ability to break a big run. Wyoming uses the run to keep defenses honest, not to win. NU is revamping its D-line, which will use eight to 10 players on Saturday.

Wyoming pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Wyoming’s strength is the relative efficiency of QB Brett Smith and a group of quick, sure-handed WRs led by Robert Herron. The Cowboys will target inexperienced dime backers and new starting safeties Corey Cooper, Andrew Green and Harvey Jackson. The Cowboys will make some plays, but Smith takes few chances throwing into traffic.

Special teams

Both squads are breaking in a new punter. Nebraska seems excited about redshirt freshman Sam Foltz’s ability to flip the field. NU coaches still haven’t said whether Mauro Bondi or Pat Smith will kick. Stuart Williams will handle kicking and punting for Wyoming. New NU returners Bell and Newby (kickoffs) and Turner (punts) could provide a spark.

Intangibles

Nebraska is opening its new East Stadium addition and will welcome the largest crowd in school history. Wyoming has to play another tough, season-opening road game in high heat. Texas beat the Cowboys 37-17 in similar conditions last year. But UT didn’t have NU’s offense or no-huddle tempo. Wyoming was plus-7 in turnover margin last year.

Key matchup:

Nebraska has its biggest, most athletic, cohesive and experienced offensive line of the Bo Pelini era. Chances are good that four seniors and a fourth-year junior take the field for the opening snap. The Cowboys gave up 232 rushing yards per game in 2012 — and that was with a more experienced set of linebackers. Wyoming has to hold up in the heat against NU’s no-huddle attack, with a unit ill-equipped to do so. It’s quite a challenge.

Nebraska wins if ...

The offense gets rolling like it should, and the defense forces four or five punts.

Wyoming wins if ...

It forces five turnovers and finds a way to string consecutive touchdown drives together.

Our take

The Huskers have won 27 straight season openers, the nation’s longest streak. The offense is champing at the bit to put another defense in submission, and NU’s coaches are surprisingly confident in the defense. Wyoming plays with a nice discipline on offense, but its defense doesn’t have the horses to ride against the Huskers’ guns.

Our prediction: Nebraska 52, Wyoming 21

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

BRT Podcast

In the latest episode of “The Big Red Today Podcast,” Jon Nyatawa and Rich Kaipust break down NU’s football season opener against Wyoming. 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

By tweet or tweak, ‘Gundy’ seeks ways to set Huskers apart

LINCOLN — In the midst of a long, lively chat with Nebraska football reporters, Ryan Gunderson, NU’s new director of player personnel, sits up and looks at his phone.

“I ...

Video: Q&A with new Husker recruit Willie Sykes

New Husker football commit Willie Sykes, a defensive back out of Spring, Texas, joined "The Bottom Line" on Wednesday to discuss joining Nebraska’s recruiting class. Here's a transcript ...

Q&A: Former Husker RB Ameer Abdullah reflects on his time at Nebraska

Former Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah joined “The Bottom Line” on Tuesday with host Mike’l Severe and guest co-host Joe Ganz. Here's a transcript from some of the ...

Husker commit was leaning Michigan until 'they basically tried to call me stupid'

Nebraska has survived almost two months of uncertainty with DaiShon Neal, getting a reassurance Tuesday that the Omaha Central defensive end would sign with the Huskers next week.

Neal will ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live" chat with World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon to get his take on the latest Husker headlines, including recruiting and more.

Live Blog Husker Talk ...

Huskers add defensive back Willie Sykes to recruiting class

LINCOLN — There’s a fourth member of Nebraska’s promising group of 2015 defensive back recruits. Willie Sykes made it official on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound cornerback from ...

Central star Neal to reveal choice as Michigan makes push

After considering all of the new pitches, promises and offers, Omaha Central’s star defensive end is ready to end the recruiting process.

DaiShon Neal, a 6-foot-7, 240-pound prospect, wrote ...

Visit yields no new Husker commits but fortifies Davis twins' pledge

LINCOLN — No new commits immediately came out of the biggest recruiting weekend of new Nebraska coach Mike Riley’s tenure, but the event hit a crucial mark in impressing two ...

Ameer Abdullah named MVP as North wins Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah wanted to leave an impression on more than just the NFL watchers at the Senior Bowl.

Abdullah rushed for 73 yards and added ...

Husker commit Christian Gaylord had a change of coaches, not a change of heart

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. — Christian Gaylord was in church the morning Bo Pelini was fired at Nebraska. By the time he left, Texas, Missouri and Louisville had already called.

Texas Tech ...

Longtime Husker assistant Ron Brown lands at Youngstown State with Bo Pelini

LINCOLN — Ron Brown said nothing was off limits recently when he realized that he wouldn’t be retained on the Nebraska coaching staff and he had to ponder his future ...

Concerns over height don’t worry Abdullah

LINCOLN — The measurables didn’t lie as players were checked in at the Senior Bowl, and Ameer Abdullah was tagged with an official height that will be a source of ...

Visit will let targets build rapport with entire Husker staff

LINCOLN — As Nebraska football’s new coaching staff prepares for its biggest recruiting weekend of its still-young tenure, the goal is clear: The Huskers want players who committed during the ...

McKewon: A refreshing view on recruiting for Nebraska

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s new coaching staff may not recruit any more elite prospects than the old one did.

For one thing, the old bunch wasn’t exactly bad at it ...

Huskers announce new receivers coach, officially completing 9-person coaching staff

LINCOLN — Nebraska announced Wednesday the hiring of new wide receivers coach Keith Williams, completing head coach Mike Riley’s staff.

The Huskers’ finalized defensive staff consists of coordinator Mark Banker ...

The Big Ten Roundup with Lee Barfknecht: Replay

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

Also, check out our Big ...

NU’s recruiting aim: Protect its turf, invade everything nearby

LINCOLN — Nebraska’s top two internal recruiting strategists don’t want to see Husker players practicing and preparing week after week for opposing stars with ties to this region.

“You ...

Husker Talk Live: Replay

Replay Tuesday's "Husker Talk Live" chat with staff writer Rich Kaipust to track the latest Nebraska football headlines and more.

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Noon

Live Blog Husker ...

Huskers' hire of Tulane assistant a big hit with prized recruit

LINCOLN — The man poised to round out Mike Riley’s Nebraska coaching staff has an affinity for one-liners.

Or, at least, Keith Williams had one at Tulane, where he coached ...

Come fall, Husker scholarships will cover players’ personal expenses

Beginning this fall, football players, basketball players and some other athletes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are slated to receive an estimated $3,600 allowance for personal expenses — the result ...

McKewon: Ex-Husker’s son solid on Ohio State pledge

Whatever effort three top programs — Nebraska, Oklahoma and Michigan — made to try to make Athens (Ohio) quarterback Joe Burrow waver from his commitment to Ohio State, they appear to have ...

Banker's plan: Keep Husker defense simple and fast

LINCOLN — Fast is furious. Fast is player-friendly.

When Mark Banker’s defense was really humming at Oregon State, he says, his players didn’t think too much — but they ran ...

Ex-Husker Anderson, UNK’s Manhart set for Collegiate Bowl

Former Nebraska linebacker Zaire Anderson is set to play Saturday in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Los Angeles.

The game will kick off at 3 p.m. CST on ESPN2 ...

New Husker assistant Read makes kicking teams feel special

LINCOLN — Mike Riley understands that his philosophy about coaching special teams isn’t the norm in college football. But then, he says, Bruce Read makes you think about things a ...

New Huskers assistants to be paid more than Pelini's staff

LINCOLN — Nebraska is still one assistant short of a full coaching staff, but the group’s total salary already exceeds the pool allotted for the previous regime.

The Huskers are ...

No rest for Cooper as he eyes an NFL future

LINCOLN — Corey Cooper went from San Diego to Dallas to St. Petersburg in the last three weeks, basically forfeiting any time off after Nebraska finished its football season in the ...

Carl Pelini says he inquired about coaching job at Bellevue East

Carl Pelini said Thursday that Bellevue East was one of the three high school football jobs he was interested in pursuing, but the school’s athletic director said he couldn ...

Father/coach tops on Bray’s list of mentors

LINCOLN — When measuring the depth of Trent Bray’s football knowledge and experience, don’t let the number 32 deceive you.

Nebraska’s new linebacker coach is a young man ...

Notes: Riley says decision coming soon on WRs coach

Nebraska’s Mike Riley is still looking for a wide receiver coach, but he said Thursday he conducted four interviews this week and plans to announce a decision soon.

Riley ...

New Husker coach Mike Riley says recruiting goal is to 'own this state'

As the NCAA recruiting dead period lifted Thursday and Nebraska staffers spread out around the country, Husker head coach Mike Riley made the short but important drive up Interstate 80 ...