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

Huskers' first-year punter has work to do, but strong leg wins Caleb Lightbourn starting job

It’s still hard for Nebraska special teams coordinator Bruce Read to watch practice without Sam Foltz ripping punts into the summer sky. Foltz, who died earlier this summer in a car crash, was so good at his craft, Read said,…

For one game, Big Red to go all-white as Nebraska's 2016 alternate uniforms are revealed

Redshirt freshman DaiShon Neal was walking off the practice field after Tuesday’s workout when he noticed the mannequin showing off Nebraska’s new alternate uniform in the Hawks Center lobby.

Notes: Spielman making case for playing time; Emergency call to Darlington; 2-minute offense needs work and more

Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said several true freshmen remain candidates to play this season, but those evaluations likely will continue through this week.

TBL: Husker recruiting report with Nate Clouse, talking latest prospects and more

Husker Online's Nate Clouse joined host Mike'l Severe on "The Bottom Line" on Monday for a Nebraska recruiting update. Topics discussed include Tyjon Lindsey's commitment to Ohio State over Nebraska, Fresno State becoming a huge weekend for recruiting visits and…

Barfknecht: To go beyond, Mitch Leidner, Minnesota have to help each other

The Big Ten’s drought of not having a quarterback picked in the NFL draft’s first round has grown to an almost-unfathomable 21 years. Now, one ESPN analyst wants us to believe that Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner — who has never completed…

Shatel: Look at ’Canes, Ducks; No guarantee Sooners will be special when series with NU resumes

I’m not saying there is a Nebraska jinx. But there is something crazy going on with NU’s schedule. It’s a little weird.

Husker athletic department says season-ticket costs go toward student-athlete experiences

Nebraska introduced the Student-Athlete Experience Fund as the sole recipient of all donations tied to football season tickets, starting with the 2016 renewal process and sales to new buyers. NU sent a letter detailing that information for boosters and ticket…

Senior Kevin Maurice has sense of urgency, wants younger Husker D-line players to share it

This is it for the senior from Orlando, Florida — there’s no time to waste and he needs a bunch of underclassmen around him to share that same kind of urgency. “It’s all about leaving this place better than you…

Shatel: Mike Riley, John Parrella unfazed by Gerry DiNardo’s lukewarm assessment

“With social media and the media now, the way it is now, everyone’s got an opinion,” John Parrella said. “There’s so much information, but so little wisdom."

Huskers' Davis twins could be big part of D-line, if they can master the small things

Nebraska this season needs the brothers to be as productive as they are precocious.

McKewon: Husker defense shows progress; offense looks about same

Nebraska’s offense hasn’t looked quite as good in August scrimmages as it did last season. Receivers aren’t running free. Backs aren’t galloping into the secondary. Chalk that up, to some degree, to an improvement in Nebraska’s defense.

Patience pays off for former Husker walk-ons awarded scholarships

Nebraska coach Mike Riley announced Saturday that linebacker Brad Simpson, fullback Graham Nabity and defensive tackle Logan Rath all would start the fall semester on scholarship.

Husker notes: Riley says offense sloppy in two-minute drill work

Nebraska coach Mike Riley wasn’t pleased with the work of the top two offenses in a two-minute drill situation at the outset of Saturday’s scrimmage.

Huskers looking for options at left guard after Jerald Foster lost for season with torn knee ligament

Nebraska is looking for a new full-time starter at left guard after head coach Mike Riley said Friday that Jerald Foster is out for the season.

Notes: Patrick O’Brien now Huskers' No. 3 QB, redshirt unclear; freshmen defenders on rise

LINCOLN — Coach Mike Riley said Friday that he didn’t want quarterback AJ Bush to transfer to Iowa Western, but he understood the decision.

Iowa Western coach likes Husker transfer quarterback AJ Bush’s attitude, athleticism

Former Nebraska quarterback AJ Bush became a Reiver on Thursday. On Friday, he was in uniform as Iowa Western traveled to Independence (Kansas) for its first preseason scrimmage of the season.

Nebraska football suspends Keith Williams four games; 'I am disappointed in myself,' Williams says

Nebraska announced Friday morning a four-game suspension for NU wideouts coach Keith Williams following his third-offense DUI arrest on Sunday. He also is suspended from work entirely, without pay, until Aug. 31.

Going head-to-head in 2017? Transfer quarterback Tanner Lee to run scout team; Huskers content to let Patrick O’Brien continue to develop

Recruiting hype doesn’t draw up a depth chart. Nebraska freshman quarterback Patrick O’Brien is proof. So is Tanner Lee, a transfer who can’t play a down for NU this season but has turned a few heads with his strong arm…

Husker quarterback AJ Bush announces plans to transfer

Nebraska quarterback AJ Bush is transferring from Nebraska, according to a message he sent on Twitter.

Recruiting: Top Nebraska WR target Tyjon Lindsey heading back to Las Vegas — to play with OSU QB commit

Husker recruit Tyjon Lindsey is expected to return to Bishop Gorman High School, where he'll team up with Ohio State quarterback commit Tate Martell.

Shatel: At home or at stadium, Mike Riley handles fatherly duties

There’s “Playing Ohio State” pressure. And then there’s “Father of the Bride” pressure. Neither should be taken lightly. Mike Riley survived the latter this summer.

Husker notes: Hardie Buck a 'fiery' replacement for Keith Williams; Battles rage to return kicks, punt

The Husker wideouts are moving forward without their position coach. Mike Riley gives an update on the battles at punter and kickoff returner.

After redshirt season, Eric Lee wins praise in bid for snaps in Husker secondary

The only thing Eric Lee can do is keep working. The redshirt freshman isn’t as well-known right now as Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones, the juniors projected to be the Nebraska starting cornerbacks this season.

Barfknecht: New Gophers coach doesn't shy away from shaking things up

If Minnesota football built anything under coach Jerry Kill, it was continuity. Kill started last season with eight assistants who had coached with him at various stops for an average of 15 years each.

Q&A with Nebraska’s Luke McNitt

Junior Luke McNitt, competing for playing time at H-back and fullback, could have a key role within the offense this year. He’s a former tight end, so his agility and mobility make him an intriguing option within the backfield.

Battles on practice field provide extra benefits for Huskers' Nick Gates and Freedom Akinmoladun

Nebraska’s top left tackle and its promising defensive end stood side by side after a practice last week, smiling and gesturing as they discussed what tactics each used to gain an edge during the previous two hours.

TBL: Husker recruiting report with Nate Clouse, talking latest prospects and more

Husker Online's Nate Clouse joined host Mike'l Severe on "The Bottom Line" on Monday for a Nebraska recruiting update. Topics discussed include Keith Williams' suspected DUI and the impact it could have on recruiting, how transportation would work if he's…

Keyshawn Johnson Jr.'s commitment to Nebraska not wavering in wake of Keith Williams' arrest

Wide receiver recruit Keyshawn Johnson Jr. reassured fans Monday that he won't be dropping his commitment to the Huskers in the wake of Keith Williams' arrest.

Keith Williams posts bond after pleading not guilty to misdemeanor charges; Mike Riley considering consequences

Keith Williams pleaded not guilty to charges of DUI and careless driving on Monday. Meanwhile, Mike Riley said that he and his staff had made no final decisions on a punishment for the NU wide receivers coach.

Husker notes: Freshman I-back Tre Bryant impresses, making redshirt decision difficult

The Nebraska freshman making the most waves in training camp still may redshirt this season. But I-back Tre Bryant is making it hard for coaches to keep him off the field after turning heads in Saturday’s scrimmage with two touchdown…