Game Day: Nebraska vs. Fresno State

Who will show up?

The week-to-week roller coaster that Bo Pelini’s been strapped into since his arrival at Nebraska hasn’t relented. Call it a split personality. A maddening mind trap where the players are one day embracing the meticulous approach that the coaches have been pleading for — until the next day, when self-confidence has drained them of humility and they’re suddenly neglecting basic fundamentals. Who will show up against Fresno State?

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2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Fresno State rush defense

Nebraska had some clean-up to do with its offensive line play after McNeese State flustered the Huskers and slowed down I-back Ameer Abdullah last week. It freed up the quarterback run game, however, and Tommy Armstrong picked up 131 yards (and probably could have gone for more if asked). Utah picked up 4.8 yards a carry vs. Fresno State last week. Edge: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. Fresno State pass defense

Fresno State has been absolutely destroyed by the pass, allowing a combined 692 yards through two games as USC and Utah completed 63.2 percent of their throws with 10 TDs and no interceptions. Nebraska had some of its own issues last week, and Tommy Armstrong is at just better than 50 percent, but NU might just need to make the easy throws here. Edge: NU

Fresno State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Bulldogs had some success against USC as Marteze Waller ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, but backtracked against Utah when seven sacks cut into their output (55 yards, 40 attempts). NU will have to account for the quarterback run game when Brandon Connette is on the field, and is coming off a game where McNeese State got nearly 4.0 per carry. Edge: NU

Fresno State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Nebraska hasn't had to deal with much sophistication or high-level arms just yet. Fresno State, although trying to find the right quarterback, should provide that challenge after leading the nation in passing last season with Derek Carr. The Bulldogs can challenge a Husker secondary that at times has three new starters on the field, although the return of Randy Gregory should invigorate the NU pass rush. Edge: FSU

Special teams

Part of Nebraska's escape against McNeese State had to do with its second-half success in the punt and punt return games. Sam Foltz is averaging 47.2 yards per punt and the Huskers' net of 44.9 leads the Big Ten. Fresno State is at 36.3 yards with net punting and hasn't done much yet in the return game. Abdullah had a 100-yard kickoff return against FSU three years ago. Edge: NU

Intangibles

Although 0-2 for just the second time in 15 years, Fresno State returns to Bulldog Stadium where it owns a 13-game winning streak. FSU also is 13-0 in night games over the last two seasons, and NU will have to adjust to a kickoff that will be 9:30 p.m. CDT. Bulldogs head coach Tim DeRuyter knows Nebraska, leading the Texas A&M defense in 2010 when it held the Huskers to 306 total yards and forced two turnovers. NU is 2-2 in nonconference road games under Bo Pelini. Edge: FSU

Key matchup: Fresno State WR Josh Harper vs. the NU secondary

Fresno State receiver Josh Harper already has 12 catches through two games, and now 150 for his career. The fifth-year senior will be the biggest challenge to date for Nebraska cornerbacks Josh Mitchell and Daniel Davie, and Davie will be making his first career road start for the Huskers.

Our take

The hardest thing to judge is where the Huskers and Bulldogs are currently, considering the vast difference in the level of opponents they've seen so far. Fresno State just looks too fragile defensively and shaky with its quarterback play to pull the upset. That said, Nebraska is going to have to be better on both sides of the ball after the giant step backward that it took against McNeese State.

Our prediction: Nebraska 42, Fresno State 24

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Extras

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Game notes

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