Game Day: Nebraska vs. Miami

Stage fright or fight?

In an otherwise sleepy Husker home schedule, here is the gem of the slate, with a side dish of history, national attention and recruits in town. How will the Huskers fare in the bright lights against Miami?


2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Miami rush defense

The Hurricanes are giving up just 2.02 yards per carry (fourth-best nationally). Partly why that figure is so low: They've allowed just six runs of 10 or more yards. But Miami's not seen an Ameer Abdullah-led rush attack, with a quarterback who's averaging nearly 10 yards per touch. NU better get a body on hard-hitting LB Denzel Perryman, which is easier said than done. He had a team-high 108 tackles last year for a reason.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Miami pass defense

Nebraska's banged-up receivers are closer to full strength, namely Kenny Bell, which will make a difference in NU's passing attack. Tommy Armstrong is still completing just 53.1 percent of his throws. And he'll be under more pressure than ever Saturday. Miami's already recorded 11 sacks -- four from LB Thurston Armbrister.

Miami rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Duke Johnson, the elusive and tough runner, gets all the headlines, and rightfully so. But 230-pound Gus Edwards is the one averaging a team-high 7.8 yards per carry. Joe Yearby can also offer a change-of-pace. Nebraska's given up 3.8 yards per carry against three teams that haven't really tried to establish the run. Miami's threat of deep throws will likely keep the Huskers from loading up the box with extra bodies, too.

Miami pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Receiver Phillip Dorsett, the fastest guy the Husker secondary will see all year, is a concern. He's averaging 35.5 yards per catch and already has four touchdowns. But can freshman QB Brad Kaaya get the ball to him? He's thrown five interceptions already. Confusing him with varying coverages and diverse blitz schemes will be the goal for Nebraska. It's a big reason why teams have completed just 46.1 percent of their passes against NU.

Special teams

De'Mornay Pierson-El ranks 10th nationally in punt return average, gaining 18.0 yards per attempt. Miami's long is 29 yards, and NU punter Sam Foltz will try to keep it that way. He's helped Nebraska rank seventh nationally in net punting (44.7 yards per punt). But the Hurricanes are ranked one spot higher (45.3). Both teams' kickoff coverage units have been spotty at times so far — and Miami gave up a touchdown in its opener. U-M is also without its top kicker.


The Hurricanes are 8-9 on the road under coach Al Golden, but considering the fact that they've played at places like Florida State and Virginia Tech, the noisy environment Saturday night shouldn't come as a shock. The challenge for both teams: Maintain composure. The game's momentum tends to have an amplified effect in primetime matchups like this. And as Nebraska fans know, that's been a difficult task for the Huskers more times than not.

Key matchup: Tight end Clive Walford vs. Nebraska's linebackers

He's a 6-foot-4, 260-pound pass-catcher who often finds openings downfield in Miami's play-action game. He's averaging 15.8 yards per catch this year, totaling two touchdowns. It'll mostly be up to David Santos and Josh Banderas to keep tabs on Walford, though NU's safeties and D-backs will help too. Opposing tight ends caught 39 passes for 519 yards against the Huskers last year.

Our take

It's a reuniting of two programs that played pivotal roles in one another's history. Back in the day, you had varying football cultures clashing on the biggest stage, each viewing the other as the villan. Both programs have slipped from their perches among the elite, dampening this year's meeting from a national standpoint. But both Nebraska and Miami want it bad. And consider too that these are teams of similar talent that likely need a similar blueprint to win — run the ball, run the ball, run the ball! Saturday night should be fun.

Our prediction: Nebraska 27, Miami 17

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