Game Day: Nebraska vs. Northwestern

Hold onto your seat

About the only thing Northwestern and Nebraska once shared in common was the “NU” acronym. Until 2011. And 2012. And 2013. The combined scores of those games? Huskers 81, Wildcats 80, Hail Mary 1. When Husker wideout Jordan Westerkamp caught that perfectly tipped pass for a memorable 27-24 win last year in Lincoln, Northwestern players collapsed as if they’d been hit by a tranquilizer dart. Yes, Nebraska fans don’t seem to do “rivalries” anymore. But this series, which renews Saturday at Ryan Field, is officially a thing. It is most definitely a thing.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by By Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. Northwestern rush defense

One would expect Northwestern to sell out to stop Ameer Abdullah, which won’t be easy against a guy motivated to bounce back from a 45-yard performance at Michigan State. Tommy Armstrong, averaging 7.0 yards per carry, should find open windows. The Wildcats have avoided giving up explosive gains on the ground in the series with Nebraska.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Northwestern pass defense

Kenny Bell returning to the field will open things up vertically and side-to-side. He’s tied for the team lead with 35 targets from Armstrong, despite missing considerable time with a groin injury. Jordan Westerkamp may find mismatches against linebackers and safeties as well. Nick Van Hoose ranks sixth nationally in passes defended.

Northwestern rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Nebraska’s defensive line has made it difficult for opponents to establish their ground game inside the tackles, holding teams to an average of 3.28 yards per carry on interior runs this year. The emergence of Trevor Roach has helped as well. Northwestern will try to run it, though. Justin Jackson is off to a strong start, averaging 83.7 yards per game.

Northwestern pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Quarterback Trevor Siemian isn’t considered a run threat, so this could be a contest where the Huskers unveil a few of their complex blitz looks. Northwestern will try to neutralize that pass rush with quick throws short (only 15 of its completions have gone for 20 yards or more). Spreading the ball around should be part of the plan.

Special teams

Northwestern’s last in the Big Ten in net punting, averaging just 31.8 net yards per kick. But short punts, if executed well enough, may not be a bad idea against De’Mornay Pierson-El, who still leads the country in punt return yards (334). The Wildcats gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown against Minnesota, what ended up being a go-ahead score.

Intangibles

You wouldn’t think that Nebraska could overlook Northwestern — not after last year. But you probably assumed as much in 2013. And in 2012. Yet the Wildcats, in each game, have dictated tempo from the start, seizing control early and hanging around late. A large contingent of Husker fans made a difference in Evanston, Illinois, two years ago.

Key matchup: Northwestern tight end Dan Vitale vs. Nebraska's defense

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior is a tough cover for most of Northwestern’s opponents. He leads the team with 24 catches. The Huskers have made him an emphasis in the past, holding Vitale to a total of three catches the past two years. Assuming David Santos is fully healthy, he’ll likely draw the assignment. But he’ll have help.

Our take

The three games between the Huskers and Wildcats have been decided by a total of seven points. Why expect anything different this time around? Some may question Northwestern’s credentials this year — but Nebraska should have learned its lesson by now. The Huskers could easily be 0-3 in this series. It’ll be a grind, but Nebraska will survive.

Our prediction: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 20

Live updates

Live Blog Husker Talk Live: Game Day
 

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will broadcast live Saturday from 5 to 6 p.m., then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Northwestern game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History page is your new home for taking a look back into the history of one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.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

Recruiting updates

Visit the Big Red Today recruiting page to find the latest updates on potential future Huskers, including player cards for those athletes already committed. Click here »

Email alerts

Sign up for the Big Red Today email newsletter to get the Husker news, analysis, daily headlines and more delivered to your inbox. Click here »

Big Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Recruiting: 'Impressive' visit with Scott Frost, NU helps Casey Rogers commit to Huskers

Casey Rogers thought Nebraska was the school for him when his official visit ended Sunday. Less than 24 hours later, with three Cornhusker coaches standing in his prep school in Avon, Connecticut, he knew it.

Three quick takes on the commitment of defensive end Casey Rogers to Nebraska

Avon (Connecticut) Old Farms defensive end Casey Rogers committed to Nebraska.

Pick Six Podcast: Changing Nebraska football's culture, Husker hoops and more

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker Headlines in the Jan. 16 episode of the "Pick Six Podcast."

Anthony Banderas keeps Huskers in the family, commits to Nebraska's walk-on class

Lincoln Southwest senior Anthony Banderas wants to follow in his family's footsteps. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound linebacker has heard from his father and brother what it's like to suit up for the Huskers. Now, after committing to NU as a preferred…

Scott Shanle says Husker linebackers to get education in football under Barrett Ruud

Barrett Ruud gets a seal of approval from Scott Shanle as Ruud returns to the Nebraska football program as an assistant on Scott Frost's coaching staff.

Best of TBL, Jan. 16: Lee Barfknecht, Mike Gabinet, Sam McKewon, Scott Shanle and more

Nebraska got a basketball win that it needed Monday night and also announced that Jordy Tshimanga would be returning to practice, and World-Herald beat writer Lee Barfknecht was on "The Bottom Line" on Tuesday to discuss both Husker matters.

Recruiting: Doug Johnson, a 340-pound O-lineman, ready for long-awaited visit to Nebraska

There has always been a short list of college teams that comes to mind for Doug Johnson when it comes to a history of producing quality offensive linemen.

Recruiting: Husker football coaches busy making in-home visits across the country

Nebraska’s football coaches hit the recruiting trail Monday to lock in official visits for the next three weeks and immediately follow up with a prospect who just saw NU with his family.

Syracuse makes hiring of former Nebraska assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh official

Syracuse on Tuesday officially announced the addition of former Nebraska assistant Mike Cavanaugh to its football coaching staff.

Drew Brown wearing Sam Foltz's old number for East-West Shrine Game

Former Nebraska kicker Drew Brown will be wearing No. 27 during the East-West Shrine Game in a tribute to former teammate Sam Foltz.

Carriker Chronicles: What former Husker Barrett Ruud can bring to the Blackshirts as a coach

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Monday's episode, Carriker gives his take on former Blackshirt Barrett Ruud being named to Scott Frost's coaching staff.

Newly committed Breon Dixon could play a variety of defensive positions for Huskers

Nebraska football’s immediate roster makeover continued Sunday when the Huskers accepted their second transfer player in a week.

Three quick takes on the commitment of Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon to Nebraska football

Nebraska received a commitment from Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon, who will join the Huskers’ program.

Legendary announcer Keith Jackson held Nebraska football fans in high regard

Keith Jackson, whose signature phrases like “Whoa, Nelly!” made him the down-home voice of college football during more than five decades as a sportscaster, died Friday. He was 89.

Recruiting: New Husker coaching staff makes rounds to check out local talent

Nebraska's football staff made several stops on Friday, including Omaha North, Burke, Creighton Prep, Bellevue West and Lincoln High.

Husker Hall of Famer Dave Rimington sees award growing in importance

When friends convinced Husker legend Dave Rimington to put his name on a trophy that honors the nation’s best collegiate center, he wanted to make sure it reflected the duties and importance of the position.

Recruiting: Late changes to Nebraska's official visit weekend

Nebraska experienced several changes to its official visitor recruiting list this weekend.

Nebraska signee, juco wideout Jaron Woodyard not yet enrolled on campus

Jaron Woodyard’s immediate future with Nebraska appears uncertain as the early junior college signee has yet to enroll in classes and is not on campus.

Carriker Chronicles: Wahoo Neumann grad Noah Vedral reunites with Husker coach Scott Frost

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Friday's episode, Carriker gives his take on Wahoo Neumann grad Noah Vedral transferring to Nebraska and reuniting with Scott Frost.

Carriker Chronicles: Tom Osborne vs. Nick Saban — who is the best coach of all time?

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Thursday's episode, Carriker presents the facts and debates the greatest coach of all-time, Nebraska's Tom Osborne or Alabama's Nick Saban.

McKewon: Big recruiting weekend an opportunity to begin Blackshirts rebuild

Nebraska's first big recruiting weekend of January feels in part like an attempt to address some of the defense's deficiencies from last season. Among the visitorsare two pass rushers with national recruiting profiles, their top remaining target at defensive end,…

Outland Trophy notes: Bobby Bowden’s advice buried Tom Osborne in bad bowl stretch

Tom Osborne said when he noticed how well Bobby Bowden was doing down at Florida State, he took a trip down to Tallahassee.

Recruiting: Three takes on Mike Williams' commitment to Nebraska

East Mississippi Community College wideout Mike Williams committed to Nebraska Wednesday night. Three takes on the decision.

Carriker Chronicles: SEC scheduling, an eight-team playoff and UCF's final ranking

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Tuesday's episode, Carriker offers his take on Scott Frost's comments on ESPN about the SEC's easier scheduling, a potential 8-team playoff and…

Legends on hand for Outland Trophy banquet, but former FSU coach Bobby Bowden focused on Scott Frost

In a small side room at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Omaha, Bellevue West senior AJ Forbes shook the hand of Florida State legend Bobby Bowden.

Risk pays off for junior college wide receiver Mike Williams as he commits to Huskers

Junior college wide receiver Mike Williams announced Wednesday that he was committing to Nebraska.

Husker coach Scott Frost awarded again; Iowa State's Matt Campbell, Iowa Western's Scott Strohmeier honored by AFCA

Nebraska coach Scott Frost was named AFCA FBS Coach of the Year at the American Football Coaches Awards presentation Tuesday.

Former Husker QB Zac Taylor promoted to L.A. Rams quarterbacks coach

Former Nebraska QB Zac Taylor was promoted to quarterbacks coach by the Los Angeles Rams, the team announced on Tuesday.

Outland Trophy winner Ed Oliver fought through storm, injuries to have standout season for Houston

There was a horse named Oreo who Ed Oliver is convinced tried to kill him. “Swear to God,” the 2017 Outland Trophy Winner said on Tuesday. “Ask my dad.”

Cowboys DT Maliek Collins has surgery to address a nagging foot problem from 2017

Dallas defensive tackle and former Nebraska star Maliek Collins had recent surgery to address a stress reaction in his left foot, the Cowboys announced Tuesday on their website.