Nebraska rush offense vs. Northwestern rush defense
According to his handful of Internet critics, Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf doesn't call enough running plays, but the Huskers have run the ball with pop and efficiency this season, as evidenced by 5.35 yards per carry on the ground. Nebraska has found a rhythm to its running back rotation of Terrell Newby, Devine Ozigbo, Imani Cross and Andy Janovich. Northwestern's run defense gives up 4.24 yards per carry — 11th in the Big Ten. Michigan and Iowa proved teams can run right at Northwestern's front seven.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Northwestern pass defense
Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong played his most efficient game at Minnesota, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. The Husker wide receiver corps is close to full strength with the return of De'Mornay Pierson-El. Northwestern's pass defense ranks second in the Big Ten in overall efficiency. The Wildcats are deadly in the red zone, where they've allowed just five completions and intercepted two passes. Nebraska needs its pass game to produce something, but Northwestern, with an experienced secondary, may be the toughest challenge yet.
Northwestern rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
No team in the nation has faced fewer rush attempts per game than Nebraska, which should drop a major hint as to how Northwestern will fare. The Wildcats are most likely to stay committed to the run game — quarterback Clayton Thorson is a mediocre passer at best — but backs Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault are unlikely to get too untracked against a team bent on stopping the run with two defensive tackles — Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine — suited to do it.
Northwestern pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Wildcats' fervent desire to prevent Thorson — who was benched in the Iowa game for backup Zack Oliver — means that Northwestern's pass game is limited and mostly a complement to the ground game. But Nebraska's pass defense hasn't bowed up against any other team this year, and Northwestern's collection of receivers — Christian Jones, Miles Shuler, Dan Vitale and Austin Carr are among them — are probably better than what Wisconsin and Minnesota put on the field against the Huskers. Both of those teams topped the 300-yard mark.
This category almost always tends to favor the team with more depth and talent, which means that it will favor Nebraska. The Huskers' punt and kickoff coverage — aided by punter Sam Foltz and kicker Drew Brown — have been solid, but the return units have been inconsistent-to-awful, especially on kickoff returns. Northwestern kick returner Solomon Vault is dangerous. The Wildcats' punter, Hunter Niswander, gets good hangtime on his punts, often forcing returners into fair catches.
Which team is hungrier to win? Well, Northwestern, which is coming off of two humiliating losses. The Wildcats know why they lost so badly to Michigan and Iowa and are determined to reverse the trend. For whatever reason, Nebraska has been a hot-and-cold team — often in the same game — in 11 a.m. starts. The Husker crowd should be juiced for alternate uniforms. Of course, they didn't do Northwestern much good in 2012 and 2014, when the Wildcats wore them against the Huskers.
Key matchup: Northwestern's offensive line vs. Nebraska's defensive line
Of all the teams Nebraska will face, Northwestern is the least likely to take advantage of the Huskers' bad pass defense. The Wildcats have to run the ball well on first and second down or face the consequences. But if they do, Nebraska's defense could be in for a long day.
This game seems like a trap for Nebraska. The opponent is hungry and stingy against the pass. Nebraska has just won a game and is perhaps looking to build on that momentum. Further, there's a sense that Husker coaches are worried — perhaps too worried — about Northwestern's run defense in a way that makes you wonder if Nebraska will try to pass too much. But the Wildcats are not a hard bunch to figure out. Stop the run, force the pass, grind clock, go home with a win. We'll bet on Nebraska doing that — just barely.
Our prediction: Nebraska 24, Northwestern 20
Big Red Today coverage
Nebraska will have some of their top recruits in the 2018 and 2019 classes on campus this weekend for the Friday Night Lights camp and Big Red Weekend.
Richie Incognito flips his white hat backward and squats into a stance, feet spread wide, eyes forward. His teal Nike T-shirt clings to his barrel chest. Tattoos cover his forearms. Sweat mats his hair.
You figure we’d learn. That Nebraska media and fans would pump the brakes when it comes to recruiting and expecting too much too soon from freshmen who are figuring out how to be an adult as they find their place…
Brendan "Bookie" Radley-Hiles feels it's been too long since there was greatness at Nebraska, and he plans to bring it back.
Flip on Hayden Conner's highlights and you'd probably wonder what a grown man is doing on a football field with a bunch of middle schoolers.
Council Bluffs Lewis Central quarterback Max Duggan, a top 2019 quarterback target for Nebraska, is considering attending the Huskers’ second and star-studded Friday Nights Lights after he performed well at the first one.
Garrett Nelson on Friday had what any high school athlete in Nebraska would consider a fantastic day.
Nebraska safeties coach Bob Elliott has moved to a defensive analyst position due to personal reasons, the school announced Tuesday in a press release, and Scott Booker has been promoted to replace him as a full-time assistant.
Nebraska receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. — the star Calabasas (California) receiver who signed with the Huskers and was at the center of a recruiting movement in California — is taking a leave of absence from NU's program just six months…
Nebraska had 2018 offensive tackle Chris Bleich high on its list of targets, but the 6-foot-6, 305-pounder — who visited for NU's spring game — committed Monday night to UCLA via Twitter.
Joshua and Jordan Moore’s dad had a Father’s Day stuffed with emotions. He’d mourned and rejoiced in one afternoon.
Our Husker Camp Countdown begins Monday, and it’s never been harder trying to pick the 50 Nebraska football players we think will be big factors in the upcoming season.
Yoakum (Texas) receiver Joshua Moore committed to Nebraska Sunday, picking the Huskers over Florida State and Texas A&M. What’s it mean for Nebraska?
The relationship Keith Williams started with Joshua Moore eventually paid off in a major commit for the Huskers’ 2018 recruiting class.
He’s the first athlete of the year from Beatrice since Bob Hohn in 1960. He’s also only the fourth junior honored in 67 years, following Gerry Gdowski of Fremont in 1985, Leodis Flowers of Omaha Central in 1986 and Ron…
In Lee’s final season at Tulane — the last data point we have for Nebraska’s new starting quarterback — he played four games, nearly half his season, with at least one finger tied behind his back, if you will.
Nebraska’s first Friday Night Lights of the year kicked off under the lights in Memorial Stadium. But within an hour, the coaching staff shifted the event inside before severe storms smacked the city.
For the second straight year, an in-state defensive linemen received a scholarship offer from Nebraska directly after a Friday Night Lights camp.
One of our new recruiting features at The World-Herald will be a monthly Big Ten recruiting rankings update. We're doing a second one this month to recap a busy stretch in the recruiting cycle.
A short stroll down Stadium Drive was all it took to get a feel for how Nebraska’s inaugural Fan Fest was going. Whether Husker fans or not, those present all spoke enthusiastically about the Friday evening event that felt, looked,…
World-Herald prep recruiting specialist Mike Sautter was in attendance at Nebraska's Friday Night Lights camp and highlights the top in-state prospects at the camp on Friday, June 16.
For the 173rd week in a row, seemingly, the talk of Nebraska recruiting has something or other to do with a wideout.
The Huskers spread all over the country to work satellite camps and evaluate potential recruits. Here's a closer look at some of those recruits that landed NU offers after their performances at the satellite camps.
Nebraska offered a scholarship to a football prospect heading into his freshman year of high school. His name is Dacari Collins and he's from Atlanta, Georgia. He's 6-foot-3 heading into high school. It should surprise no one he also plays…
There weren’t any 2018 prospects of note at the Lindenwood University event, but Nebraska wouldn’t have minded if Cameron Brown made an appearance. In his absence, the three-star receiver did make an appearance, so to speak.
Tyjon Lindsey has never settled in. Not really.
Wide receiver Cameron Brown said Ohio State wasn't the reason he decommitted from Nebraska on Saturday, but the timing will leave Husker fans wondering.
Mike Riley is here in the region with a purpose — to continue building inroads for that handful of top players each year who come out of the St. Louis area.
Nebraska's football staff is near the end of its whirlwind week of satellite camps. At Lindenwood University — a pleasant, private Division II school west of downtown St. Louis — there were some good-looking athletes.
Lee and nine other position group leaders — established by team vote during winter conditioning — have enlisted Husker strength coaches to install an accountability program that Lee thinks will help Nebraska finish strong and compete for a Big Ten…