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
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks to Nebraska defensive line coach John Parrella about his "All Gas, No Brakes" mantra, coaching the 3-4 defense, being back at Nebraska and…
Contrary to current popular opinion, Social Security eligibility isn’t required to land a high-profile position in Nebraska’s athletic department. It may seem that way with Mike Riley, 64, as head football coach and now Bill Moos, 66, as athletic director.
A lot of Nebraska players are pretty banged up this week, coach Mike Riley said on the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday afternoon.
Former Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost knows a thing or two about the option offense, and he's using that knowledge to ready UCF to face it.
New Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos’ contract indicates that football is on the minds of those who gave it to him.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. Tuesday, Carriker takes an in-depth look at Nebraska's hiring of Bill Moos to be the next athletic director.
Members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents expressed support and even delight Monday over the hiring of Bill Moos as Nebraska’s athletic director.
I’m hearing that some of the big-money folks are making their unhappiness known over Mike Riley’s football program.
Bill Moos may be a friendly face, but your skepticism is warranted.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. Monday, Carriker takes an in-depth look at the statistics behind Nebraska's 56-14 loss to Ohio State.
Moos, who has been director of athletics at Washington State since 2010, will begin his tenure in Lincoln on Oct. 23.
Nebraska’s defensive coordinator presided over a Blackshirts surrender that produced more sorrow on my Facebook page and in my Twitter/email message inbox than I can recall since the 2012 Big Ten championship game.
Bill Moos said Sunday that his motto has always been the same in 25 years of athletic administration and won't change as he takes over at Nebraska: "Honor the past, live the present, create the future."
For Bill Moos, his first course of action at Nebraska will likely focus heavily on figuring out who fits at Nebraska, and who doesn’t.
Picture this scene: Oregon State’s head coach (Mike Riley) sitting down with Oregon’s athletic director (Bill Moos) and telling Beaver football stories.
Somebody asked Bill Moos about boots, so he rattled off a couple of his favorite brands. And sports writers nodded in agreement.
If there had been a national betting pool on Nebraska’s hire for athletic director, today would entail offering refunds.
World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Oct. 16.
Bill Moos was always open with Mike Bellotti. So open that they had conversations about what would happen if Moos — then the Oregon athletic director — ever had to fire his football coach.
There was a lot of talk about recovery on Saturday after one of Nebraska’s worst conference home losses ever.
Bill Moos came full circle in 2010 when he was hired as athletic director at Washington State, returning to Pullman after being an all-conference football player for the Cougars in the early 1970s and starting his career in athletics administration…
The former Nebraska center stated three goals when he was introduced as the interim athletic director on Sept. 26. All three got done under his watch, Rimington said Sunday.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Sunday's episode, Carriker gives his gut reaction to Nebraska's new athletic director, Bill Moos.
What do you think of the hire? Vote in the poll below and leave comments sharing your thoughts.
Bill Moos will take over as Nebraska A.D. on Oct. 23, University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor Ronnie Green announced Sunday. Who is he?
Nebraska football coach Mike Riley, captain of this pigskin Titanic, looked cold as he passively watched his program sink, perhaps for good, during Ohio State’s 56-14 evisceration of the Huskers.
Look for Nebraska to introduce a new athletic director this week. It’s not official, but three sources with ties to NU’s administration indicated Saturday interviews took place late last week and that a decision is either imminent or already made.
For the sake of all those national champions and All-Americans, for the thousands who grew up and grew old on the planks of Memorial Stadium, for the pride and dignity of a state and its flagship university. Make. It. Stop.
You could see and hear the boss calling for change. And it seems inevitable now, change will come to Nebraska’s football program. Many want it now, of course, after the embarrassment that unfolded at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
World-Herald staff writer Evan Bland takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 56-14 loss against the Buckeyes.