Game Day: Nebraska vs. UCLA

Will Nebraska rise from its slumber?

Rewind, for a second, to kickoff on Black Friday and an electric crowd inside Memorial Stadium. Nebraska, which had roused its moribund, frustrating season with an upset win over Michigan State, had a fine shot at upending undefeated Iowa. Within the NU program, coaches and players were confident, especially after a bye week of preparation, that Iowa would have to play its best game to escape with a win.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. UCLA rush defense

One of the disappointments this season has been the Huskers’ inability to run the ball consistently or with regular authority. The worst of it came in back-to-back games against Northwestern and Purdue, resulting in NU throwing 48 passes in both. But the UCLA defense ranks No. 88 nationally in rushing yards allowed (187.8 per game) and has been dented by injuries.

Nebraska pass offense vs. UCLA pass defense

Nebraska can look good when things are going well, and several Husker receivers had big regular seasons as Tommy Armstrong passed for 2,856 yards and 21 touchdowns. The bugaboo has been interceptions, and Armstrong threw 10 of his 16 in his last four starts. UCLA picked off 12 passes this season, and opponents completed just 56.8 percent of their throws.

UCLA rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

UCLA isn’t one-dimensional, and Paul Perkins’ success the last two seasons backs that up. Perkins averages 5.7 yards per carry and makes defenses pay for missed tackles. Nebraska, however, stayed solid against the run most of the season and went into bowl season No. 8 nationally in rushing defense at 113.4 yards per game. The Huskers also have all their pieces back.

UCLA pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Only two freshmen this season threw for more than the 3,350 yards by quarterback Josh Rosen, who was an immediate good fit for the Noel Mazzone offense. The Bruins also have one receiver with 1,068 yards (Jordan Payton) and another with 10 TDs (Thomas Duarte). Nebraska watched six of its first seven opponents throw for 300 yards or more.

Special teams

UCLA has the Lou Groza Award winner with kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has made 38 of 45 field goals his last two seasons. Nebraska answers with Drew Brown, successful on his last 10 field goals and now 13 of 17 from 40-plus yards. Give NU a solid edge at punter with Sam Foltz (44.4-yard average), but UCLA has the bigger return threat with Devin Fuller.

Intangibles

Motivation will be hard to gauge until the game gets rolling, but UCLA obviously had some higher hopes after being ranked as high as No. 7, and Nebraska is simply fortunate to be playing after a 5-7 season. The Bruins should have the crowd edge and play more regularly on natural grass. Both teams have issues with penalties, but UCLA has a huge edge with turnovers.

Key matchup: UCLA receivers vs. Nebraska cornerbacks

One thing that became clear late in the season and into December is that Nebraska has found its 2016 cornerbacks with Josh Kalu and Chris Jones. Those two now face good final tests to their sophomore seasons, matching up with Jordan Payton, Thomas Duarte and company — with Josh Rosen trying to find them.

Our take

Nebraska is 3-4 against the Pac-12 since 2009, but the talent of this UCLA team is closer to the Bruin squad that beat it in 2012 and ’13 and the USC unit that hung 45 on it last year. NU will have to put up some points, but its defensive effort against a fast-paced UCLA offense likely will be the determining factor.

Our prediction: UCLA 38, NEBRASKA 27

Live updates

Photos

World-Herald fan photos »

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will start broadcasting live at 6:30 p.m. Friday, then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show with Mike'l and Joe Ganz. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-UCLA matchup provided by the NU 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 Database is your new home for archiving 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. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

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

McKewon: Frank Verducci has coached with countless legends, sees same potential in Scott Frost

Frank Verducci has coached at 17 different stops, including five NFL teams. He worked for Bobby Ross, Hayden Fry and Dick LeBeau. He worked with Kirk Ferentz, Bill Snyder and Mike Zimmer. Now he's at Nebraska because Scott Frost shares…

Why Husker QB coach Mario Verduzco has no problem recruiting 'athletes' as quarterbacks

Nebraska has 11 offers out to quarterbacks in the 2019 class. Some of those include pro-style quarterbacks Mike Riley’s staff offered. But that doesn’t include prospects labeled as "athletes" by recruiting services that Nebraska is pursuing as quarterbacks — like…

Former Husker Richie Incognito allegedly threw weights at gym employees, said government was spying on him

Police took veteran NFL guard and former Husker Richie Incognito to a Florida mental hospital after he allegedly threw weights and tennis balls at gym employees and another patron and told officers the government is spying on him.

'Where I Come From': Nebraska broadcasting legend Jack Payne

In the fourth episode of Season 3 of "Where I Come From" — a World-Herald podcast — host Dirk Chatelain sits down for an in-depth interview with Omaha broadcasting legend Jack Payne.

McKewon: Nebraska considering a Big Eight reunion tour? Other than Oklahoma, no thanks

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos hinted in a radio interview Monday night that he’d like to see more nonconference games against Power Five conference opponents. Moos even named some possible options from NU’s old days in the Big Eight and…

Nebraska All-American Grant Wistrom says Scott Frost is 'set up for success' with Huskers

Grant Wistrom watched Central Florida go from winless to undefeated in two seasons, but that isn't what most impressed him about Scott Frost's time in Orlando. It was the way Frost related to his players.

Pick Six Podcast: Reviewing Nebraska baseball, Husker football summer conditioning, Bill Moos' changes

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the May 22 episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Nebraska-Iowa game on Black Friday will return for good after 2021, Bill Moos says

When Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos was hired in October 2017, one of the first messes he tried to clean up was the Black Friday debacle.

Barfknecht: Minnesota Golden Gophers football starting back on the docks again

Ask Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck how he’s doing and the reply often is an exclamation of his favorite word: “Elite!’’ The Gophers didn’t have many elite days last season once Big Ten play started.

Former Husker Richie Incognito released from Bills' retired list, may continue NFL career

Richie Incognito's playing days might not be over after all.

Carriker Chronicles: Reaction to Scott Frost bringing the Unity Council back to Nebraska

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Monday's episode, Carriker discusses Scott Frost continuing to change the culture at Nebraska and bringing back the Unity Council.

Sam's Extra Points: Scott Frost tells local recruits that grass isn't always greener elsewhere

Scott Frost has a recruiting pitch for in-state prospects thinking about spurning hometown Nebraska. Think twice. Learn from Frost’s example.

Shatel: Frank Solich's Husker homecoming would be necessary part of Nebraska's unified future

The timing does, indeed, seem right. Scott Frost is leading a revival to not only honor Nebraska football's past but also turn toward the future in a unified front. Having Frank Solich, Tom Osborne and Frost in the same sold-out…

Shatel: Help us, Hawkeye Nation, you're our only hope (to fill stadium for Big Ten baseball tourney)

This week, the Big Ten takes over TD Ameritrade Park. And there’s only one small problem. Nebraska is taking this year off.

Huskers have options at center after Michael Decker announces retirement from football

Nebraska offensive lineman Michael Decker announced Saturday he has decided to retire from playing football. He started five games at center last year before a season-ending knee injury.

Linebacker Andrew Ward announces departure from Huskers

Linebacker Andrew Ward announced on Twitter Saturday evening he was leaving the Nebraska football program after one season.

Recruiting: Nebraska quickly shoots into final two for junior college nose tackle Tony Fair

Pima (Arizona) Community College defensive tackle Tony Fair is ready make a decision on his next college. Until Friday it appeared Indiana, not far from Fair’s hometown of South Bend, would cruise to landing his commitment. Then Nebraska offered a…

Chatelain: 25 years later, Cam Jurgens outthrows his future Husker coach Scott Frost

25 years ago Scott Frost won a state title in the shot put, one of the final moments of his spectacular high school career. On Friday, one of his top recruits, Cam Jurgens, bested the mark set by his future…

Carriker Chronicles: Dream nonconference showdowns for Scott Frost and the Huskers

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Friday's episode, Carriker debates dream nonconference matchups for Nebraska and why he wants the Huskers to face off against Alabama.

Scott Frost says Unity Council return is likely, Huskers will stand by Maurice Washington

Buy-in is high. Progress is being made. But Nebraska football's journey to excellence remains a marathon, not a sprint, coach Scott Frost reiterated Thursday in a World-Herald interview.

Tom Osborne says now would be 'great time' for Frank Solich to return to Nebraska

It might finally be time for Frank Solich to return to Nebraska.

Recruiting: Huskers making another junior college push, looking to score in Georgia

Nebraska coaches keep gushing about the city of Lincoln, so Lakia Henry, one of the nation’s top junior college recruits, is excited to see it this weekend.

Video: Husker coach Scott Frost shows off his arm, throws out first pitch at Lincoln Saltdogs game

New Husker football coach Scott Frost threw for over 2,600 yards and 18 touchdowns in his NU career. On Thursday, Frost showed off his signature arm strength once again in Lincoln.

Former Husker Mo Seisay signs with Winnipeg Blue Bombers of Canadian Football League

Mo Seisay will make his return to football in Canada. The former Husker cornerback signed a contract Wednesday with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. Seisay hasn't played in a professional football game since 2014.

After yearlong suspension, ex-Husker Randy Gregory will reportedly file for NFL reinstatement

Former Husker Randy Gregory, who was given a one-year suspension in January 2017 for repeated substance abuse violations, will file for reinstatement to the NFL on Thursday, according to the NFL Network.

Carriker Chronicles: Faux Pelini on sharing a cat with Bo Pelini, Twitter tales and more

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks to Faux Pelini about sharing a cat with Bo Pelini, the spring game moment, Carl Pelini, adventures of…

Tom Osborne says 1982, 1993 Huskers were best Nebraska teams to not win national title

Which was the best Nebraska football team to not win a national championship? World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon first posed the question on Twitter with four options — 1982, 1983, 1993 or 1999. Then Tuesday afternoon Tom Osborne was asked…

Huskers look for leader at quarterback; Scott Frost expects no problems meeting scholarship limit

Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Wednesday it’d be “foolish to anticipate” which player he’ll pick as starting quarterback next fall. The four signal-callers left on campus — sophomores Andrew Bunch and Noah Vedral and freshmen Tristan Gebbia and Adrian Martinez…

Recruiting: Four-star QB Michael Johnson has family connections with Huskers, will visit soon

Michael Johnson is getting close to wrapping up his recruitment. The four-star quarterback from Eugene, Oregon, told The World-Herald that he plans on visiting a handful of schools over the next few weeks and committing after that.

Husker signee Maurice Washington's academic status in question; NU has requested NCAA waiver

High-profile Nebraska signee Maurice Washington is set to graduate from a California high school soon, but his academic status as a Husker football player could be up in the air after that.