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.
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.
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.
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
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…