Nebraska rush offense vs. Fresno State rush defense
When you last watched, the Huskers were putting a 326-yard hurt on UCLA. That capped an inconsistent season — four games under 140 yards, three over 240 — and now NU has three first-time starters on its offensive line and two others changing positions. Fresno State couldn’t stop the run a year ago, giving up 234.7 yards a game and ranking No. 116 in rushing defense. Ball control would be one way for NU to keep the Bulldog offense off the field.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Fresno State pass defense
Few reasons for the Huskers to struggle here, with Tommy Armstrong making his 34th career start, surrounded by a loaded receiving corps and entering his second season in the Mike Riley-Danny Langsdorf offense. The X-factor is interceptions, of course, and Fresno State does have some experience in its secondary. A steady run game could set the table for an easier time of it, too.
Fresno State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Bulldogs get back junior Dontel James, who spent last season at a California junior college. The 220-pound running back required minor knee surgery three weeks ago but appears ready to go. Fresno State didn’t run the ball very effectively a year ago, and Nebraska ranked No. 9 nationally in rushing defense (109.8 yards per game). The Huskers lost some horses up front, but planning on better linebacker play.
Fresno State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Bulldogs fondly remember the Derek Carr era, when the current Raiders quarterback threw for 12,843 yards and 113 TDs between 2009 and ’13. They have struggled ever since, and turn to redshirt freshman Chason Virgil to see what he can bring. Nebraska did have problems defending the pass last season and its pass rush is unproven, so it could be interesting what first-year offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau does here.
Nebraska will honor punter Sam Foltz on Saturday night, and the All-Big Ten performer definitely will be missed as the Huskers turn to freshman Caleb Lightbourn. But NU is expecting more big things from kicker Drew Brown, and it hopes to get a boost from a healthy De’Mornay Pierson-El and freshman Tre Bryant in the return game. Fresno State kicker Jimmy Camacho made 21 of 26 field goals during his lone junior-college season in 2014, but only attempted four a year ago for the Bulldogs.
For all of its troubles last season, Fresno State was lightly penalized (59 total) and was only minus-two on turnover margin. The Bulldogs have a reputation for playing anybody and anywhere, but a Memorial Stadium night game with a lot of freshmen and sophomores in uniform makes for a tall task, especially with two new coordinators. NU has been feeding off some 2015 late-season momentum and will want to avoid a repeat of its season-opening loss to BYU a year ago.
Key matchup: Nebraska cornerbacks vs. Fresno State receivers
Nebraska liked how cornerbacks Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones finished last season, and they head into their junior seasons with some confidence and experience — and hope for the Huskers to be better on the back end in 2016. Fresno State will challenge them with five receivers who have combined for 196 career catches, including senior Aaron Peck and sophomore Jamire Jordan.
Nebraska owns a huge edge in experience at quarterback, and Virgil has to deal with the Husker crowd in addition to directing a new Bulldog offense. NU head coach Mike Riley has talked often about a “good vibe” around Husker football this offseason, and now it’s time to take it to the field. Nebraska should get its points and the defense should be further along than a year ago.
Our prediction: Nebraska 48, Fresno State 23
Big Red Today coverage
A player-by-player look at how all 10 of Nebraska's 2018 recruits performed, individually and as a team, during games played during Nebraska's bye week.
Camp Feel Good. That’s the Huskers’ training camp in 2017. The players walk with a collective pep, which is odd for the August grind. Whether it lasts into the season remains to be seen, but Bob Diaco has jolted the…
Time spent on tee boxes and greens this summer is starting to help the Husker tight ends. The summer camaraderie is spilling onto the football field as Jack Stoll, Connor Ketter, Tyler Hoppes and the rest compete for the starting…
Adam Carriker will appear on Omaha.com and “The Bottom Line,” offering opinions on Nebraska football, breaking down games, answering fans’ questions and posting video reaction after games. If you haven’t ever heard him, you’re going to love him.
It's been more than two years since Cameron Jurgens committed to Nebraska, and the time is fast approaching when he'll officially become a Husker.
Fake it till you make it. The motto flashed through JD Spielman’s mind often during his first 12 months as a college football player. So far, there has been more pretending than the speedy wide receiver cares to admit.
Nebraska's 2018 recruiting class got smaller Thursday evening when Corona (Calif.) Centennial wide receiver Manuel Allen announced on Twitter he was decommiting from NU and flipping to Louisville.
A big play at Nebraska’s Thursday practice pitted two top-100 recruits against each other.
He’s not a tall cornerback. He’s not built like a safety. Dicaprio Bootle is one of the smaller scholarship players on Nebraska’s 2017 roster, which lists him at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. The height seems a little generous.
The Huskers have recently offered a pair of defensive recruits from bordering states, continuing a push to close out the class on that side of the ball with targets from within the 500-mile radius.
If and when Nebraska needs depth at linebacker, Trent Bray is more confident than ever in maintaining quality. The NU linebackers coach said Tuesday that the “4” part of Bob Diaco’s 3-4 defense has made noticeable strides in the last…
Nebraska made an entry Monday night into the recruitment of consensus four-star John Waggoner. He's the top-ranked recruit in Iowa, according to all the major recruiting services.
Note to Big Ten defensive coordinators: Don’t read this column at meal time. Maybe don’t peruse it at all, so you can dodge the queasy feeling that comes with figuring out ways to slow down Penn State running back Saquon…
Lightbourn’s reality changed in the spring, when new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said he would coach punters directly. For Diaco, every detail makes a difference.
It’s no secret Nebraska volleyball stands out from the other Husker sports. There are reasons for that. I might have found another one.
Already having established himself as Nebraska’s fastest running back, Mikale Wilbon has been working to earn another title before the Sept. 2 opener against Arkansas State.
Nebraska just got three times as much money and Adidas apparel per year at a time when the Big Ten’s full share is about to kick in. How did Shawn Eichorst pull that off?
With a chance to make significant contributions in Nebraska’s new 3-4 defense, Mohamed Barry has been fine-tuning two areas of his game.
Mike Riley has never worked with a group of defensive assistants this young. All played college football in the not-so-distant past. All are well-regarded recruiters eager to meet prospects. In the months that the staff has been together, team workouts…
Coach Mike Riley said NU worked on third-down, red zone and “high red zone” plays — those start around the opponents’ 40-yard line — and mixed in a few drives. Unlike Thursday, when the offense struggled at times to deal…
While playing as a true freshman wouldn’t be “the best thing for him,” quarterback Tristan Gebbia has impressed coaches so much during the first half of training camp that they’d consider pulling his redshirt if needed.
At the University of Nebraska Board of Regents meeting Friday, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green told regents he'd been talking with the Big Ten, which created the Friday night TV package with Fox Sports 1, and does not think NU will…
Cameron Brown made one commitment to Nebraska that only lasted a month, so now that he has rejoined the Huskers' 2018 recruiting class, is he going to stick this time?
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will stay in an exclusive contract with Adidas and will get more than $128 million in cash and goods over 11 years.
Nebraska wants to open up its passing playbook this season, and NU coaches believe Tanner Lee is the quarterback who can do it. But NU is running low on healthy scholarship receivers who can catch Lee’s passes.
Nebraska knows Tanner Lee is its starting quarterback. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf hedged Thursday on which backup — between Patrick O’Brien and Tristan Gebbia — is No. 2.
Sometimes, real life interrupts the best plans of football coaches and columnists. Big Ten West Division favorite Wisconsin got a real-life slap in the face Thursday with news that All-America candidate Jack Cichy is out for the season with a…
Devine Ozigbo has looked slim and trim this training camp. He’s stayed in the weight room, which has helped, but most importantly, he said, he stayed in Lincoln instead of going home to Sachse, Texas, over the summer.
We’re expecting a Diaco Effect this season. That’s why the defensive guru was hired. It’s on his résumé. It’s in his voice. It’s in his coaching. Impact. How long will it take for Diaco to have that impact? Good question.
DaiShon Neal insists he doesn’t get excited for games. Yes, he knows it sounds funny coming from a redshirt sophomore with two career tackles.