Game Day: Nebraska vs. Ohio State

A sling and a prayer

No. 9 Nebraska is given scant chance to beat the No. 6 Buckeyes, who must win out to secure their second College Football Playoff berth in three years. If the Huskers score a direct hit and manage to slay Ohio State, it could serve as a slingshot of a different kind, altering the trajectory of NU football.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Ohio State rush defense

The Buckeyes' run defense is every bit as stingy as Wisconsin, which did a pretty good job of slowing down the Huskers' run game for most of the night in Madison. OSU is allowing just 3.39 yards per carry, and linebacker Raekwon McMillan is as good as any 'backer in the Big Ten. Nebraska counters with a still-beat up line, quarterback Tommy Armstrong and one truly healthy back — Terrell Newby, who's having a solid season despite the struggles on the line. This matchup doesn't look particularly favorable for Nebraska, although Wisconsin ran for 236 yards against the Buckeyes.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Ohio State pass defense

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 47.4 percent of their passes against the Buckeyes, who are giving up 5.5 yards per attempt. Safety Malik Hooker is an All-Big Ten caliber player, and Ohio State has four interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns. That won't be easy for Armstrong to handle, especially given Armstrong's struggles in recent weeks. OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano — a former college and NFL head coach — will try to confuse and bait Armstrong into mistakes. Armstrong's former quarterbacks coach, Tim Beck, now works for Ohio State. Beck will know what Armstrong struggles with most. No. 4 may be in for a long day.

Ohio State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The Buckeyes' run game is creative and explosive. Quarterback J.T. Barrett can run it, and he's got two backs — freshman Mike Weber and junior Curtis Samuel — that comprise the Big Ten's best 1-2 punch. Samuel averages 7.86 yards per carry. Barrett carries the ball 15 times per game. Although they go down in the book as passes, OSU uses a lot of quick throws — swing passes and pitch passes — as an extension of its traditional run game. Nebraska's linebackers and safeties struggled with this combo of scheme and athletes when Oregon racked up 336 rushing yards in September. OSU's better than Oregon. And OSU is at home.

Ohio State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Aside from a few bad plays against Purdue, Nebraska's pass defense has been stingy for the last month, and it peaked in a 23-17 loss to Wisconsin, holding the Badgers to 5.0 yards per attempt. OSU's passing game is, at this point, unrefined; as good of a player as Barrett is, he's still left throwing a lot of short passes because his receivers don't get separation downfield. NU corners Chris Jones and Joshua Kalu are better than their Buckeye counterparts. The one guy to watch is Samuel, who often catches the ball on what amounts to extended handoffs. If NU can't tackle him, good night.

Special teams

Both teams take special teams seriously, and both teams have good specialists — returners and kickers. Perhaps there is just one area in which Ohio State has an advantage: punter Cameron Johnston averages 47.52 yards per punt. As a result, OSU is fourth nationally in net punting. Nebraska is 127th out of 128 teams in net punting. This probably won't be a week where Nebraska enjoys a massive field position battle like it did against Wisconsin.

Intangibles

Ohio State football has a pucker factor. That seems odd, given the program is 57-5 since the arrival of Urban Meyer in 2012, but the program plays its best when it's an underdog. OSU hasn't been that since the 2014 College Football Playoff, when it stunned Alabama and Oregon in back-to-back weeks for the national title. Encores to that magical fortnight have been hard to come by. Nebraska — like Northwestern last week — can trigger OSU's nerves if it gets this game into the fourth quarter. To do that, NU has to avoid Ohio State's occasional hot start, which put a fork in Oklahoma this season and Notre Dame last season before those teams knew what hit them.

Key matchup: Tommy Armstrong vs. J.T. Barrett

The edge, on paper, goes to Barrett. But these two Texas high school quarterbacks have a lot of games under their belt and miles under their cleats. Neither has a particularly good offensive line. If Armstrong, who struggled at Wisconsin, finds his place in the Horseshoe, it could be a legacy game moment. Armstrong already has undefeated Michigan State's pelt on the wall. How about Ohio State?

Our take

Nebraska is a 17-point underdog to Ohio State, but, to watch both teams over the last month, that spread seems too big. NU's defense — so long as it can slow down Ohio State's running backs — can carry the Huskers' offense to some degree. From there, it's on Armstrong, coach Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf to steer home the ship. Can they do it? If they do, it's Nebraska's biggest win since 2001 Oklahoma. It's been too long. It's time.

Our prediction: Nebraska 23, Ohio State 21

Live updates

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Ohio State matchup provided by the Husker 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 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.