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.
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.
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?
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
Big Red Today coverage
Husker football coaches will be in attendance for a junior college prospect camp on July 22 hosted by Kansas, according to a flier tweeted by the Jayhawks' director of recruiting.
Nate Gerry and Cethan Carter might carry the best hopes of Nebraska prospects, but overall lukewarm projections leave the Huskers looking at a lean NFL draft for the second time in five years.
Nebraska senior offensive lineman Dwayne Johnson has left the program and will pursue transfer options after he graduates in May with a degree in criminal justice and criminology, a Husker spokesman confirmed Wednesday. Huskers Illustrated first reported the news.
The Huskers have to be happy with their haul to this point. They’re hovering around the top 10 nationally in the recruiting ratings thanks to a lush star-rating-per-prospect. Life’s pretty good in The Good Life. So, what now?
Restricted free agent linebacker Will Compton re-signed with the Washington Redskins on Monday.
Nebraska’s first priority of the spring evaluation period was to “swarm” its own state. The Huskers hit high schools in every corner of Nebraska over the last week, but now the coaches are expanding their range.
Given where Chris Jones plays on a football field — out on an island at cornerback, just a man and his assignment — perhaps it makes sense. The senior who may be NU’s best overall player doesn’t talk much to…
As one of the most successful receivers in Nebraska football history, Jordan Westerkamp knew a little something about adjusting routes and finding ways to make things work. The last four months have been a little like that, too.
Nebraska’s staff spread out, “swarming the state” and promoting it hard on social media. All told, the Husker staff made close to 50 stops six days after the spring game.
Nebraska received its eighth known verbal commit for the 2018 class on Sunday evening from Corona (Calif.) Centennial wideout Chase Williams. Three quick thoughts on his decision.
Nebraska football kept its recruiting roll going Sunday evening when Corona (California) Eleanor Roosevelt athlete Chase Williams verbally committed to the Huskers via a video he released on Twitter.
Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst was a key architect of a massive recruiting reform package — one Husker coaches supported — that was passed April 14 by the NCAA Division I Council.
It’s been a long, long time since Nebraska had a quarterback play quarterback in the NFL. A long time since NU had a quarterback drafted as a quarterback.
Maybe it’s wise to check out what has worked for the Big Ten’s most consistent defense recently — Wisconsin — which conveniently also is among the programs the Huskers have to conquer to get out of the West Division.
Several Nebraska football coaches had a busy day Friday, swarming the state visiting potential 2018 and 2019 recruits. Here's a few of the coaches' tweets pinpointing the high schools they visited throughout the day.
Nebraska officially has seven commitments for the 2018 class. But on Mike Riley’s Husker Sports Network radio show Thursday night, the coach said NU has nine commitments — which means two of them are “silent” unannounced verbal pledges — with…
Nebraska has never had a recruiting class finish better than 17th in ESPN's rankings. The Huskers' 2018 class currently ranks in the top 10. ESPN released Thursday its updated player rankings for the 2018 class, and the Huskers have four…
Riley said Wednesday he was pleased the NCAA Division I Council voted last week to significantly regulate how many camps college coaches can work, and where those camps can be held.
The 10 recruits that were committed to Nebraska earliest in their respective recruiting cycles, and the current Husker commits that have a chance at cracking this list.
Nebraska split practice time evenly this spring as QBs Tanner Lee and Patrick O'Brien battled for the starting job. NU coach Mike Riley announced Wednesday that the job is now Lee's to lose.
David Knevel said the Nebraska offense seemed to find traction this spring with a particular outside running play, with “pinners and pullers” and a design that the right tackle thought was a good fit for Husker linemen.
World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Jon Nyatawa tackle top local topics and the hottest headlines from across the country in the April 18 edition of "The Pick Six Podcast."
No need to scour the dictionary for flowery phrases to describe Rutgers’ football offense last year when one word will do: Inept. Maybe “inept” should be in capital letters considering the Scarlet Knights were last nationally in total offense (283.2…
For Nebraska’s 2017 football team, picking out the big movers isn’t the hard part. It’s limiting the list to just 10. That’s because Nebraska arguably has its youngest and least experienced roster since 2011, the season after the Huskers had…
Teammate of NU signee Damion Daniels plans to make decision after senior season.
Prized defensive line/tight end prospect "definitely" keeping Nebraska in the mix
Spielman got a taste of what he’s been waiting for with four receptions and a touchdown in the Red-White scrimmage Saturday.
Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2018 recruiting class won’t have to learn the nuances of defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
Some Husker fans want transparency from their athletic department. But I’m not sure this is what they had in mind.
Five quick takes on the commit of Parker (Colorado) defensive end Tate Wildeman, who announced his decision to pledge to Nebraska on Sunday.