Nebraska rush offense vs. Tennessee rush defense
The Huskers weren’t always running it well when Tommy Armstrong was healthy. Now, they must find a way to cover for what they lose without the quarterback run threat against an SEC defense. The line has had a month to get healthy, but NU will not only have to open some holes but have I-back Terrell Newby do some of his best work — and he's coming off a minor knee injury. Tennessee, however, gives up 231.7 yards a game and 5.15 per carry.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Tennessee pass defense
NU starts out with one hand tied behind its back, going without its all-time leading passer (Armstrong) and second-most productive receiver in school history (Jordan Westerkamp). The Huskers don’t want to make it any harder on Ryker Fyfe than it needs to be, so that will require some running success and manageable situations. If not, defensive end Derek Barnett and the Vols defensive line will be dictating what happens.
Tennessee rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Vols’ success came and went this season, and having Jalen Hurd walk away in October didn’t help. Alvin Kamara is a breakaway threat, but not a workhorse. Nebraska also will need to contain the threat from quarterback Joshua Dobbs (713 yards, nine TDs). In Nebraska’s last seven games, they allowed 223, 238 and 264 yards in the three losses, and fewer than 100 yards in the four wins. NU can’t afford the big play, which stung it at Iowa.
Tennessee pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
Nebraska is down a key player here, too, with senior safety Nate Gerry ineligible and sophomore Antonio Reed making his first career start. Can Tennessee take advantage? It has a veteran quarterback with Dobbs, and the ability to go down the field with Josh Malone (18.9 yards per reception) and Jauan Jennings (15.3). The Huskers not only will have to find a way to pressure Dobbs but not let him escape the pocket. If he does, that could be trouble.
Tennessee is better almost everywhere, with the exception of Nebraska having a place-kicking edge with Drew Brown. Vols junior Trevor Daniel is one of the nation’s best punters (44.7 yards per kick), and Tennessee is dangerous on both kickoff returns (24.9 yards) and punt returns (11.4). The Husker troubles became such an issue that special teams coordinator Bruce Read was fired after the Iowa game.
Both teams are coming off disappointing efforts against rivals to finish the regular season, with Nebraska getting pounded 40-10 at Iowa and Tennessee blowing a halftime lead and losing 45-34 at Vanderbilt. Both have said all the right things about bowl motivation, but it’s always hard to tell until kickoff. The penalty numbers are similar, but NU is better with turnovers. UT will have a definite home edge in Nashville and Nebraska is just 1-4 against SEC teams in bowl games since 2002.
Key matchup: Tennessee DE Derek Barnett vs. Nebraska OTs Nick Gates and Cole Conrad
All you need to know about Barnett is that he shares the Tennessee school record for sacks with Reggie White. The junior will mix speed and bull rushes, and Nebraska likely will have to give Gates and Conrad some help to slow his charge.
Nebraska knows the value of preparing the right way and playing well in the postseason after the 37-29 win over UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl last year lifted the Huskers’ spirits for the winter. NU will head into this one without the services of three of its most important players, however, so Tennessee can take advantage if the Vols are ready to do so. Can Nebraska score enough to keep pace?
Our prediction: Tennessee 37, Nebraska 27
Big Red Today coverage
Nebraska’s season can be summed in the second quarter Saturday.
World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht ranks the Big Ten football teams, as published in The World-Herald on Nov. 20.
If Joe Ganz deserved credit for making the very end of the Bill Callahan era mildly enjoyable, so does Tanner Lee, especially one week after a concussion.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Sunday's episode, Carriker evaluates who else could be on Nebraska's radar if Scott Frost goes a different route.
Interest might be higher in seeing how many fans show up — and what the red and white vs. black and gold mix is — than the outcome of Iowa and Nebraska's game on Black Friday.
On Saturday, longtime Husker fans were picking up groceries at Walmart or Christmas shopping at Westroads Mall instead of settling into the couch in front their flat screen TVs.
If and when Riley is replaced, UNL will be paying three current and former football coaches and two athletic directors, all at once.
The Blackshirts gave up more than 50 points in a game for the third time this season as Nebraska suffered its seventh loss of the year in a 56-44 defeat Saturday at Penn State.
There’s one more game left to play this season, maybe one more game left in Tanner Lee’s limited Nebraska career. But it’s hard to imagine this not being a snapshot we keep of Lee and store wherever it is we’ll…
In a way, it’s lucky. Because at this point in the season, the quarterbacks don’t throw much during practice.
Penn State coach James Franklin didn't fret about letting Nebraska score 34 second-half points in PSU's 56-44 victory over the Huskers. Too many things went right.
Three quick takes by World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel following Nebraska's 56-44 loss to Penn State on Saturday.
Nebraska's hopes didn't end the first time Saquon Barkley sped through defenders Saturday afternoon. But it surely was a sign that the Heisman Trophy campaign for the Penn State running back was about to be in full revival.
Stanley Morgan not only pushed his season total above 900 yards, but he also now sits 30 yards behind Johnny Rodgers’ 1972 school record for receiving yards in a season.
Four keys from Nebraska's 56-44 loss to Penn State on Saturday, including a peculiar play, a questionable call and more.
World-Herald staff writer Evan Bland takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' 56-44 loss to Penn State.
Rain played havoc with everything but the game itself as Penn State dismantled Nebraska Saturday on a soggy Beaver Stadium field.
Five things we learned and five things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Penn State.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Saturday's episode, Carriker gives his gut reaction to the Huskers' loss against the Nittany Lions.
Watch video highlights from Nebraska's postgame press conference following the loss to Penn State.
It will be a Penn State party, a celebration of a revival, of perseverance. A hapless Nebraska bunch is being served as the main course. But if NU Athletic Director Bill Moos, the coaches, players and fans look around to…
The programs, similar in their insularity and love of tradition, couldn’t be further apart at this moment. Nebraska has won all three Big Ten games against the Nittany Lions, including two in Happy Valley; that’s almost certain to change starting…
Wisconsin is the darling of college football’s “defense wins championships” crowd. Under first-year coordinator Jim Leonhard, the Badgers are No. 1 nationally in total defense (247.6 yards), No. 1 in rushing defense (81.5 yards), No. 1 in pass efficiency defense…
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Friday's episode, Carriker discusses what is irking him the most beyond the losses — NU's lack of passion.
Coach Mike Riley calls it a formula: The pace at which an offense plays and how that relates to the defense, and in turn, how the defense relates to the offense by getting stops and turnovers.
As Scott Frost walked into the interview in 2015, the men before him knew his credentials. But several candidates for the Central Florida job had been head coaches. Frost had not. His interview was critical.
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Thursday's episode, Carriker talks to NU freshman JD Spielman about his record-breaking season, moving up the depth chart, finding out that he was adopted and more.
Mick Stoltenberg's deep voice booms like a megaphone through walls inside Memorial Stadium
Scott Frost’s choice is more complicated than salaries or trophies or conference affiliation. It really boils down to this: Does he covet tradition or imagination? Does the new dad want to save something old or build something new?
All year round, Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks about former Husker and UCF coach Scott Frost and if he would be the best candidate for any potential job openings at Nebraska.