Game Day: Nebraska vs. Northwestern

A lot on the mind

An up-and-down season finds Nebraska at a pivotal point in the schedule. Coming out of a devastating loss at Minnesota, the Huskers face a team with its own roller-coaster campaign in the Northwestern Wildcats. Can Nebraska overcome key injuries, defensive breakdowns and distractions to get back on track? Husker linebacker Michael Rose can think of one way to put the questions to rest: "We just gotta go out there and make plays."

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Northwestern rush defense

Nebraska strayed from its ground game last week, calling only about two dozen run plays, but I-back Ameer Abdullah still carried for 165 yards. Northwestern is going to be a little more susceptible up front than Minnesota — and who knows if they load the box as the Gophers did — but you have to wonder at least some about the Huskers’ absence of Spencer Long at right guard. Also take note of Northwestern holding Iowa to 3.3 yards a carry last week. Edge: Nebraska

Nebraska pass offense vs. Northwestern pass defense

NU barely went over 50 percent last week with the combination of some drops and missed throws by Taylor Martinez. It will try to get back in sync with Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg at quarterback, with Kellogg the more accurate thrower. Teams have thrown on Northwestern (59.2 percent, 245.8 yards per game) but the Wildcats do have a Big Ten-best 14 interceptions. Edge: Nebraska

Northwestern rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Hard to give the Huskers the defensive edge here after Minnesota became their fifth opponent to run for 195 yards or more (271, 5.0 per carry). The problem for Northwestern is that it again won’t have tailback Venric Mark, and the health of quarterback Kain Colter is a little iffy. Still, the Wildcats have had decent success running the football on NU the last two years. Edge: Northwestern

Northwestern pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Wildcats have cut back on the snaps taken by Trevor Siemian, and Siemian is a better passer than Colter. Northwestern also hasn’t protected very well with 28 sacks allowed, by far the most of any Big Ten team. Nebraska’s last three opponents have completed just 45.2 percent of their passes, but Minnesota needed only eight completions last week to rack up 159 yards on the Huskers. Edge: Nebraska

Special teams

Northwestern is last in the Big Ten in net punting (33.0 yards) and Nebraska is last in punt returns (4.0), so that might be an ugly standoff. The Wildcats have one of the league’s top kickers with Jeff Budzien, who has made 32 of 35 field goals the last two seasons, although Pat Smith connected on three last week for NU. The Huskers rank third in net punting (39.4), lead the league with 33 touchbacks on 51 kickoffs and probably have just a little more explosive capability on kickoff returns. Edge: Nebraska

Intangibles

Northwestern has no fear of the Huskers, beating them two years ago in Lincoln and leading them 28-16 last season before Nebraska rallied. You wonder about the psyche of both teams: Nebraska has a wounded feel to it after last week and Northwestern hasn’t won since Sept. 21. Injuries on offense have hurt both, but the Wildcats are just a little bit better with things such as penalties (fewer than five per game) and forced turnovers (18), and the Huskers are coming off a game where they failed to finish some key drives. Edge: Northwestern

Key matchup: Kain Colter vs. the Nebraska defense

Yeah, his ankle is hurting and the senior hasn’t put up the huge numbers this season, but the Nebraska defense — all levels of it — surely remembers what Colter did as a runner, passer and receiver two years ago. If he mostly sticks to quarterback Saturday, containing his run threat will be the highest priority for NU.

Our take

Northwestern has been a vastly better team in November than October the last few seasons, a nod to head coach Pat Fitzgerald holding his teams together no matter the circumstances. Nebraska also showed it could finish strong when it was in a similar position a year ago and won its last six. It’s a little hard to tell which team might be poised to piece things back together Saturday, so we’ll say it stays close.

Our prediction: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 23

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

Printable rosters

Looking for a handy reference guide that you can take to the game? Check out our two-page printable roster, sorted by jersey number and including height, weight, year in school, hometown and high school information. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Northwestern game provided by the Huskers athletic department. 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.

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

Listen: BRT Podcast

In this week’s edition of "The Big Red Today Podcast," Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon analyze the fallout from Nebraska’s surprising loss to Minnesota. Why couldn’t NU stop the Gophers’ plan? And what will future opponents take from last week and use against the Huskers going forward? The staff writers also try to determine what Nebraska’s offensive strategy will be going forward. Click here »

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 Ten coverage

Look for additional updates on our Big Ten page to get the best coverage of the conference from both The World-Herald and some of the best writers from across the country. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez are Big Ten rivals, but they 'can also be friends'

Nate Stanley and Adrian Martinez spent perhaps five minutes talking about Black Friday. After that, the Iowa and Nebraska quarterbacks got to know each other and become friends.

At Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, Tom Osborne shows his pride in Scott Frost and Adrian Martinez

Former Nebraska coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne was honored at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon on Friday afternoon.

Huskers' Jack Stoll makes Mackey Award preseason watch list for best tight end

Nebraska junior Jack Stoll made the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's best tight end.

Adrian Martinez handles turbulence the same way he does interviews — calm, cool and collected

The first session of Big Ten media days included Ohio State and Michigan State, but the story of Day 1 was Adrian Martinez and the Huskers.

Video: Scott Frost, Husker players at Big Ten media days

Scott Frost discussed Nebraska's 2019 expectations, where the Huskers are actively recruiting, Adrian Martinez's leadership and more at Big Ten media days on Thursday.

Shatel: Scott Frost may ignore the hype, but there's a reason it follows him wherever he goes

Nebraska went 4-8 last year, right? You’d never know it by hanging around the Chicago Hilton this week.

'Half of defense is energy, enthusiasm and hustle.' Blackshirts feel they've improved all three

The Blackshirts look back on their first year under Scott Frost and barely recognize the unit that finished among the worst in the country in most major statistical categories.

Big Ten notes: West coaches see improving division; Teams with unproven quarterbacks

Three coaches of Big Ten West schools spoke at Thursday’s Big Ten media days. All agreed their division is unquestionably on the rise.

Husker notes: Hoping for a healthy Cameron Jurgens; Transfers could be impact players

A full-go season from the converted offensive lineman would go a long way for the Huskers.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 19 Kanawai Noa

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Scott Frost says Huskers will 'wait and see' before making decision on Maurice Washington

Nebraska has yet to make a decision on the status of running back Maurice Washington, and coach Scott Frost said that could continue to be the case all the way until the Aug. 31 season opener.

In his final media day, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany touts positive future as he bids farewell

After Delany’s opening statement — dedicated to thanking his family, staff and various partners of the league — reporters had plenty of blue collar, bottom-line questions for the commish.

Former Husker De'Mornay Pierson-El signs for second stint with Oakland Raiders

Pierson-El had previously joined the Raiders for a few weeks in April before getting waived.

UNLV assistant, former Husker Barney Cotton on waiting list for heart transplant

Barney Cotton will not coach for UNLV this season due to health concerns.

Husker football facilities are 'functional' but 'don't fit the mold' of what Scott Frost is building

While the Huskers’ current setup is “perfectly functional,” Frost said Thursday at Big Ten media days, he gets why there are conversations to build a new facility.

Complete transcript of Husker coach Scott Frost's appearance at Big Ten media day

A complete transcript of Nebraska coach Scott Frost's appearance at the main podium during Big Ten media day.

Nebraska's JD Spielman on Biletnikoff Award watch list for nation's best receiver

Spielman is coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 66 passes for 881 yards and eight touchdowns.

'The hype is good': Bill Moos bullish for second year of Husker football under Scott Frost

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos wants all the preseason praise the media wants to give Husker football in year two of the Scott Frost era.

Big Ten media days: Scott Frost praises Adrian Martinez. 'I wouldn't trade our guy for anybody'

Scott Frost made it to the podium to take some questions at Big Ten media days. Here's what he had to say.

McKewon: Elusive on-field success, Jim Delany's last go-round and 8 other storylines at Big Ten media days

Even if the money is rolling in for each conference team, on-field success — be it in CFP berths or Heisman Trophy winners — has been elusive. Commissioner Jim Delany won’t have to address those issues much longer.

Bland: Husker Hype in Chicago, national media meets Adrian Martinez and more Big Ten storylines

As a tidal wave of expectations continues to rise for the Nebraska football season, at least one question will find an answer Thursday at Big Ten media days.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 20 Ben Stille

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Big Ten summer series: Nebraska-Wisconsin among 12 games to circle on the calendar

They’re the games you circle on the Big Ten calendar for their implications in the league race ... or just because they might be fun.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 21 Damion Daniels

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Nebraska DBs coach Travis Fisher touts true freshmen, newfound maturity of Husker secondary

Nebraska secondary coach Travis Fisher won't limit the potential of his four freshman defensive backs one bit before their first training camp.

Pick Six Podcast: All eyes on Adrian Martinez, Scott Frost and Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten media days

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Former Husker kicker Alex Henery reminisces about favorite punts, the Colorado kick and more

Alex Henery is set to join three other Husker greats in the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame this fall. But first he joined host Mike'l Severe and "The Bottom Line" on Tuesday.

Nebraska's Adrian Martinez, Mohamed Barry selected for preseason watch lists

Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry became the second player in two days to be named to a preseason watch list.

Husker Camp Countdown: No. 22 Mike Williams

The World-Herald is counting down the top 50 Nebraska players you need to know heading into the 2019 season.

Overall ratings for every former Husker in the Madden 20 video game

There are 26 former Nebraska players on the game at launch, with enough at each position to field a starting 11 on both sides of the ball.