Game Day: Nebraska vs. Southern Miss

Can't touch this

Even after a week of soul-searching, the Husker coaches are expressing steadfast confidence that the defense will take a big step forward. More than 90,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and a Big Ten Network audience await improvement against a Golden Eagles offense that scored 15 points in a loss to Texas State. With reporters swarming them this week, defensive coaches said they await it, too. They peered pragmatically — and, at times, confidently — at the road ahead after Nebraska gave up 602 yards and 35 first downs against Wyoming.

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. Southern Miss rush defense

Nebraska put up a sound number last week, running for 375 yards (and 6.0 per carry). It also spread out 47 carries among I-backs Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Terrell Newby, with fresh legs a chance to be a factor again. Southern Miss allowed Texas State a net 73 rushing yards last week, but this is a different kind of challenge for the Golden Eagles. Edge: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. Southern Miss pass defense

Taylor Martinez takes another shot at USM after scorching the Golden Eagles for 354 yards and five touchdowns a year ago. The Huskers didn't get too fancy against Wyoming as Martinez went 17 of 22, and took few chances downfield. Martinez finished with 155 yards -- his only game lower last season was at Iowa in the cold -- but did connect on three TDs. Edge: NU

Southern Miss rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

The lost yardage from three sacks last week helped keep the Golden Eagles' rushing total to just 23 yards. If they can't get anything established running the ball -- or don't really try -- they could be throwing it 50-plus times again. That would make it easy on a Husker defense that got gouged at times by Wyoming, especially up the middle. Edge: NU

Southern Miss pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

The Golden Eagles go from one of the worst passing units in Conference USA to an intriguing attack with coach Todd Monken and QB Allan Bridgford. The Cal transfer passed for 377 yards last week, and receivers Tyre'oune Holmes and Rickey Bradley combined for 19 catches and 289 yards. Some pressure might be needed to keep them from playing catch. Edge: Southern Miss

Special teams

Other than a failed PAT, NU got off to a good start. Its kick coverage included four touchbacks and three returns to the 18, 22 and 17. Redshirt freshman punter Sam Foltz was sharp, and Kenny Bell put a little pizzazz in the kick-return game with 37- and 35-yarders. The Eagles have a pair of returners to watch in Jalen Richard and Emmanuel Johnson. Edge: NU

Intangibles

NU plays at home (the game was moved from Hattiesburg). UCLA is on deck, but the Huskers should be zoned in after last week's finish. USM is heading into its second game under Monken, the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator. Some Eagles have been to Lincoln before, but that was a 49-20 wipeout last year. Edge: NU

Key matchup: NU defensive line vs. Southern Miss offensive line

A number of Nebraska defensive linemen, including Avery Moss (left) and Vincent Valentine (center), got either their first or most significant playing time as Huskers last week. The reviews were about as mixed as you might expect. Here's the difference Saturday night: Southern Miss likely isn't going to be able to generate the same kind of run game as Wyoming, and quarterback Allan Bridgford probably won't be as slippery as Brett Smith. So the job should be easier for that front four.

Our take

There was some hand-wringing after the close call last week, but we'll give NU a clean slate and see if it can put together a more complete effort. USM, which has lost 13 straight games, committed six turnovers last week, so it has more than its own issues. Gaining some momentum and positive vibes will be a must with UCLA coming next week.

Our prediction: Nebraska 46, Southern Mississippi 23

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

BRT Podcast

Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon analyze the breakdowns in Nebraska’s season-opening win over Wyoming. Nothing seemed to go as planned for the Huskers Saturday. The two Husker beat writers examine what might have caused the close call, while pondering a few possible structural changes NU could make along the way. Click here »

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 »

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

Big Red Today coverage

McKewon: Nebraska's Devine Ozigbo increasingly praised heading into NFL draft — as he should be

It’s a heck of a thing, how a guy who didn’t even start Nebraska’s first three games of the 2018 season might be the highest pick of any Husker in the 2019 NFL draft.

Four-star safety Noa Pola-Gates will keep Husker fans up late Saturday — will they go to bed happy?

Sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Noa Pola-Gates will finally deliver his college decision.

Nebraska A.D. Bill Moos: Husker apparel sales way up thanks to Scott Frost hiring

Nebraska coach Scott Frost has been good for the sale of Husker gear.

Former Husker John Parrella joins Cleveland Browns coaching staff

Former Husker John Parrella was among seven assistants added to the staff of Browns coach Freddie Kitchens on Friday.

Mick Stoltenberg on Nebraska's future: 'These next few years are going to be something special'

Mick Stoltenberg took a lot of pride in being a Husker and a Blackshirt. And now he's finding out that being an alumnus is also something to be excited about.

Riley Moses leaves mark on Fillmore Central, lands dream walk-on opportunity with NU

Concentration, physicality and determination led Riley Moses to success at Fillmore Central, but a brief lapse ended with the Husker walk-on standing over his high school coach.

Huskers set to host two official visitors, including a running back who's 'focused on Nebraska'

On paper, it’d seem Nebraska’s roster is in decent shape for scholarship running backs. But the Huskers this weekend will host one more back on an official visit, and apparently his eyes are all on NU.

Former Husker Jeremiah Sirles signs one-year extension with Buffalo Bills

Former Nebraska offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles signed a one-year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills, the team announced Wednesday.

Nebraska gets plenty of 'way-too-early' hype. Here's what they're saying nationally

Nebraska winning four of its final six games in 2018 is driving national hype.

Pick Six Podcast: Breaking down the Huskers' final recruiting push

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the Jan. 15 episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Junior college running back Dedrick Mills officially signs with Huskers

Maurice Washington officially has more company in the Nebraska football backfield.

Husker signee Ty Robinson lands top-100 ranking; Wandale Robinson rises 37 spots on Rivals

Another 2019 Husker signee became a top-100 recruit when Glibert (Ariz.) Higley defensive end Ty Robinson was rated No. 91 in the country by Rivals, which on Tuesday published its final rankings before the February signing day.

Husker walk-on Luke Reimer turned down South Dakota State to challenge himself at Nebraska

When Luke Reimer left Ashland, Kansas, for Lincoln before his junior year of high school, he didn’t imagine himself as a Husker football recruit. But two years at Lincoln North Star and a desire to push himself changed that.

Walk-on Luke Reimer wants pushed, and Huskers will be happy to oblige

When Luke Reimer left Ashland, Kansas, for Lincoln before his junior year of high school, he didn’t imagine himself as a Husker football recruit. But two years at Lincoln North Star and a desire to push himself changed that.

Signee Spotlight: Powerful Dedrick Mills will complement Nebraska's speedy skill players

The "Signee Spotlight" provides all the information you need on the newest batch of Huskers, including rankings, evaluations and a look at how they landed at Nebraska.

Iowa tight end TJ Hockenson joins 3 other Hawkeyes leaving early for NFL draft

TJ Hockenson, the John Mackey award winner as the nation's best tight end, became the fourth Hawkeye underclassmen to declare early for the NFL draft.

Carriker Chronicles: How long will it take for the Huskers to close the gap on Clemson?

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker discusses what needs to happen for the Huskers to close the gap on Clemson, how long it will take and what realistic expectations are for the next two seasons.

Nebraska targets Miami grad transfer Lawrence Cager, who calls Husker fans 'unmatched'

Nebraska’s search for receivers has taken it to the graduate transfer market and former Miami Hurricane Lawrence Cager. The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Cager could be a big-bodied, red-zone threat the Huskers lack.

Nebraska's 25-year Super Bowl streak is in danger, but two former Huskers have a chance

Here’s a look at the two former Huskers who appear on rosters of playoff teams still in the hunt for a Super Bowl, which includes those on the active roster, practice squad or injured reserve.

Rex Burkhead, one of 2 former Huskers still in NFL playoffs, scores first postseason TD

Former Husker running back Rex Burkhead, playing Sunday in his fifth career NFL playoff game, earned his first postseason touchdown.

Sam McKewon's way-too-early Top 25 for 2019 — and yes, the Huskers are in it

The rich stay rich. A few old traditional powers begin to rise again. And a much-maligned league makes a move in 2019.

Adrian Martinez says Huskers motivated for offseason workouts, using losses as 'fuel' for 2019

Upon returning to campus Monday, Nebraska’s football players had an optional week of weight lifting with strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval. But NU players, quarterback Adrian Martinez said Friday, were ready to get to work right away.

Led by Sean Beckton, Huskers emphasize recruiting in the south, aim to 'go after 'em all'

Husker tight ends coach Sean Beckton — a key connection in Atlanta and throughout the SEC footprint for new head coach Scott Frost — understands the area as well as any NU coach ever has. His philosophy, laid out several…

Zac Taylor could be first former Husker player named NFL head coach since the NFL-AFL merger

Former Husker quarterback Zac Taylor is poised to join an exclusive group.

Rimington winner Garrett Bradbury gets praise from trophy's namesake; ex-Husker also bullish on NU's future

Dave Rimington doesn’t pick the winner of the award named in his honor. But count him among those impressed by North Carolina State’s Garrett Bradbury.

Recruiting: Scott Frost is first Husker coach to visit Columbus Lakeview since 'Solich in 2002'

Nebraska football coach Scott Frost stopped in over the lunch hour. Students at Columbus Lakeview High School went on pause for a minute to process that fact.

Kearney QB Brayden Miller has 'dream' opportunity at Nebraska, but that's not his only option

Brayden Miller called it his dream to play for Nebraska — he received a Husker walk-on offer late last month — but it's not the only option he's considering.

Carriker Chronicles: Frank Solich on being honored by Tom Osborne, memories from NU and more

On Friday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to Husker legend Frank Solich about returning to Nebraska to receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award, memories from his time at NU and much more.

Lincoln Southwest's Nick Leader followed his heart, dad to walk on at Nebraska

For Lincoln Southwest’s Nick Leader, walking on at Nebraska is a family affair. Leader, a Class A honorable mention selection, is following the path his father took. David Leader walked on at Nebraska, then lettered in 1991 and 1992.

Reports: Cincinnati Bengals targeting former Husker QB Zac Taylor for head coach

Former Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor appears likely to join the NFL head coaching ranks.