Game Day: Nebraska vs. UCLA

Positive spin

When seven AP Top 25 voters got down to the final spots on their ballots last Saturday night, they made the determination that Nebraska wasn't good enough to make the cut. NU's players chose not to touch anything this week that had to do with ratings or respect or national perception. "We'll start getting the national attention when we start winning championships," senior offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles said. "So that's the ultimate goal." With UCLA in town Saturday, the Huskers have high hopes that a win will be a big step toward that objective.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Jon Nyatawa

Nebraska rush offense vs. UCLA rush defense

Only a dozen teams allowed more runs of 30 yards or more last year than the Bruins, who gave up 12. Nebraska averaged 7.2 yards per carry in a 36-30 loss to UCLA last season, but the Huskers ran the ball only 36 times, their lowest total all year. Nebraska's mix of option and power should be enough to counteract the varying alignments from UCLA. Advantage: NU

Nebraska pass offense vs. UCLA pass defense

Assuming NU's running game gets going, the receivers should have room to roam against a young secondary. In UCLA's five losses last year (when teams established the run), the Bruins gave up a 73.2 completion percentage, 9.6 yards per pass play and 10 TDs (two interceptions). The key for Taylor Martinez is to throw when UCLA is thinking run first. Advantage: NU

UCLA rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Of the 12 Huskers expected to rotate at linebacker and on the defensive line, only Jason Ankrah and Thad Randle have extensive experience. And the Huskers are still trying to perfect a system that gave up more yards per carry last year (4.76) than ever before under Bo Pelini. The Bruins' sideline-to-sideline approach tends to create vulnerabilities. Advantage: UCLA

UCLA pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

NU's veterans are in its secondary, but the Huskers have already given up 29 pass plays of 10-plus yards this year (third-worst nationally). QB Brett Hundley was 21 of 33 for 305 yards and four touchdowns against NU last year. Three of the TDs went to guys now in the NFL (Joseph Fauria and Johnathan Franklin), but the Bruins have restocked well. Advantage: UCLA

Special teams

NU has made it a point to redesign many of its units -- most notably on kickoff return, where the Huskers rank sixth nationally behind Kenny Bell. But UCLA has blocked nine kicks under Jim Mora. And the Bruins controlled field position last year vs. NU, when the Huskers' drives started at the 20.5-yard line on average. UCLA began its possessions at the 36.4. Advantage: UCLA

Intangibles

The Huskers are working in new players on defense, but UCLA is young all over. UCLA was only plus-11 in total point differential in seven games away from the Rose Bowl -- but plus-85 in the seven contests at home. Nebraska has won 10 straight at home. Also note the kickoff time: 11 a.m. That's 9 a.m. in L.A. Advantage: NU

Key matchup: UCLA's offense vs. Nebraska's linebackers

Josh Banderas, No. 52, Zaire Anderson, Nate Gerry, No. 25, and Michael Rose had better be ready. They'll be trying to corral UCLA QB Brett Hundley on scrambles and designed runs, attempting to help on the zone read or doing their best to cover running backs in the flats and receivers across the middle. UCLA will most certainly isolate NU's inexperienced linebackers in space. Are they up for the challenge?

Our take

How have UCLA players and coaches prepared for the game while coping with the death of WR Nick Pasquale? Sports can help us heal. But how ready are the Bruins to play? They'll be riding emotions, but can they match NU's focus? The Huskers need this game, for perception, for confidence, for momentum, for pride.

Our prediction: Nebraska 42, UCLA 38

Live updates

 

Videos

Extras

BRT Podcast

In this week's edition of "The Big Red Today Podcast," Jon Nyatawa and Sam McKewon break down the UCLA-Nebraska game before offering their predictions for the weekend's biggest matchups. 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

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-UCLA game provided by the Huskers athletic department. Click here »

Big Red Today coverage

Pick Six Podcast: Is Husker hoops an attractive job? And a spring football update

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

McKewon: Minnesota's P.J. Fleck rows the boat hard to catch up with Nebraska's offensive flash

Minnesota’s offense, which started eight freshmen in its bowl win over Georgia Tech, averaged 5.68 yards per play last season, ranking ninth in the Big Ten. That’s UM’s highest average in a decade.

Former Husker Brent Qvale re-signs with New York Jets

Two yards can make or break Nebraska' offense, so Huskers focus on 'plus-twos'

Ask around the offense, and "plus-twos" are as important as any conventional statistic coaches and players track. Moving a defender two yards can demonstrate a strength advantage and extra effort on an individual level.

Former Husker Ameer Abdullah re-signs with Minnesota Vikings

Former Husker running back Ameer Abdullah re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday.

Carriker Chronicles: If I could bring back any former Husker to play today, here's who I would pick

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker discusses which players in Husker football history he'd most like to bring back to play for Nebraska today, and which one's would fit the current system best.

Monday Rewind: Older, wiser, more urgent Husker defenders set good tone in spring camp

Twenty-one of the 33 upperclassmen scholarship players play defense. And 11 of that 21 are seniors. Big, bold vocal seniors who have played a lot of football. With that experience comes urgency. Wisdom. Responsibility.

Tony Tuioti offers three Husker football scholarships to Hawaiian three-star prospects

The Tony Tuioti effect for Nebraska football recruiting is in full swing.

Husker safety Deontai Williams learning to play smart, while 'putting his pads on people'

Deontai Williams said, he’s the “OG” of the safety group. He’s right, too — he and junior Marquel Dismuke are the veterans while redshirt freshmen Cam’ron Jones and CJ Smith learn and sophomore Cam Taylor bounces among safety, nickel and…

After 'miserable' first season back at Nebraska, Barrett Ruud expects 'big jump' in year two

His boss got all the attention during last fall’s miserable start, but put yourself in Barrett Ruud’s shoes for a moment. Nebraska’s all-time leading tackler returned to his alma mater and hometown in 2018 to coach his old position —…

Carriker Chronicles: If I could change one play in Nebraska football history...

On Friday's episode, Adam Carriker explores some of Nebraska football's hardest losses, and narrows down what one play in Husker history he'd choose to change.

JoJo Domann is finally healthy and Husker coaches are ready to use Cinco's versatility

JoJo Domann is one of Nebraska’s most versatile defenders. And his coaches need an array of colorful language to describe him. Leaning against a wall on the second floor of the Hawks Center, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher said Domann…

Former Nebraska running back Greg Bell transferring to San Diego State

Former Nebraska running back Greg Bell — who left the program four games into the 2018 season — is transferring to his hometown school, San Diego State.

Husker notes: Defensive line finds 'alpha males' in Daniels brothers; Defense creates pass rush

Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti wants a consistent daily mindset from his players, where linemen “press the reset button” after each practice to gear up for the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.

Husker practice report: Defense creating turnovers; Jovan Dewitt discusses battle with cancer

If the first two weeks of spring practices are any indication, Nebraska's defense has some playmakers.

Carriker Chronicles: What Husker fans can expect from the Huskers' D-line during spring football

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker previews the Blackshirts' defensive line personnel for spring football, reasonable expectations for the group and much more.

Cancer can't keep Husker assistant Jovan Dewitt off the practice field

Even if Jovan Dewitt can’t make every meeting — even if, during practice, he has to take a knee and “get some hydration” — he’s going to be at every practice he can.

Recruiting: Iowa D-line commit Logan Jones lands Husker offer

Nebraska has given Logan Jones something to think about. The Council Bluffs Lewis Central defensive lineman tweeted Tuesday he has received a scholarship offer from the Huskers after committing to Iowa last month.

Huskers have a new group of leaders up front. This spring they're finding their voice

It's a spring of transition on the offensive line, which lost several leaders from last year's team. Now a trio of juniors holds that responsibility, and this spring is an important step in their development.

Video: Nebraska spring football practice, March 11

Videos include an interview with Scott Frost, a recap of the the practice by Sam McKewon and Evan Bland and an update on Maurice Washington.

Husker notes: Jaylin Bradley makes most of opportunity; Mike Williams vies for starting spot

Circumstances are aligning for Jaylin Bradley to prove himself. Now coaches are anxious to find out if the running back can.

Husker tight ends need to be a receiving threat. This is how they'll make that happen

Attack. That’s a buzzword for the Husker tight ends this spring. Collectively, they’re the offense's most experienced group. But there’s a higher level the coaches expect these tight ends to reach.

Husker QB coach Mario Verduzco lauds Luke McCaffrey's early progress, Adrian Martinez's velocity

So far, so good for true freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey. Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said McCaffrey, an early enrollee, has done well in spring practices to pick up the offense.

Husker practice report: Nebraska ahead of last year, but competition heavy on offense

Scott Frost doesn't even want to say the Oklahoma word. But the drill Nebraska threw out in front of the media Monday morning did look a whole lot like the infamous Oklahoma drill.

Timeline details Maurice Washington investigation and when Nebraska became aware of it

This timeline of events in the Maurice Washington investigation is based on allegations outlined in court documents, investigator reports and officials' statements.

Sights and sounds from Nebraska football spring practice, March 11

Nebraska was in full pads for its fourth practice of the spring Monday morning. The media were allowed inside practice for the first 30 minutes. Here's what we saw.

Carriker Chronicles: My favorite game in Husker history while skiing down a mountain

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker skis down a mountain and shares the story of his all-time favorite Husker football game.

Husker RB Maurice Washington self-surrenders in California, court date set for April

Husker running back Maurice Washington returned to California over the weekend to self-surrender to authorities, a spokesperson for the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Shatel: Do the high schools need a shot clock? There is no shortage of opinions

This column might be a shot-clock violation. But I received so much feedback from emails and on Twitter last week on the idea of a shot clock in high school basketball that I thought I would spill over into this…

McKewon: Adrian Martinez has shown signs of being a leader, but Scott Frost wants more

Adrian Martinez’s head coach, Scott Frost, wants more. Much more, based on his comments last week. Don’t gloss over them. If Frost is bullish on Martinez’s potential — talking him up as potentially one of the best, if not the…