Game Day: Nebraska vs. McNeese State

Airing it out with Armstrong

With sophomore quarterback Tommy Armstrong, the Nebraska offense looks to keep defenses honest by going deep in the passing game. The air attack is a weapon that coach Bo Pelini believes the Huskers need in their arsenal, especially with an I-back like Ameer Abdullah who would benefit from the distraction it can cause a defense.

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2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. McNeese State rush defense

The Huskers piled up 498 rushing yards in the opener against a more stout defensive line than they’re likely to face in undersized McNeese State. Nebraska’s offensive line gelled well in game one, and Ameer Abdullah was in midseason form. The Cowboys’ front four averages 259 pounds. Look for jumbo Husker sets and power football. Advantage: Nebraska

Nebraska pass offense vs. McNeese State pass defense

While the Huskers’ passing game is still a bit of a work in progress — and McNeese State has size and experience on the back end — it’s hard to see Nebraska’s talent not winning out. The speed differential might be small, but NU shuttles through a ton of wideouts. Advantage: Nebraska

McNeese State rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Even without Randy Gregory — and even if McNeese State has Kansas State transfer Daniel Sams as a gifted runner at quarterback — it’s hard to see the Huskers’ front seven consistently struggling with McNeese State’s run game. The Cowboys weren’t bad — starter Kelvin Bennett averaged 7.2 yards per carry last year — but offensive line depth is iffy.Advantage: Nebraska

McNeese State pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Not many first-time starters at quarterback have a lick of success against a Bo Pelini pass defense. However talented the Cowboys’ wide receivers might be, the Huskers’ matchup zone scheme inevitably makes quarterbacks freeze. Passing quarterback Tyler Bolfing — and Sams, when he’s asked to throw — are probably in for a long day. Advantage: Nebraska

Special teams

Nebraska’s special teams frankly weren’t in week one, aside from making two field goals. The Huskers were sloppy in kickoff coverage and punt returns, and they pursued yet another scholarship long snapper for a reason. The Cowboys returned five punts/kickoffs for touchdowns last year. They’re good at it. Their kicker is a freshman, though. Advantage: McNeese State

Intangibles

Bringing an inexperienced quarterback into Memorial Stadium — or Sams, who’s not very familiar with his own team’s offense — is a bad setup. Nebraska has struggled at times with FCS squads, but only one of 10 games against FCS teams in the past 25 years was truly competitive. Advantage: Nebraska

Key matchup: Nebraska's offensive line vs. McNeese State's front seven

If the Huskers play like they did in the Florida Atlantic game — and don’t get thrown off by any of the Cowboys’ stunts or tricks — Ameer Abdullah, quarterback Tommy Armstrong and running backs Terrell Newby and Imani Cross are in for big days. McNeese can be as good as it wants on offense, but if Nebraska runs the ball well, it’ll control the pace and possession, period.

Our take

Let’s skip the preamble: Nebraska should roll here. Is McNeese probably as talented as Florida Atlantic? Yes. Will the Cowboys keep the game closer? Most likely. But the Huskers have a significant physical advantage. They’ll use it. Our score is an average of the 10 previous FCS games NU has played in the past 25 years.

Our prediction: Nebraska 49, McNeese State 10

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Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

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Game notes

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

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