Game Day: Nebraska vs. BYU

Question 'N' Answer

Nebraska’s season opener against BYU is a bit of a mystery to most who follow the program. The first game always carries a degree of uncertainty, but there is reason for the NU fan base’s feelings weighing more toward anxiety than optimism: plenty of unanswered questions.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. BYU rush defense

Few will be under a more watchful eye than Terrell Newby and the Husker I-backs, who face the challenge of replacing the production of second-round NFL draft pick Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska also has four new starters on the offensive line after ranking No. 19 last season in rushing offense (240.2 yards per game). Quarterback Tommy Armstrong will still be involved in the run game, but how much?

Nebraska pass offense vs. BYU pass defense

It’s safe to assume the ball will be in the air more often this season, which puts an onus on Armstrong improving his accuracy (52.9 career completion percentage) and limiting interceptions. The junior threw seven touchdown passes in his last two games of 2014, however, and hit USC for 381 yards in the Holiday Bowl. BYU tied for No. 114 nationally in pass defense last season by allowing 269.7 yards per game, although it saw an average of 42.2 attempts a week.

BYU rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

Running quarterbacks make teams hard to defend, and BYU has one of the best with senior Taysom Hill. Nebraska will have to find a good mix of containing Hill and tackling him in space, so a team effort. The Cougars do lack an accomplished tailback, stung by the departure of 2014 leading rusher Jamaal Williams last month, but NU ranked just No. 80 in rushing defense last season (177.9 yards a game).

BYU pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

There is talk of the Cougars throwing it a little more to limit the pounding that Hill takes, and they already were fairly efficient last season (278.7 yards per game, 59.8 completion percentage). Nebraska has to replace some of the pass-rushing oomph supplied by Randy Gregory, and will have new starters at cornerback and safety.

Special teams

Mike Riley brought Bruce Read with him from Oregon State to coach special teams at NU, and Read had the good fortune of inheriting punter Sam Foltz and kicker Drew Brown. The Huskers did take a huge hit with the injury to punt returner De’Mornay Pierson-El, though, and BYU was among the nation’s best last season in net punting at 41.2 yards. The Cougars aren’t particularly good in their return games.

Intangibles

Nebraska is banking on cleaning up some things with Riley in charge, and there should be a level of enthusiasm as his debut comes before a Memorial Stadium crowd of 90,000-plus. BYU won’t be intimidated by the noise or venue in a season that also includes trips to UCLA and Michigan in September. Both teams had negative turnover margins a year ago, but BYU took about 30 more yards in penalties a game. Nebraska also hasn’t lost a season-opening game since 1985.

Key matchup: Nebraska offensive line vs. BYU defensive front

There will be some unknown when it comes to the Nebraska offensive line vs. the BYU defensive front. Take out left tackle Alex Lewis and the Huskers’ other four No. 1's have two career starts between them. The Cougars will test them with stunts and a mix of three- and four-man fronts, and 6-foot-8, 280-pound left end Bronson Kaufusi is capable of mayhem.

Our take

No cupcake for Nebraska to kick off the Mike Riley era, with BYU the toughest opener for the Huskers since hosting No. 24 Oklahoma State in 2003. But the Cougars also have been a five-loss team each of the last three seasons, and not exactly flush with much preseason love in 2015. Look for a decent amount of points to be scored, with NU maybe having a big play or two more in it.

Our prediction: NU 38, BYU 30

Live updates

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will broadcast live Saturday at 1 p.m., then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show. Click here »

Game notes

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

Husker History

Find information on every win, loss and tie in Husker history. With historical World-Herald front pages, photos, stories, key stats and more, our ever-growing Husker History Database is your new home for archiving one of the nation's most tradition-rich programs.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. Plus, look back at historical moments in Nebraska football by following @HuskerHistory on Twitter.

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

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

Nebraska schedules game against FCS program Bethune-Cookman for Oct. 27

Nebraska football has scheduled a game against Bethune-Cookman for Oct. 27 to replace the Akron game that was canceled due to thunderstorms.

Voice from the Grandstand: This is Husker football, not some HGTV renovation show

The "Voice from the Grandstand" is a weekly feature with Tom Shatel that allows fans to ask questions or share their thoughts on the latest local sports news.

Accommodating Huskers' early-morning practices became a fun puzzle for the university

There is a method behind why Nebraska's football team practices early in the morning — and it took some work on the academic side to make it happen.

'Final decision' awaits on Adrian Martinez's playing status, but he's 'really close'

Nebraska coach Scott Frost said quarterback Adrian Martinez is “really close” to playing Saturday at Michigan and will make the trip to Ann Arbor with the team, but NU coaches still have a “final decision” to make on whether he…

Carriker Chronicles: Three things for Husker fans to watch against Michigan, plus Adam's prediction

On Thursday's episode, Adam Carriker breaks down Nebraska's matchup with Michigan and makes his prediction for the game.

Longtime friends and former Husker teammates come together to honor Dan Schmidt for HOF induction

The night was about Dan Schmidt. But for a few hours, five Nebraska boys were back at Memorial Stadium teaming up for something bigger than themselves.

'Run, run, run, bomb': No secret what Michigan wants to do on offense, but can the Huskers stop it?

Jim Harbaugh is sticking to his roots of a run-based West Coast offense with plenty of motions, personnel groupings and pre-snap shifts.

Shatel: Scott Frost’s legendary 1997 speech will be talking point when he returns to Ann Arbor

Writers trying to make deadlines after Nebraska’s 42-17 win over Tennessee in the Orange Bowl looked up from their keyboards to watch the TV sets in the Pro Player Stadium press box. On the screens, CBS reporter Michele Tafoya asked…

Everything Husker fans need to know about the Michigan Wolverines

An in-depth preview of the Michigan Wolverines, with a breakdown of their coach, offense, defense and more.

Lack of depth hurts Husker offensive line; More receivers need to 'step up'

Scott Frost said Monday the Nebraska offensive line wore down late against Troy. O-line coach Greg Austin wishes he could disagree.

Adrian Martinez is 'good to go' for practice, but Huskers prep both quarterbacks for Michigan

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is fully back in practice — wearing a stability brace on his right leg — and position coach Mario Verduzco said the true freshman is “good to go” in NU’s preparation for No. 19 Michigan.

Husker Practice Report: Adrian Martinez a full participant Wednesday; Huskers preparing like 'Rocky'

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez went through the entire practice Wednesday in full pads and participated in every drill, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said.

Pick Six Podcast: Revisiting Nebraska's expectations after an 0-2 start

World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon, Chris Heady and Evan Bland tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the Sept. 19 episode of the Pick Six Podcast.

Mad Chatter: How Tom Osborne and Nebraska barely eluded the biggest voting scandal in college football history

In 1997, Nebraska edged Michigan in the coaches poll and earned a split national championship. What went overlooked was the rogue voter who nearly toppled the system.

Carriker Chronicles: One thing the Huskers need to do to get back on track

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker shares the No. 1 thing the Huskers need to do against Michigan to get back on track.

Husker notes: Aaron Williams earns Blackshirt; Defense faces new challenges and more

Senior safety Aaron Williams was the only additional Nebraska defender to earn a Blackshirt this week, bringing the total to eight as the Huskers enter Big Ten play.

Husker coach Scott Frost is focused on winning now, not waiting for the future

Nebraska's coaching staff remains laser focused on winning now despite an 0-2 start and plenty of patience from the NU fan base, Husker coach Scott Frost said on Tuesday's Big Ten Teleconference.

Husker practice report: New Blackshirt awarded, defense gears for different look in Michigan

Senior safety Aaron Williams was the only additional Nebraska defender to earn a Blackshirt this week, bringing the total to eight as the Huskers enter Big Ten play.

Huskers, Wolverines can agree on prestige. But never the 1997 national champion

Not many matchups feature the pedigree that Nebraska and Michigan present.

Carriker Chronicles: Being a Husker runs in the Bunch family. A conversation with Andrew's dad

Homegrown Husker Q&A: Luke Gifford lives out his dreams as a Nebraska captain

Luke Gifford graduated from Lincoln Southeast and came to Nebraska with his high school teammate and childhood best friend Jerald Foster. Gifford is playing the season as a graduate student and has earned spots on the Brook Berringer and Tom…

Huskers attempting to finalize Oct. 27 game against FCS foe to replace canceled Akron contest

Nothing is official, but Nebraska is trying to finalize this week a 12th game for Oct. 27 that will replace the Sept. 1 contest against Akron that was canceled by thunderstorms.

McKewon: The Big Ten usually beats itself up. Instead it was badgered by nonconference foes

We’ve arrived at the week where a full boat of Big Ten teams get to start beating up on each other. They’ve already done a great job of hurting themselves.

After two losses, Huskers see how little mistakes can make special teams units less than special

Special teams coordinator Jovan Dewitt checks the heart monitor function of his Apple Watch after every game. “Every time we take a special teams snap, my heart rate jumps up to 120, 125,” Dewitt said Tuesday. “True story.”

Prince Amukamara's first interception in three years seals Chicago Bears win on Monday Night Football

Prince Amukamara picked a heck of a time for his first interception in nearly three years.

Mohamed Barry moves on from targeting ejection; Huskers face 'huge task' against Michigan

Mohamed Barry watched the second half of Saturday’s loss to Troy from the video room inside Memorial Stadium. “It was painful not being out there,” said Barry, who was ejected for targeting.

With 0-2 start, Huskers fall to No. 5 on all-time FBS wins chart

Nebraska's 0-2 start has some all-time consequences.

Peyton Newell honored to receive Sam Foltz Memorial Scholarship. 'He was an honorable man'

“It’s such a huge honor to have that award and to be able to be acknowledged for everything Sam represented,” Peyton Newell said. “He was an honorable man. He was trustworthy, he was a leader, he was amazing on and…

Huskers practice with 'intention to be great.' They'll have to be to overcome 18-point line

A win over Michigan might take a "perfect game," Nebraska coach Scott Frost said during Monday's press conference.

Adrian Martinez practiced, but Scott Frost is unsure if Husker QB will play against Michigan

True freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez practiced Monday, but Nebraska coach Scott Frost said his status for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game at Michigan remains unclear.