Nebraska rush offense vs. Northwestern rush defense
According to his handful of Internet critics, Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf doesn't call enough running plays, but the Huskers have run the ball with pop and efficiency this season, as evidenced by 5.35 yards per carry on the ground. Nebraska has found a rhythm to its running back rotation of Terrell Newby, Devine Ozigbo, Imani Cross and Andy Janovich. Northwestern's run defense gives up 4.24 yards per carry — 11th in the Big Ten. Michigan and Iowa proved teams can run right at Northwestern's front seven.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Northwestern pass defense
Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong played his most efficient game at Minnesota, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. The Husker wide receiver corps is close to full strength with the return of De'Mornay Pierson-El. Northwestern's pass defense ranks second in the Big Ten in overall efficiency. The Wildcats are deadly in the red zone, where they've allowed just five completions and intercepted two passes. Nebraska needs its pass game to produce something, but Northwestern, with an experienced secondary, may be the toughest challenge yet.
Northwestern rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
No team in the nation has faced fewer rush attempts per game than Nebraska, which should drop a major hint as to how Northwestern will fare. The Wildcats are most likely to stay committed to the run game — quarterback Clayton Thorson is a mediocre passer at best — but backs Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault are unlikely to get too untracked against a team bent on stopping the run with two defensive tackles — Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine — suited to do it.
Northwestern pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
The Wildcats' fervent desire to prevent Thorson — who was benched in the Iowa game for backup Zack Oliver — means that Northwestern's pass game is limited and mostly a complement to the ground game. But Nebraska's pass defense hasn't bowed up against any other team this year, and Northwestern's collection of receivers — Christian Jones, Miles Shuler, Dan Vitale and Austin Carr are among them — are probably better than what Wisconsin and Minnesota put on the field against the Huskers. Both of those teams topped the 300-yard mark.
This category almost always tends to favor the team with more depth and talent, which means that it will favor Nebraska. The Huskers' punt and kickoff coverage — aided by punter Sam Foltz and kicker Drew Brown — have been solid, but the return units have been inconsistent-to-awful, especially on kickoff returns. Northwestern kick returner Solomon Vault is dangerous. The Wildcats' punter, Hunter Niswander, gets good hangtime on his punts, often forcing returners into fair catches.
Which team is hungrier to win? Well, Northwestern, which is coming off of two humiliating losses. The Wildcats know why they lost so badly to Michigan and Iowa and are determined to reverse the trend. For whatever reason, Nebraska has been a hot-and-cold team — often in the same game — in 11 a.m. starts. The Husker crowd should be juiced for alternate uniforms. Of course, they didn't do Northwestern much good in 2012 and 2014, when the Wildcats wore them against the Huskers.
Key matchup: Northwestern's offensive line vs. Nebraska's defensive line
Of all the teams Nebraska will face, Northwestern is the least likely to take advantage of the Huskers' bad pass defense. The Wildcats have to run the ball well on first and second down or face the consequences. But if they do, Nebraska's defense could be in for a long day.
This game seems like a trap for Nebraska. The opponent is hungry and stingy against the pass. Nebraska has just won a game and is perhaps looking to build on that momentum. Further, there's a sense that Husker coaches are worried — perhaps too worried — about Northwestern's run defense in a way that makes you wonder if Nebraska will try to pass too much. But the Wildcats are not a hard bunch to figure out. Stop the run, force the pass, grind clock, go home with a win. We'll bet on Nebraska doing that — just barely.
Our prediction: Nebraska 24, Northwestern 20
Big Red Today coverage
Nebraska and Purdue faced off as conference opponents for the first time in 2013, which ignited what will be at least 13 consecutive seasons with one another on the schedule. But 2013 wasn't the first overall matchup. Nope, that came…
We wrote this story out of Minnesota in 2013 and 2017, too. The names change. The clichés, too, a little bit. And even if it’s supposed to be different under Scott Frost — even if, one day, it is —…
Time and again, opposing coaches see Nebraska step off the bus and wonder if they can run the ball on them. And then they do.
Scott Frost had one hand in his pocket, and the other one was carrying a playsheet. And nothing was fine for the Nebraska football coach.
P.J. Fleck just shoved his oar right down Nebraska’s throat. People like to laugh at Fleck, the Minnesota football coach, saying he’s a huckster and a fake. Well, there was nothing fake about what Fleck’s Gophers did to Nebraska on…
The blank faces said it all. By the time Nebraska defenders trudged off the cold and misty field at TCF Bank Stadium, they had already processed much of the carnage. A 20-point third quarter that blew the doors off a…
A closer look at the defining stats and figures from the Huskers' loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
Minnesota carved up Nebraska’s defense with its run game Saturday night because it spotted soft spots disguised as strengths.
World-Herald staff writer Chris Heady takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' loss to Minnesota.
Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Minnesota.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is not suited up for the game an hour ahead of kickoff and will not play against Minnesota.
Some regents say it’s a win for Nebraska to bring Hank Bounds back because he is a good fundraiser who knows and cares about the projects involved. Some observers say they are perplexed by the amount he will receive, and…
The Huskers think a strong second half is coming. Their counterparts in Minneapolis have already experienced it.
Noah Vedral knows the offense back and forward. We haven’t seen a lot of his game. He got in one game last year. And then last week. That’s the beauty of it, too. There isn’t a lot of film of…
Fremont senior Keegan Menning added his name to the list of walk-ons in Nebraska’s 2020 class on Thursday night.
“It’s an awesome rule,” said Luke McCaffrey, who’s drawn raves from coaches and teammates while he redshirts and works to push Adrian Martinez for the starting role next season. “I think it’s fantastic.”
Mohamed Barry was named a quarterfinalist for the 2019 Lott Trophy, which recognizes a player who made the biggest impact on his team both on and off the field.
If it’s Christmas weather — 32 degrees — for Nebraska’s Saturday night game at Minnesota, well, Scott Frost can’t think anything much better.
While Nebraska's travel roster is rounding into form, the status of players at multiple key positions remains unclear.
"I just thought that I was on a different planet almost," she told The World-Herald. "It was a special place to be."
“Defensively, they’re a lot more sound than what we saw last year and more athletic," Scott Frost said. "They’ve definitely improved. You can tell it’s year three of his tenure up there. They’re starting to look like the team he…
Weather, smeather. That was more or less the reaction from Nebraska offensive coaches Tuesday when probed about how they might adjust preparations for Saturday night's game at Minnesota that calls for temperatures in the mid-30s and a good chance of…
They've given you lifelong memories, permanent heartache, everlasting glee and eternal suffering.
Encouraging news this morning from Husker football practice. Adrian Martinez (knee) and JD Spielman (undisclosed) were both in pads for practice Wednesday.
Earlier this week, I called Matt Turman to talk about his nephew, Noah Vedral, waiting and getting that big moment. But as we talked, it hit me that there's a bigger story. The story about the small, small world of…
Nebraska has dominated Minnesota since 1963, claiming 19 of 22 games. But the Gophers have the all-time edge.
For Nebraska’s program to be full blast again, the A.D. says it will take two more recruiting classes and two more years of developing a walk-on program.
Nebraska received a commitment Tuesday from Miami Northwestern defensive back Ronald Delancy. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 165-pounder.
Inside linebacker Mohamed Barry doesn’t usually concern himself much with wide receivers. This week, he’s at full attention.
Credit Scott Frost and his staff for squeezing just enough of true freshman Wan’Dale Robinson, Martinez and backup quarterback Noah Vedral to win against a defense that had given up three plays of 30 yards or more heading into the…