Game Day: Nebraska vs. UCLA

Will Nebraska rise from its slumber?

Rewind, for a second, to kickoff on Black Friday and an electric crowd inside Memorial Stadium. Nebraska, which had roused its moribund, frustrating season with an upset win over Michigan State, had a fine shot at upending undefeated Iowa. Within the NU program, coaches and players were confident, especially after a bye week of preparation, that Iowa would have to play its best game to escape with a win.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Rich Kaipust

Nebraska rush offense vs. UCLA rush defense

One of the disappointments this season has been the Huskers’ inability to run the ball consistently or with regular authority. The worst of it came in back-to-back games against Northwestern and Purdue, resulting in NU throwing 48 passes in both. But the UCLA defense ranks No. 88 nationally in rushing yards allowed (187.8 per game) and has been dented by injuries.

Nebraska pass offense vs. UCLA pass defense

Nebraska can look good when things are going well, and several Husker receivers had big regular seasons as Tommy Armstrong passed for 2,856 yards and 21 touchdowns. The bugaboo has been interceptions, and Armstrong threw 10 of his 16 in his last four starts. UCLA picked off 12 passes this season, and opponents completed just 56.8 percent of their throws.

UCLA rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

UCLA isn’t one-dimensional, and Paul Perkins’ success the last two seasons backs that up. Perkins averages 5.7 yards per carry and makes defenses pay for missed tackles. Nebraska, however, stayed solid against the run most of the season and went into bowl season No. 8 nationally in rushing defense at 113.4 yards per game. The Huskers also have all their pieces back.

UCLA pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Only two freshmen this season threw for more than the 3,350 yards by quarterback Josh Rosen, who was an immediate good fit for the Noel Mazzone offense. The Bruins also have one receiver with 1,068 yards (Jordan Payton) and another with 10 TDs (Thomas Duarte). Nebraska watched six of its first seven opponents throw for 300 yards or more.

Special teams

UCLA has the Lou Groza Award winner with kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has made 38 of 45 field goals his last two seasons. Nebraska answers with Drew Brown, successful on his last 10 field goals and now 13 of 17 from 40-plus yards. Give NU a solid edge at punter with Sam Foltz (44.4-yard average), but UCLA has the bigger return threat with Devin Fuller.

Intangibles

Motivation will be hard to gauge until the game gets rolling, but UCLA obviously had some higher hopes after being ranked as high as No. 7, and Nebraska is simply fortunate to be playing after a 5-7 season. The Bruins should have the crowd edge and play more regularly on natural grass. Both teams have issues with penalties, but UCLA has a huge edge with turnovers.

Key matchup: UCLA receivers vs. Nebraska cornerbacks

One thing that became clear late in the season and into December is that Nebraska has found its 2016 cornerbacks with Josh Kalu and Chris Jones. Those two now face good final tests to their sophomore seasons, matching up with Jordan Payton, Thomas Duarte and company — with Josh Rosen trying to find them.

Our take

Nebraska is 3-4 against the Pac-12 since 2009, but the talent of this UCLA team is closer to the Bruin squad that beat it in 2012 and ’13 and the USC unit that hung 45 on it last year. NU will have to put up some points, but its defensive effort against a fast-paced UCLA offense likely will be the determining factor.

Our prediction: UCLA 38, NEBRASKA 27

Live updates

Photos

World-Herald fan photos »

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Live: TBL pregame, postgame

"The Bottom Line" pregame show with Mike’l Severe will start broadcasting live at 6:30 p.m. Friday, then tune in after the game for a complete breakdown and call-in show with Mike'l and Joe Ganz. Click here »

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-UCLA matchup provided by the NU 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 A.D. Bill Moos wants to 'get the CFP straightened out' by expanding to eight teams

Moos says the selection committee has to better follow its protocol to measure playoff-worthy teams.

Alcohol in Memorial Stadium? Husker A.D. Bill Moos considers allowing it in some areas

Moos knows there isn’t anything broken with the Memorial Stadium fan experience, but he wants to stay ahead of the curve.

Carlos and Khalil Davis are double trouble on Nebraska's defensive line — and in the discus ring

The Davis twins have loved their time at Nebraska and laud NU’s willingness to let two 300-pounders find their way, throw some discus and sack some quarterbacks.

Carriker Chronicles: Ralph Brown on how the Blackshirts can improve, Lamar Jackson's growth and more

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to former Blackshirt Ralph Brown about how the Huskers can improve on defense, how the defensive secondary can get better in 2019, Lamar Jackson growing into a leader, Nebraska memories and much more.

Former Husker outside linebacker Breon Dixon will transfer to Iowa Western

Former Nebraska outside linebacker Breon Dixon will transfer to Iowa Western Community College, Reivers coach Scott Strohmeier confirmed Tuesday night.

Recruiting: Iowa Western defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey eyeing visit to Nebraska

Iowa Western Community College defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey has offers from several of college football's giants — including Nebraska.

Former Husker Ndamukong Suh signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Once one of the highest paid players in the league, Suh went more than two months as a free agent before finding a new team.

Dedrick Mills officially admitted to Nebraska, ready 'to get to work' in Husker RB race

Mills is now admitted to the school. He'll arrive Wednesday and immediately get to work.

Carriker Chronicles: Could the Big Ten get left out of the College Football Playoff again?

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker breaks down the race for the College Football Playoff following spring practices and give his four-team prediction for 2019.

McKewon: Illinois coach Lovie Smith needs a quarterback and an improved defense

Lovie Smith and quarterbacks? They don’t go well together.

McKewon: Big Ten standings show improvement, but Bill Moos' rebuild of Husker athletics continues

The final standings are in and roughly half of Nebraska’s teams met Moos’ base standard of finishing in the top half of the Big Ten this season.

Receiver Demariyon Houston can run a 10.71 100 meters; soon he hopes to blaze trail with Huskers

Demariyon Houston, out of Oklahoma City's Millwood High, is a 100- and 200-meter champ. He also has great hands, maybe his biggest asset in college. Not to mention he was class president. He will be the first in his immediate…

Husker signee Dedrick Mills still aiming for May arrival to Nebraska

Nebraska running back signee Dedrick Mills said on Saturday that his grades from Garden City (Kansas) Community College are in, NU is reviewing his transcript and he believes he will be in Lincoln this week — perhaps by Tuesday.

McKewon: Football players get harsh lesson on NCAA transfer portal's unexpected reality

In less than a year, the NCAA’s transfer portal is already beginning to turn against the student-athletes it was supposed to help.

Big Ten makes more money than any conference ever has — and Nebraska reaps the benefits

According to a Wednesday report from USA Today, the league had nearly $759 million in revenue for the 2018 fiscal year.

Carriker Chronicles: A way-too-early preview of the Nebraska-Colorado game

On Friday's episode, Adam Carriker gives his way-too-early, just-for-fun preview of September's Nebraska-Colorado game.

Husker A.D. Bill Moos talks stadium expansion, improvement and basketball roster on radio show

Bill Moos wants to improve Memorial Stadium. But he won't expand it. The athletic director spoke for the final time of the 2018-2019 school year on Wednesday night. Moos said there is currently a proposal out there to put in…

Former Husker safety Cam'ron Jones lands at SMU

Former Husker safety Cam'ron Jones, who announced last month he's leaving Nebraska, is headed back to Texas.

Husker notes: Nebraska could see change in number of early kickoffs; NCAA to study player compensation

Fox announced this week it would place the best game from its weekly college football menu in the 11 a.m. CT slot.

Carriker Chronicles: When should kids start playing tackle football?

On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker shares his thoughts on kids playing tackle football, what age range they should start playing, flag football and more.

Pick Six Podcast: Husker baseball on bubble; Hoiberg's roster turnover; Football position rankings

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

NU commit Noa Pola-Gates will train to play multiple positions, but views safety as his ‘niche’

When Noa Pola-Gates arrives in late May, it’s possible he could get trained at every position — defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has indicated that each of NU’s incoming defensive backs is versatile enough to do so — but he…

Former Huskers Jerald Foster, Freedom Akinmoladun sign with NFL teams after rookie tryouts

Offensive lineman Jerald Foster signed a deal Sunday with the Washington Redskins, and defensive lineman Freedom Akinmoladun inked with the New York Giants on Monday.

Public defender assigned in Maurice Washington case; plea hearing scheduled for June

Despite earlier reports that Washington entered not guilty pleas when he waived formal arraignment during an April hearing, there have not been any pleas entered in the case, said a Santa Clara County Superior Court spokesperson.

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.

Scott Frost talks culture, Jovan Dewitt's recovery during national radio show

Football coaches like to talk about culture, so much that it becomes a cliche. But it's still true that culture matters, and it's important to Scott Frost.

Carriker Chronicles: What are realistic expectations for the Blackshirts in 2019?

On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker talks about the youth on the Husker defense, their off-season additions and what realistic expectations are for the Blackshirts in 2019.

Husker football adds grad transfer Kanawai Noa, who could help fill need at X receiver

The 6-foot, 185-pounder had 96 career catches for 1,237 yards and six touchdowns over three-plus seasons at Cal.

McKewon: Three takes on Nebraska's graduate transfer commit Kanawai Noa

Nebraska received a graduate transfer commit Sunday from California’s Kanawai Noa.Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 185-pounder.

Husker running back Maurice Washington has second court date today. Here's what to expect

Nebraska running back Maurice Washington is set for his second appearance in a California court for charges filed against him in February.