Nebraska rush offense vs. Tennessee rush defense
The Huskers weren’t always running it well when Tommy Armstrong was healthy. Now, they must find a way to cover for what they lose without the quarterback run threat against an SEC defense. The line has had a month to get healthy, but NU will not only have to open some holes but have I-back Terrell Newby do some of his best work — and he's coming off a minor knee injury. Tennessee, however, gives up 231.7 yards a game and 5.15 per carry.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Tennessee pass defense
NU starts out with one hand tied behind its back, going without its all-time leading passer (Armstrong) and second-most productive receiver in school history (Jordan Westerkamp). The Huskers don’t want to make it any harder on Ryker Fyfe than it needs to be, so that will require some running success and manageable situations. If not, defensive end Derek Barnett and the Vols defensive line will be dictating what happens.
Tennessee rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Vols’ success came and went this season, and having Jalen Hurd walk away in October didn’t help. Alvin Kamara is a breakaway threat, but not a workhorse. Nebraska also will need to contain the threat from quarterback Joshua Dobbs (713 yards, nine TDs). In Nebraska’s last seven games, they allowed 223, 238 and 264 yards in the three losses, and fewer than 100 yards in the four wins. NU can’t afford the big play, which stung it at Iowa.
Tennessee pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
Nebraska is down a key player here, too, with senior safety Nate Gerry ineligible and sophomore Antonio Reed making his first career start. Can Tennessee take advantage? It has a veteran quarterback with Dobbs, and the ability to go down the field with Josh Malone (18.9 yards per reception) and Jauan Jennings (15.3). The Huskers not only will have to find a way to pressure Dobbs but not let him escape the pocket. If he does, that could be trouble.
Tennessee is better almost everywhere, with the exception of Nebraska having a place-kicking edge with Drew Brown. Vols junior Trevor Daniel is one of the nation’s best punters (44.7 yards per kick), and Tennessee is dangerous on both kickoff returns (24.9 yards) and punt returns (11.4). The Husker troubles became such an issue that special teams coordinator Bruce Read was fired after the Iowa game.
Both teams are coming off disappointing efforts against rivals to finish the regular season, with Nebraska getting pounded 40-10 at Iowa and Tennessee blowing a halftime lead and losing 45-34 at Vanderbilt. Both have said all the right things about bowl motivation, but it’s always hard to tell until kickoff. The penalty numbers are similar, but NU is better with turnovers. UT will have a definite home edge in Nashville and Nebraska is just 1-4 against SEC teams in bowl games since 2002.
Key matchup: Tennessee DE Derek Barnett vs. Nebraska OTs Nick Gates and Cole Conrad
All you need to know about Barnett is that he shares the Tennessee school record for sacks with Reggie White. The junior will mix speed and bull rushes, and Nebraska likely will have to give Gates and Conrad some help to slow his charge.
Nebraska knows the value of preparing the right way and playing well in the postseason after the 37-29 win over UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl last year lifted the Huskers’ spirits for the winter. NU will head into this one without the services of three of its most important players, however, so Tennessee can take advantage if the Vols are ready to do so. Can Nebraska score enough to keep pace?
Our prediction: Tennessee 37, Nebraska 27
Big Red Today coverage
Aggressive is how NU's head coach wants his start quarterback to stay going forward.
No comment from Frost on the injury to left tackle Brenden Jaimes, who left the game in the fourth quarter. He said the depth chart indicated the next player up. That would be Broc Bando, who finished the fourth quarter.
For all that has happened to the Huskers in three weeks, everything resets for the upcoming nine-game Big Ten slate.
Scott Frost is ready for the start of Big Ten play, and the Husker coach spent about 17 minutes Monday at his weekly press conference setting the stage for the week.
Coach Scott Frost announced Monday the 5-foot-11, 200-pound defensive back will lose his walk-on status thanks to steady, positive production on and off the field.
Nebraska had its best offensive game of the season with 526 yards in a 44-8 win over Northern Illinois. But coach Scott Frost, in his press conference Monday, said the team can still play a lot better on offense.
It'll be the third straight night game in a row for Nebraska and it'll be the third straight time OSU has played a night game at NU.
Nebraska’s defense held Northern Illinois' offense to six points Saturday. Though it was a MAC team at home under the lights, the Blackshirts want that goal-line stand to burn into your brains. To remind you they’re not here to mess…
This year, the Husker D is the dutiful older brother — figuratively, literally — of the younger, more explosive, more inconsistent offense.
Nebraska is in the market for a kicker in its 2020 class.
Top 10 generally remains unchanged except for Utah taking the No. 9 spot away from Notre Dame who is now in tenth.
Nebraska walked out of Memorial Stadium with a 44-8 victory against Northern Illinois on Saturday, and The World-Herald was there for all of it. Check out our complete coverage of the game.
Frost endured a brutal week. His team blew a 17-point lead to an old rival. And for the first time since he returned to Lincoln on a white horse, Husker fans pointed the finger at him, not his players or…
There are still a lot of questions for Nebraska as we watch an identity take shape. What mattered on Saturday night was that the Huskers provided a resounding answer just when they needed it most.
The body language of offensive players leaving the field gave them away. Finally, they had played something close to a complete game.
A line of men in red — a little fed up, a lot hungry, sensing a chance at blood — bolted toward one of the loneliest, most vulnerable positions on the football field. The punter.
The junior from Elkhorn South was the center of attention on the sideline prior to kickoff between Nebraska and Northern Illinois.
The walk-on safety transfer from Air Force was minding his own business when his name was screamed by a coach on the sideline.
Although Nebraska played one of the cleanest game of the Scott Frost era and beat Northern Illinois 44-8, two key Huskers may have sustained injuries that keep them out of future practice or play.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost spoke for nearly nine minutes breaking down the Huskers' performance against Northern Illinois.
Each week, The World-Herald will track Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez's play game-to-game, including wow plays, turnovers, market indicator and more.
World-Herald staff writer Evan Bland takes a look at Nebraska's effort on both sides of the ball during the Huskers' victory against Northern Illinois.
It was easy for Northern Illinois coach Thomas Hammock to identify what kept the Huskies’ offense from scoring any touchdowns Saturday night against a suddenly stout Nebraska defense.
A closer look at the defining stats and figures from the Huskers' 44-8 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday.
World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel shares his immediate thoughts following the Huskers' 44-8 victory against Northern Illinois.
Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's win over Northern Illinois.
On Saturday's episode, Adam Carriker gives his quick take to Nebraska defeating Northern Illinois.
Nebraska led the game 30-5 at halftime and maintained its lead in the second half as backups got to play in the final minutes.
Nebraska's already-thin depth at tackle may get thinner after starting left tackle Brenden Jaimes was injured in the fourth quarter of the Huskers' game against Northern Illinois.
Northern Illinois had a solid contingent of fans in the stands Saturday, especially in the southern-most corner of West stadium.