Nebraska rush offense vs. Oregon rush defense
Nebraska doesn’t just want to run the ball effectively against the Ducks' 3-4 front, it must to help control the clock and keep the ball away from Oregon’s explosive offense. The Huskers ran for 225 yards and 5.92 yards per carry against Arkansas State, relying mostly on running back Tre Bryant (31 carries, 192 yards) behind pulling linemen. NU may have to be more diverse with its rotation of backs and perhaps even sprinkle in a sneaky read option keeper with quarterback Tanner Lee. The Ducks’ defense, under the coordination of Jim Leavitt, will shoot its linebackers and try to stuff NU at the point of attack. The Huskers need tight end Connor Ketter and the left side of the line to play another big game.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Oregon pass defense
Are bubble screens runs or passes? We’ll put them under passes and suggest that, against Leavitt’s defense, Nebraska will run a few of them. Oregon is young in the secondary, and the Ducks will put a priority on stopping the run and forcing Lee, in the toughest road start of his career, to make throws in a loud crowd and smoky skies. Tight end Tyler Hoppes and slot receiver JD Spielman — Lee’s primary inside pass-catcher — could get a lot of looks in this game. Stanley Morgan caught two long passes against Arkansas State; can he grab a few more at Oregon?
Oregon rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Ducks have one of the top backfields in college football with Royce Freeman, Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James. All three — certainly Freeman — would start at Nebraska. Oregon’s run game is diverse — quarterback Justin Herbert gets into the action, too — and with the pace the Ducks like to use, it's hard to slow down. Oregon will try to spread out NU’s defense like Arkansas State did but is more likely to stick to the run. NU defensive coordinator Bob Diaco likes to rotate players quite a bit, which is hard when an up-tempo team goes fast and keeps running. Not a good matchup for the Huskers on paper.
Oregon pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
Because Oregon will commit harder to the run than Arkansas State did, it’s hard to see Nebraska’s outside linebackers 10 yards outside the box playing the slant pass and effectively slowing down the run at the same time. Diaco has to get at least a little exotic, right? Herbert, Oregon’s quarterback, has a lot of talent and a big arm, but his mechanics can get sloppy when he throws downfield. Much like Arkansas State, the Ducks like their bubble screens and will throw them if the matchup is favorable. UO tight end Jacob Breeland is a 6-foot-5, 241-pound matchup issue and Charles Nelson — 97 career catches — is a speedster.
Both teams returned kickoffs for touchdowns in their first games. Oregon’s punt returner, Nelson, is also dangerous. Both kickoff coverage units were stingy in Game 1, and both teams’ kickers have talent; Oregon’s Aiden Schneider has only missed six field goals in his career while Nebraska’s Drew Brown has missed just eight in the last three seasons. If the slight edge goes to Oregon, it’s probably in having a little more team speed on its special teams units and NU punter Caleb Lightbourn having to punt on the road. Still, Nebraska can win this phase.
The Ducks get this game at Autzen Stadium, where Big Ten teams rarely visit and rarely win. Oregon’s new coach, Willie Taggart, has a team that bought all in to his style and approach to coaching, and the vibe Oregon once had is back. Are the team’s winning ways back as well? Harder to say. But Oregon is a 14-point favorite in part because this game is in its ballpark and Nebraska has a young, inexperienced team that wobbled a bit in its opener.
Key matchup: Oregon's run game vs. NU's defense and Bob Diaco's scheme
After Diaco’s passive defensive scheme in the opener, can we really guess at his plan for Oregon? No. Not really. It might be very similar. It might be a wild departure. It might be hybrid. But, one way or the other, Nebraska has to slow down Oregon’s run game. Do that, and the Huskers might be able to get an interception or two off of Herbert, who is not Marcus Mariota by any stretch. NU’s chances to win start with stopping the Ducks on the ground.
Nebraska’s Big Ten hopes and dreams do not live or die with this game at Oregon. Does that sound like a lack of confidence? To some degree, it is; the Ducks, in Autzen, are a tough matchup even if they’re barely a top-25 team. Nebraska didn’t look like a top-25 squad against Arkansas State, and it’ll have to play a clean game to win. Fewer penalties, fewer turnovers, and an eye toward controlling the game clock. Still, expect Mike Riley’s crew to be ready. The ol’ ball coach wants this game — perhaps more than he’ll admit — and his staff, including Diaco, has been preparing for it. If Nebraska falls a little short, it still needs to be competitive. We expect they will be.
Our prediction: OREGON 38, NEBRASKA 31
Big Red Today coverage
Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2020 recruiting class won’t have to be pointed to the weight room.
On Saturday's episode, Adam Carriker discusses the second year under Scott Frost, whether or not the Huskers can make a leap in success and how the return of Husker power will help.
Redshirt freshman center Cam Jurgens, previously limited in training camp due to an undisclosed injury, was back at full speed this week, coach Scott Frost said, and now appears headed for the No. 1 spot on the NU depth chart.
Any examination — any obituary for the glory years — must include the factor that unites the Callahan, Pelini and Riley eras.
Husker quarterback Adrian Martinez phoned into the Jim Rome Show Friday.
Nebraska has a new leader at center.
Trent Hixson was already trending toward starting at left guard this season. Now he'll do so as a scholarship player.
Pierson-El hauled in a key touchdown pass from Nathan Peterman with 5:48 left in the fourth quarter, one of his six receptions in the game.
Most of Colorado's home game tickets start at $40 for seats in the end zone and top out around $135 near midfield. But prices are driven by fan interest. And interest is high for the renewed rivalry ticket.
With the season opener barely more than a week away, signs point to McQuitty as a contributor.
2019 is the kind of season in the Big Ten West where you predict in pencil, not ink, and you keep a fat, pink eraser on your desk.
Morrison becomes the ninth commit in the Huskers' latest recruiting cycle and the first in more than six weeks.
Three quick takes on the decision from the 6-foot, 201-pound three-star prospect.
The money Nebraska spends on recruiting its football and men’s basketball student-athletes has increased dramatically in the last five years, according a study released Thursday morning by the USA Today Network. Some teams in the Big Ten have juiced their…
A depth chart for the Nebraska running backs coach can look one way before the season. But by October it may be completely different based on what players show in games.
Nebraska began preparations for South Alabama on Wednesday, which means the offensive depth chart is close to final.
Players like Casey Rogers know they are part of the next group up.
Nebraska and Notre Dame are tied for fifth with 897 wins apiece, and Oklahoma sits one game back at 896.
The expectation at Nebraska should be a team that is well-coached, plays physical and plays hard. A team always held to a high standard. Do that and the other stuff will fall into place. Are expectations in place? Not yet,…
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.
The Big Ten Network made its annual bus tour stop in Lincoln on Monday, and the reactions were almost unanimously positive.
Check out all the video from Monday's Huskers fall football practice as compiled by The World-Herald.
On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker shares his thoughts on the alternate uniforms Nebraska will wear during the 2019 season.
Chinander finds no fault with the effort and passion of his defense this training camp.
Nebraska is officially a top-25 team again.
Here's how Sam McKewon voted in his preseason AP Top 25 ballot for the college football season.
Three Nebraska football players who have been cited on suspicion of possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia have yet to be charged in Lancaster County Court because of prosecutors’ concerns about an industrial hemp bill recently passed in the Nebraska…
Highly motivated Huskers are loving practice, even as dog days of summer set in.