Nebraska rush offense vs. Troy rush defense
Troy has had a top 25 run defense nationally the last two seasons in yards allowed per carry and per game. That’s good for any league, especially the Sun Belt. Only three teams since 2016 have run for more than 200 yards on the Trojans, and NU will be challenged to do so if quarterback Adrian Martinez doesn’t play. Martinez is a game-changer in the run game. Backup Andrew Bunch can occasionally sneak in a 10-yard run but won't likely bust off a 40-yarder. NU’s top three running backs — Greg Bell, Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington — each had their moments against Colorado. Troy’s linebackers — anchored by “bandit” Hunter Reese and inside linebacker Tron Folsom — are active and swarm to the ball. Troy’s defensive line is a little undersized, but aggressive. This game will be a challenge for NU, but it did just rack up 329 rushing yards against the Buffs.
Nebraska pass offense vs. Troy pass defense
Martinez and Bunch are equally capable passers, and Bunch may throw the touch pass a bit better than the true freshman. Troy’s risk/reward defense leaves it a little vulnerable to the big play, evident in the 8.9 yards allowed per pass through two games. Troy defensive coordinator Vic Koenning likes to hunt the passer — 42 sacks last season — but if NU’s offensive line can protect well, opportunities for receivers Stanley Morgan, JD Spielman, Mike Williams and Tyjon Lindsey should be there. Look for tight ends Kurt Rafdal, Austin Allen and Jack Stoll to get in the mix, too.
Troy rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense
The Huskers’ front seven dominated Colorado, stuffing tailbacks and making life tough for quarterback Steven Montez. The depth and aggression of NU’s front seven bodes well for the Troy game, as the Trojan offensive line lacks the size and athleticism of Colorado’s. Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker is a threat to run, and the Trojans will occasionally design plays for him. Nebraska has made stopping the run a priority and that won’t change here.
Troy pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense
Barker will be playing in the toughest atmosphere of his career. He didn’t lead Troy to an upset at LSU last year. Another guy who's no longer at the school did that. And while the Trojans have above-average receivers for a Group of Five conference — Deondre Douglas among them — Nebraska should be able to lock them up well enough for the Huskers’ pass rush to get home. Look for a few turnovers, too.
Nebraska did nothing worth writing home about last week. Just the opposite. A missed field goal, four special teams penalties, mediocrity across the board. Troy wasn’t much better in two home games. Hard to find an edge here, aside from NU having slightly better athletes and the home-field advantage.
Usually, the big, bad home team with all the history gets some sort of bump in a game like this. But Troy nearly beat Clemson in 2016. It did beat LSU last year. Troy’s not worried about playing at Nebraska. It surely relishes and welcomes the opportunity. NU, on the other hand, has to be hungry for a first win. Who wouldn’t be after the way the Colorado game ended? The resolve and certitude of Husker captains may be worth something, even in an 11 a.m. start. Nebraska’s new morning practice regimen will help.
Key matchup: Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker vs. Nebraska’s secondary
If Troy can’t score, it’s going to be hard to pull off any kind of upset. That means, if Nebraska shuts down Troy’s run game — and you can count on it — the 6-foot-1, 206-pound Barker will have to throw for the Trojans to win. How much difference, really, is there between Barker and Bunch? Not much. NU’s secondary needs to make Barker, who's making his third career start, pay for any mistakes.
Nebraska not only has to win this game, it can’t lose it. Seem like a Yogi Berra quote? Think about it: When NU lost last year to Northern Illinois, it outgained the Huskies by 171 yards. The difference was two interceptions returned for touchdowns. Troy will need a similar path to victory in Lincoln. If Nebraska doesn’t gift-wrap touchdowns to the Trojans, the Husker defense should do its job. Coach Scott Frost should win his first career game.
Our prediction: NEBRASKA 24 TROY 14
Big Red Today coverage
A breakdown of everything you need to know about the Huskers' recruiting efforts, as things are about to heat up for the 2020 class.
On Friday's episode, Adam Carriker takes a look at Nebraska's wide receiver and tight end depth charts in search of potential breakout players who could complement JD Spielman.
Lincoln Southeast’s Grant Detlefsen hopes to be next successful in-state walk-on punter, joining the likes of Alex Henery, Brett Maher, Sam Koch and Sam Foltz.
Cam Taylor's smile is one thing. The way he reacts after big plays is another. But his enthusiasm, coaches and teammates say, is what’s contagious.
In early March, NU offered three 6-foot-2 juco corners in five days. The Huskers — who graduate corners Lamar Jackson, Eric Lee and Avery Anderson after 2019 — are keen on adding more competition at the position.
Former Nebraska offensive linemen Spencer Long and Jeremiah Sirles are among those hosting a Thursday evening dinner in Schuyler for victims of statewide floods, first responders and volunteers.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks about why Devine Ozigbo was his favorite Husker to watch last season, why he was a perfect example of the Nebraska way and is a name to watch heading into the NFL draft.
World-Herald staff writers Sam McKewon and Chris Heady tackle the hottest Husker headlines in the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast.
Minnesota’s offense, which started eight freshmen in its bowl win over Georgia Tech, averaged 5.68 yards per play last season, ranking ninth in the Big Ten. That’s UM’s highest average in a decade.
Ask around the offense, and "plus-twos" are as important as any conventional statistic coaches and players track. Moving a defender two yards can demonstrate a strength advantage and extra effort on an individual level.
Former Husker running back Ameer Abdullah re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday.
On Monday's episode, Adam Carriker discusses which players in Husker football history he'd most like to bring back to play for Nebraska today, and which one's would fit the current system best.
Twenty-one of the 33 upperclassmen scholarship players play defense. And 11 of that 21 are seniors. Big, bold vocal seniors who have played a lot of football. With that experience comes urgency. Wisdom. Responsibility.
The Tony Tuioti effect for Nebraska football recruiting is in full swing.
Deontai Williams said, he’s the “OG” of the safety group. He’s right, too — he and junior Marquel Dismuke are the veterans while redshirt freshmen Cam’ron Jones and CJ Smith learn and sophomore Cam Taylor bounces among safety, nickel and…
His boss got all the attention during last fall’s miserable start, but put yourself in Barrett Ruud’s shoes for a moment. Nebraska’s all-time leading tackler returned to his alma mater and hometown in 2018 to coach his old position —…
On Friday's episode, Adam Carriker explores some of Nebraska football's hardest losses, and narrows down what one play in Husker history he'd choose to change.
JoJo Domann is one of Nebraska’s most versatile defenders. And his coaches need an array of colorful language to describe him. Leaning against a wall on the second floor of the Hawks Center, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher said Domann…
Former Nebraska running back Greg Bell — who left the program four games into the 2018 season — is transferring to his hometown school, San Diego State.
Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti wants a consistent daily mindset from his players, where linemen “press the reset button” after each practice to gear up for the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.
If the first two weeks of spring practices are any indication, Nebraska's defense has some playmakers.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker previews the Blackshirts' defensive line personnel for spring football, reasonable expectations for the group and much more.
Even if Jovan Dewitt can’t make every meeting — even if, during practice, he has to take a knee and “get some hydration” — he’s going to be at every practice he can.
Nebraska has given Logan Jones something to think about. The Council Bluffs Lewis Central defensive lineman tweeted Tuesday he has received a scholarship offer from the Huskers after committing to Iowa last month.
It's a spring of transition on the offensive line, which lost several leaders from last year's team. Now a trio of juniors holds that responsibility, and this spring is an important step in their development.
Videos include an interview with Scott Frost, a recap of the the practice by Sam McKewon and Evan Bland and an update on Maurice Washington.
Circumstances are aligning for Jaylin Bradley to prove himself. Now coaches are anxious to find out if the running back can.
Attack. That’s a buzzword for the Husker tight ends this spring. Collectively, they’re the offense's most experienced group. But there’s a higher level the coaches expect these tight ends to reach.
So far, so good for true freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey. Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said McCaffrey, an early enrollee, has done well in spring practices to pick up the offense.