Game Day: Nebraska vs. Maryland

Quite the trek

The Huskers have never played in College Park, but on Saturday Nebraska — 4-6 and needing two wins to make a bowl — hits its final Big Ten outpost.

READ MORE »

2-Minute Drill by Sam McKewon

Nebraska rush offense vs. Maryland rush defense

Nebraska found a groove against Wisconsin, ripping off 273 rushing yards. Dedrick Mills had a career-high 188 yards, too. NU’s offensive line is starting to master the paths coaches want them to take in the zone run game. The technique looks better, too. The Huskers like their perimeter run game more right now than the stuff between hash marks, but it’s working, and quarterback Adrian Martinez (plus perhaps Luke McCaffrey?) add a nice dynamic to a rush attack that should overwhelm a Maryland defense that has allowed 5.05 yards per carry in league play. Spread offenses have taken a particular chunk out of the Terrapins, who are led by linebackers Keandre Jones and Ayinde Eley. NU is likely to roll here, and needs to, for 250 yards or more.

Nebraska pass offense vs. Maryland pass defense

The Terrapin pass defense has been remarkably poor — opponents have had a 64.6% completion rate at 8.1 yards per attempt. It’s been close to defenseless in league play, allowing 13 pass plays of 30 yards or longer. Nebraska’s pass game isn’t particularly efficient when it counts — bad sacks taken in plus territory, a 41.7% completion rate in the red zone — but coach Scott Frost and offensive coordinator Troy Walters scheme big plays between the 20s, be it to JD Spielman or Kanawai Noa or Jack Stoll. The return of Wan’Dale Robinson would help, but it’s no guarantee he’ll get back. NU may not need him against a team that has seven interceptions and 20 sacks this season.

Maryland rush offense vs. Nebraska rush defense

One thing the Terrapins have done well every year they’ve been in the Big Ten: Run the ball. NU defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has seen both sides of it. His Central Florida defense gave up 246 yards to Maryland in 2016 before holding the Terps to 42 in 2017. This season, Maryland popped a lot of big plays in blowout wins over Howard and Syracuse. It hasn’t been as fruitful in Big Ten play, because Nebraska’s run defense (4.64 yards per carry) is now closer to Syracuse (4.65) than it is Michigan (2.78). Maryland’s names to watch include running backs Javon Leake and Anthony McFarland, and Tyrrell Pigrome, an option-style quarterback who can run the zone read well enough to mess with Nebraska.

Maryland pass offense vs. Nebraska pass defense

Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson is more of the passer than Pigrome. But Jackson, the son of a college football assistant, has been banged up and threw 31 passes in the past five games. If he’s healthy after a bye week, he’ll give the Terrapins a downfield dynamic. Maryland’s big-play receiver is 6-foot-3, 200-pound Dontay Demus (33 catches, 517 yards, five touchdowns). Beyond that, the Terrapins largely use a collection of tight ends and running backs. Coach and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has a fun, diverse offense that worked well at Alabama. He doesn’t have all the pieces yet, especially for the pass game of deep routes and tough slants he prefers. Nebraska’s pass rush isn’t great and the secondary has some creaky moments, but NU can handle this crew.

Special teams

Leake has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season — one was against Michigan — so if Nebraska can’t get the ball to the end zone, look out. DJ Turner has also returned a punt for a score. So, yeah, the Huskers have to be on alert. Nebraska’s kicking game is generally rough, but it has the edge at punter and Maryland has made one field goal this season.

Intangibles

Tiny crowd for Senior Day, but this is Maryland’s bowl game. The Terrapins have NU and Michigan State left on the schedule. Either would be a “big win” for a first-year coach who doesn’t have one yet. Nebraska is playing for its bowl life, and hasn’t handled “stakes” that well in 2019. It hasn’t played well on the road, either, especially on defense. There’s a “when is this going to be over?” quality to Nebraska’s demeanor. Frost has his contract extension for recruiting purposes, he sounds interested in talking about big picture issues in the offseason, and it all seems a little comfortably numb.

Key matchup: Nebraska’s red zone offense vs. Maryland’s red zone defense

The Huskers struggle to score touchdowns inside an opponent’s 20. Maryland allows opponents to score touchdowns on 70% of their trips in the red zone. (Nebraska allows it on 69.77%.) Given the amount of yards NU is liable to rack up, something has to give. We’re guessing, this time, it’s Maryland’s defense.

Our take

Not that four straight losses illuminate it well, but Nebraska’s offense has generally been pretty hot at the start of games. Good playcalling, good tempo. NU has averaged 127.3 yards per game in the first quarter, and should that trend continue Saturday, look for at least 10 points to accompany those yards. Don’t be surprised if Nebraska posts those yards — and points — in every quarter as Frost and Walters rev up an offense finally finding its footing and stop worrying about protecting NU’s beaten-up and beaten-down defense. Nebraska wants a track meet, Maryland plays that way, too, so look for points. Lots of ‘em.

Our prediction: NEBRASKA 42, MARYLAND 31

#Huskers on Instagram

Videos

Extras

Game notes

Check out a PDF of the game notes for the Nebraska-Maryland matchup provided by the Husker 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 Red Today coverage

In 1891, the Huskers and Hawkeyes played 'for blood' on Thanksgiving

Some fans say Iowa and Nebraska aren't rivals. Others concede they are. But nobody took the game as seriously as the 1891 Omaha World-Herald sports department.

All of Nebraska's history vs. Purdue football is recent. Except one 1958 game

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…

Monday rewind: Nebraska football needs a spark — and maybe a little time 'away from each other'

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 —…

Stopping the run is crucial in the Big Ten West, and Husker football ranks as the worst

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.

'Keep it going or pack it up': Scott Frost delivers frank message to Huskers after Minnesota loss

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.

Shatel: Mugging in Minnesota shows Scott Frost's Huskers still lacking muscle, mindset

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…

Huskers 'knocked out of position' as physical Gophers pound Nebraska with ground game

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…

Losing numbers: The stats and figures that defined Nebraska's loss to Minnesota

A closer look at the defining stats and figures from the Huskers' loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

Even with soft spots disguised as strengths, Minnesota finds room in Husker football's front seven

Minnesota carved up Nebraska’s defense with its run game Saturday night because it spotted soft spots disguised as strengths.

Nebraska-Minnesota: Breaking down the Huskers' performance on offense and defense

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.

Nebraska-Minnesota: Three things we learned, three things we still don't know

Three things we learned and three things we still don’t know about the Huskers coming out of Saturday's loss to Minnesota.

Husker pregame: Adrian Martinez not dressed for warmups; Noah Vedral poised for first start

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is not suited up for the game an hour ahead of kickoff and will not play against Minnesota.

$250,000-a-year consulting deal for former NU President Hank Bounds draws both concerns, praise

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…

They both have young offenses, but Minnesota can show Nebraska how fast they grow up

The Huskers think a strong second half is coming. Their counterparts in Minneapolis have already experienced it.

Shatel: What's up with Adrian Martinez? Is Noah Vedral ready? Let's ask Mario Verduzco

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 offensive lineman Keegan Menning will walk on at Nebraska

Fremont senior Keegan Menning added his name to the list of walk-ons in Nebraska’s 2020 class on Thursday night.

Huskers discuss redshirt rule weekly, 'but things change.' Luke McCaffrey is the latest example

“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, Damian Jackson contenders for national awards

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.

Huskers to practice outside Friday in preparation for 'football weather' in Minnesota

If it’s Christmas weather — 32 degrees — for Nebraska’s Saturday night game at Minnesota, well, Scott Frost can’t think anything much better.

Husker practice report, Oct. 10: Scott Frost not revealing playing status of injured players

While Nebraska's travel roster is rounding into form, the status of players at multiple key positions remains unclear.

106-year-old fan attends her first Husker game, meets Nebraska coach Scott Frost

"I just thought that I was on a different planet almost," she told The World-Herald. "It was a special place to be."

Husker opponent preview: Everything you need to know about the Minnesota Gophers

“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…

27 times Husker games were decided by a last-minute score since 2000

They've given you lifelong memories, permanent heartache, everlasting glee and eternal suffering.

Cold weather not changing Huskers' plan. Minnesota is pouring ice water on players

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…

Husker practice report, Oct. 9: Adrian Martinez, JD Spielman both in pads

Encouraging news this morning from Husker football practice. Adrian Martinez (knee) and JD Spielman (undisclosed) were both in pads for practice Wednesday.

Shatel: Noah Vedral's star-crossed turn involves Matt Turman's sister, Kansas State ... and fate

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…

Bill Moos preaches patience, need for four-year development as Husker football makes 'evolution'

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.

Minnesota once told the Huskers they were 'no good.' Nebraska responded with 84 points

Nebraska has dominated Minnesota since 1963, claiming 19 of 22 games. But the Gophers have the all-time edge.

'Just gotta stay locked in': Husker defensive backs will be tested by trio of Minnesota receivers

Inside linebacker Mohamed Barry doesn’t usually concern himself much with wide receivers. This week, he’s at full attention.

McKewon: Ronald Delancy brings more flavor from Miami, where they play defense with an edge

Nebraska received a commitment Tuesday from Miami Northwestern defensive back Ronald Delancy. Three takes on the decision of the 6-foot, 165-pounder.