GAME NOTES: Coming off a bye, which followed their first loss of the season,
the 19th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers pay a visit to the Northwestern Wildcats
for a Big Ten Conference clash on Saturday evening.
Although the Cornhuskers ultimately fell at Michigan State two weeks ago, they
certainly made a game of it at the end. Trailing 27-3, Nebraska scored three
touchdowns in the final frame, but came up just short. The setback ended a
six-game win streak for Nebraska, which dates back to a 24-19 victory over
Georgia in last season’s Gator Bowl.
“We just couldn’t get the groove, couldn’t execute and it came back to haunt
us,” Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. said, while maintaining
confidence in his team’s chances going forward. “Honestly, it’s not the last
time (MSU) is going to see us, I can promise you that. We plan on going 11-1,
making the Big Ten Championship. We plan on seeing MSU again.”
The first step in setting up a potential rematch with the Spartans will be
taking down Northwestern. Although the Wildcats are just 3-3 overall, they
should not be overlooked. After all, they knocked off a then-undefeated Penn
State on the road, and followed that with a 20-14 upset of Wisconsin earlier
In the series between these relatively new Big Ten foes, Nebraska owns a 5-2
advantage. In the three meetings since the Cornhuskers joined the conference,
Nebraska has won twice, but by an average margin of only two points.
It is no secret that Nebraska will try to run the ball this weekend, and every
weekend this season. The Cornhuskers are second in the Big Ten and sixth
nationally in rushing yards (303.5 ypg). All that running has not kept them
from putting up big numbers on the scoreboard, as they are one of three teams
in the league averaging more than 40 points per game.
The linchpin of the attack is running back Ameer Abdullah, who is on the short
list of Heisman Trophy candidates. Abdullah has racked up 878 yards and 10
touchdowns on 138 carries, while showing an exceptional ability to pick up
yards after contact. He has only lost 20 yards overall and ranks behind only
Indiana’s Tevin Coleman and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon in rushing yards among
Big Ten backs.
Armstrong Jr’s ability to move the ball on the ground also helps in Nebraska’s
offensive scheme, as does the play of backup running back Imani Cross (224
yards, three TDs).
Armstrong Jr. is averaging more than 70 yards per tilt on the ground, but he
is still a fairly effective passer. Although he has completed only 51.9
percent of his passes, he has tallied 1,325 yards and has twice as many
touchdown passes (10) as interceptions (five).
SpreaFIU, finishing with 318 yards of
total offense and 16 points.
Tucker Carter missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury that still has
him questionable for this contest. Blake Bogenschutz made the start instead,
but suffered an injury to his hand, which forced him out. That left the job to
Austin Robinson, who completed 14-of-17 pass attempts for 144 yards.
Bogenschutz is also questionable for the Louisiana Tech game, so Robinson will
likely get the start.
Obviously that is bad news for an offense that has already been sluggish. It
is also bad news for the receiving corps. Tight end David Morgan II leads the
team in receiving yards (196) on only 14 receptions. Kam Jones (17 receptions,
130 yards) has the most catches of anyone on the roster, but he averages fewer
than eight yards per reception.
David Glasco II (260 yards, four TDs) and Jarveon Williams (241 yards, three
TDs) share the rushing duties, although Robinson (73 yards) can pick up a few
yards on the ground himself.
On defense, the Roadrunners have been much more potent, ranking third in
points allowed (25.2 ppg) and fourth in total defense (362.8 ypg). The unit’s
ability to slow down FIU was the team’s saving grace, as the Panthers only
averaged 3.5 yards per play en route to an effort of 259 total yards.
Triston Wade (42 tackles, two INTs) has been a strong playmaker for the unit,
leading the way in tackles and interceptions, as well as passes defended
(eight). Robert Singletary (33 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks) has forced four
Louisiana Tech, normally one of the more potent offenses in the conference,
has been solid but not as effective as usual. The Bulldogs rank fifth in the
league in scoring (34.2 ppg) and seventh in total yards (385.3 ypg).
Cody Sokol calls the shots from under center, and he had a strange game
against UTEP, finishing with 173 yards and three touchdown passes, but on
only 6-of-16 passing. He has connected on just under 60 percent of his throws
this season for 1,398 yards and 13 scores, although he has been picked off
Trent Taylor (23 receptions, 301 yards, two TDs) may lead the team in
receptions and receiving yards, but he was limited to only 14 yards on a
single catch against UTEP. Carlos Henderson (11 receptions, 185 yards, TD) was
extremely productive, tallying 100 yards and a score on only two grabs.
Sterling Griffin (20 receptions, 291 yards, TD) and Hunter Lee (20 receptions,
248 yards, three TDs) are also important parts of the equation.
Kenneth Dixon’s work out of the backfield has been the most consistent
part of the Bulldogs’ offense. Dixon has rushed for 519 yards and eight
touchdowns already and is coming off an 86-yard effort, which included a
score against UTEP.
The Bulldogs are doing a bit better than the Roadrunners defensively, ranking
third in the league in yards allowed (355.7 ypg), although they have been
slightly less effective in keeping foes off the scoreboard, allowing 27.8
points per game.
Electric play in the secondary from Xavier Woods has really helped the cause,
with the sophomore defensive back snagging four interceptions, which ties him
for the league lead.
For how effective it has been on defense, UTSA just hasn’t had the touch on
offense. With the top two options at quarterback likely out once again, the
Roadrunners aren’t going to be much better, especially on the road with Woods
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana Tech 28, Texas-San Antonio 24