Unfortunately for us, UCLA has a bye week. But it does give us an extra needed week to prepare for the showdown at Nebraska.
Nebraska is coming off a less than stellar win against Wyoming. Many thought this would be a cakewalk win for the Cornhuskers, but not so fast! Wyoming racked up 35 first downs, 383 passing yards, 219 rushing yards which rounds to a grand total of 602 yards. That’s a lot of yards to give up, especially when you’re playing Wyoming.
1) How will Taylor Martinez hold up?
During the Cornhuskers game against Wyoming, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez went down pretty hard on his shoulder. Nebraska’s head coach Bo Pelini said that there is no “structural damage” and that it shouldn’t cause him to miss any time whatsoever. But, this is football, bodies get thrown all over the place. Martinez loves to scramble, and when linebackers and defensive backs see that, it’s open season on the quarterback. If he gets hit and drives his shoulder into the ground, it will be bad news for the Huskers because he might miss the game against our Bruins.
2) How will the Huskers defense do?
After a very poor defensive effort against Wyoming, it’s critical for them to bounce back against Southern Mississippi. After one game, Southern Miss has racked up 377 passing yards, a very bad 23 rushing yards and a mediocre 15 points per contest. This is only after one game, so take that tidbit with a grain of salt. Wyoming proved that they can come into a very hostile environment, put up points and rack up a ton of yards. Now, if Nebraska’s defense struggles against Southern Miss, look for Jim Mora and company to count down the minuets until game time. If you’re not going to stop Wyoming and Southern Miss, good luck containing UCLA’s high octane offensive attack.
3) Nebraska’s potent rushing attack.
Nebraska is a team that has already proven that they can run the ball. Since Rex Burkhead graduated, Ameer Abdullah has taken the starting running back job by the horns. Against Wyoming, he ran for 114 yards on 19 carries, but he didn’t find pay-dirt. Last year, against the Bruins, Abdullah ran for 119 yards and he scored twice. It will be very important to contain Ameer Abdullah, but the Bruins shouldn’t sleep on Imani Cross. Cross is a very talented young running back who is capable of making a big play.
4) The stadium environment.
Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska is one of the most electrifying stadiums in all of college football. No matter who the Huskers are playing, “Big Red Nation” will come out in full force and cheer for their squad until their lungs dry out. Now, this might pose as a problem for our UCLA Bruins. UCLA had 11 penalties against Nevada which is definitely not a good thing. Why does this pose a problem? Well, when you have 75,000+ fans screaming all game, it is very easy to lose your focus and get caught up in the hoopla. I’m not expecting UCLA to have a clean game penalty wise, but they need to shore up the problem before traveling into very hostile territory.
5) The scoreboard.
Keep track of the final score of the So. Miss vs. Nebraska game. After one game, Southern Miss has had very mediocre offensive numbers: only scoring 15 points, rushing for 23 yards, but passing for a great 377 yards. Now, if Southern Mississippi keeps this game close, there is not a doubt in my mind that UCLA will come into Lincoln and destroy the Huskers. It will be interesting to see how this game plays out.