* It’s the first meeting between the two schools since 1920, when Nebraska won the game 28-0.
* A win would likely push the Huskers into the Top 15 in both the AP and USA Today coaches poll for the first time since the week of the Big Ten Championship in 2012. Next week the College Football Committee will also release their first top 25 poll.
LINCOLN, Neb. - After looking like they put a few things together last week against Northwestern, the Nebraska Cornhuskers return to Lincoln on Saturday for their first home game in four weeks, when they take on Rutgers.
“We had a good week of practice,” Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said Thursday. “I think our guys recovered pretty well. I thought we did our normal thing Sunday. We had a good Tuesday, Wednesday and just had a walkthrough to tie things up. We’ll put the finishing touches on it Friday. I told our guys – it’s going to happen quickly on Saturday morning. Let’s get our rest tonight and get ready to go and make sure we are ready to meet the challenge.”
The Scarlet Knights enter the contest after getting blowout by Ohio Sate last week in Columbus. The offense, which has struggled in their two Big Ten losses, will look to get off to a fast start on Saturday.
“It’s something that I’ve put an emphasis on,” said Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood told reporters, including ScarletReport.com. “I don’t know that it’s something we just want to do next week. It’s something we want to do every game. You’d like to start the game clean. This week, I think because last week we didn’t do it, we’ve talked about it a little more with the players.”
That fast start could come off a long pass, something Nebraska has been preparing for this week.
“They’ve hit some deep shots,” Pelini said on Thursday. “They’ve hit some long balls. Some guys have blown coverage or missed coverage, or just beat guys at times. They’re going to run, run, run. They are going to pound the football at you sometimes. They are going to take their shots down the field. That’s where you have to be ready.”
On defense, Rutgers features an athletic group. While they are No. 97 in the country in passing yards allowed, they are near the top ten in sacks – with 24 in just seven games.
“ They are fast,” said Beck. “They read their keys well and run to the football…they are really good on third downs. They have a good pass rush.
Bo Pelini Thursday practice audio (10-23-14):
The Blackshirts that were:
By: Matthew Svoboda – BRR contributor
Before the actual “Blackshirts” were handed out on Tuesday, the Blackshirt defense was dominating on the field. The second half of the Northwestern game was about as flawless as a defense can play.
Last Saturday’s second half defensively was arguably one of the best in the Bo Pelini era. The Wildcats, after gaining 262 yards in the first half, got a lousy 28 yards. You read that correctly, 28 yards in an entire half of college football.
Nebraska only allowed Northwestern to have six offensive drives in the second half. Four out of the six drives were three and outs, gaining just one total yard. The other two drives had seven plays, but neither drive got more than 15 yards. Five of the six drives lasted less than 1:45.
It was as dominating a half as you could ask from a defense. Several factors led to the performance – the biggest coming in the way a few backup defenders played.
Junior defensive tackle Kevin Williams played the best game of his career, along with freshman defensive back Joshua Kalu and junior Daniel Davie. It was many of the lesser-known players that really stepped up and took the defense to the next level. Those same type of players are probably what will determine the rest of the season for the Huskers.
Another player that has really come on for the defense is sophomore safety Nate Gerry. He played linebacker last year, but looks comfortable back at the safety spot where he spent his prep days.
“Now you see he is very, very natural back there in the safety position. That becomes more obvious,” said Pelini. “He makes great plays on the football and has really good instincts at the position.”
Nebraska has been great this season at getting off the field on third-down, this was especially true against Northwestern. The Huskers third down efficiency in the second half was 66 percent.
“We spend a lot of time on it. We spend a lot of time on protections, on how we can exploit what teams are doing. We make some adjustments week-to-week and try to be creative in what we are doing and give a lot of different looks,” said Pelini. He continued, “It takes times. You have to put some time into it to make sure the guys have a good understanding of it, and I think our guys do have a good understanding of what we are doing. Mix it up a little bit. It comes down to execution. It comes down to everyone being where they are supposed to be and doing their job.”
The time and work is paying off for the Blackshirt defense. It is this type of performance that can catapult a defense from good to great… It could even lead to a conference championship.
DT Kevin Williams (right) and DE Jack Gangwish (left)
Harvey’s keys to a Nebraska victory:
* The Nebraska secondary needs to slow down junior receiver Leonte Carroo. The New Jersey native is averaging 19.1 yards per catch in just his second season and has averaged over 100 yards a game in his last three contests. While Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova spreads it around, Carroo is by far his favorite receiver. Frustrate that tandem and the Scarlet Knights might struggle to move the football.
* Keep of the offensive and defensive line rotation coming. Nebraska looked fresh in the trenches in the second half, both on offense and defense. I think they need to continue the rotation. Offensive lineman Givens Price, Mike Moudy, Chongo Kondolo, and Ryne Reeves proved they can handle more than a series or two. On defense, Kevin Williams and Jack Gangwish showed they have an ability to get to a quarterback.
* Time to run the football. The Rutgers run defense has had it’s ups and downs this season, but wasn’t very good against Ohio State. Nebraska’s rushing attack is better. This might be a game where Abdullah sees a spike his Heisman stock.
Big Red Report score predictions:
Josh Harvey, Scout.com: Nebraska: 38, Rutgers 17
Bryan Munson, BRR staff: Nebraska: 35, Rutgers: 24
Matt Svoboda, BRR contributor: Nebraska: 45, Rutgers: 13
Beth Long, Scout.com: Nebraska: 35, Rutgers: 10
Brian Dohn, Scout.com: Nebraska: 38, Rutgers: 21
Brandon Huffman, Scout.com: Nebraska: 31, Rutgers: 14
CFN News (Scout.com): Nebraska: 38, Rutgers: 20
|Matchup Preview | October 25, 2014|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights|
(5-2, 2-1 Away)
|#16 Nebraska Cornhuskers|
(6-1, 4-0 Home)