Oh wait, hold up, Tennessee lost to who? UCLA? Yeah, but it was on the road in the Rose Bowl. Huh uh, UCLA was starting their third string quarterback and still won?
There goes that thought.
Nebraska is now set to host a team that would have rather face them than an SEC team. While many might say how the mighty have fallen, it's time to send a message that if Nebraska isn't back then they are on their way back. This is a statement game.
Going for Nebraska: How about some bulletin board material? As a coach, I might prefer to head into Lincoln and play Nebraska over going to Knoxville, but I am not going to say it if I have to go and play Nebraska. I mean, the whole story to The Mercury News was just a bad idea even if it was qualified with ‘It's crazy to go to Nebraska. It's double-crazy to go to Tennessee.' This article is lose-lose, especially after a Tennessee loss. By the way, Tennessee has lost just one less game than Nebraska at home since 2001.
Going for San Jose State: Head Coach Dick Tomey has been to Lincoln before and knows what to expect. The Spartans have also been the benefactors of some defectors from other division I teams, notably Jeff Schwieger from USC, who had a Nebraska offer at one time, Coye Francies who transferred from Oregon State and now starting quarterback Kyle Reed from California. While San Jose State did struggle against UC-Davis it seems that the team has confidence that they can come into Lincoln and play against Nebraska. They also have some playmakers on the outside that were quiet against UC-Davis that are very, very good players.
Going against Nebraska: How about the injury bug especially in the secondary? The Huskers were already without Anthony Blue, probably for the season, but either seeing limited time against Western Michigan or no time at all was Ricky Thenarse, Armando Murillo and Major Culbert. Thenarse hasn't practiced all week, but Murillo and Culbert look like they are all back. Nebraska is going to need to shore some things up in the secondary after allowing 342 yards passing to Western Michigan a week ago.
Going against San Jose State: San Jose is looking for their first, non-conference road win since 2002 when San Jose State beat Illinois, 38-35. The close win against UC-Davis seems to throw up some flags as well. San Jose needed Kyle Reed to enter the game in the second half and throw two, touchdowns to comeback from behind to beat UC-Davis. Not to mention, a drive with under a minute to go that came down to a fourth down pass to the end zone coming off of a sack.
Offensive player of interest for Nebraska: Menolik Holt had a coming out game of sorts against Western Michigan and provided Nebraska another big threat to go along with Nate Swift and Todd Peterson. Last year, Holt hauled in four passes for just under 100 yards and last weekend he totaled five receptions for 59 yards. The Huskers will need to keep aiming the ball at Holt as it seems that he has developed into the receiver that many thought he could be coming out of San Diego (Calif.) St. Augustine.
Offensive player of interest for San Jose State: How about a pair of players? I am going to go with Kevin Jurovich who caught 11 passes for 99 yards including a touchdown last week against UC-Davis on top of 85 receptions for 1,183 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago. Opposite Jurovich is David Richmond who hauled in 55 passes for 852 yards and three scores last year. Between the two of them, they averaged nearly 170 yards receiving per game. That talent with that type of production could have big games on Saturday.
Defensive player of interest for Nebraska: I am going to have to go with Larry Asante here. This is another spread offense that is going to test Nebraska deep, underneath, sideways and every other direction this Saturday. Asante is going to have some very key responsibilities, some of which were blown last week with not a lot of damage beyond the catch. The play of the safety position as a whole is going to be critical and you might expect to see more pressure up front with some different stunts and blitzes to try and take the pressure off of the secondary.
Defensive player of interest for San Jose State: Some would automatically say Jeff Schwieger here, but I am going to pass. There isn't a lot to go off of when it comes to how he fits in at San Jose State, but Jarron Gilbert is a guy that is going to stand out on the field on Saturday. At 6-foot-6 and 280-pounds, Gilbert has tremendous size for a defensive tackle. Given his stats last year, 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, Gilbert also has the ability to make plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. More than that, Gilbert allows for lineman to get gobbled up on him while players like Justin Cole and Travis Jones can make plays behind him from their linebacker spots.
Deciding factors: A lot of people are going to simply judge the scoreboard of the San Jose State game last week against UC-Davis and say that Nebraska should walk away with a win. Maybe, but UC-Davis also seemed to get some things clicking in the second half under the new quarterback, Reed, who showed good poise and leadership through the second half and on the game-winning drive that included his touchdown pass.
If there is one other thing that might be going in San Jose State's way it might be that the game is early in the day. This doesn't give Nebraska fans the opportunity to get as loud as they can be for evening games. Regardless, the confines of Memorial Stadium at 11:00 AM or PM won't be the deciding factors here. The Huskers should have a great day on offense and there is a chance that there could be some long pass hook ups throughout the game and I would expect some aggressive defense. Huskers win, going away.
I'll say Huskers 48-17.