Bruce Thorson, USA Today

Know Your Foe: Five Questions with Nebraska Publisher Josh Harvey

Dec. 24 -- Check out what Nebraska publisher Josh Harvey had to say about the Cornhuskers heading into Saturday's game...

1. How much of a change has the offense undergone with Mike Riley replacing Bo Pelini?

Most fans would like to see a stronger commitment to running the football. They feel offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf either abandons the run to quickly or gets pass happy. There is a feeling at times that this coaching staff views the running game as a compliment to the passing game. Nebraska fans are used to seeing their great teams run the ball down people’s throats. Head coach Mike Riley said next year he wants this team to be a top three team in the Big Ten when it comes to running the football. We will see if that is actually the case, but I don’t know if he had the horses (both at RB and OL) to get it done this season.

2. How has the fan base reacted to this season and the way it has gone? Is there a lot of patience at this point, or is Riley going to have to prove some things next year?

There is definitely a big portion of the fan base nervous at this point about the hire. I think the people who weren’t sold on him at first have all the ammunition they need at the moment. My expectations are high for Riley. I think he will have success, if people are patient enough with him. Recruiting seems to be on the uptick, but for his system to work, he will have to have his own guys. When you look at this defense, they could have some success against some of the stronger teams in the Big Ten West in the future because of their ability to stop the run. Coming into the season I didn't think it was a true rebuild. It was more of a tune up. But, expectations were somewhat unrealistic. A team can’t learn a new scheme on both sides of the ball and finish with ten wins. Riley deserves at least three years to show what sort of team he can field, both from a recruiting standpoint and as a member of the Big Ten.

3. How are the players approaching this game, given that it's a special circumstance that they are even in a bowl game right now? Has that given them a chip on their shoulder?

I think many of them feel this would be a big momentum booster going into the offseason, similar to the way the 2013 Gator Bowl was for them when they were underdogs against Georgia. There were some guys who didn’t understand the bowl selection process at first that thought they didn’t deserve to be in a bowl, but others who felt they did considering the closes losses and the win over Michigan State. I think this team definitely has a chip on their shoulder when it comes to being a team that is probably better than their record appears.

4. What do you see as the biggest thing Nebraska needs to do to win this game?

Nebraska needs to find a way to slow down Josh Rosen. The Huskers are currently No. 122 in the country in stopping the pass. The crazy thing is that number has been worse at times this season. UCLA likes to move the football through the air and definitely will have some success against Nebraska’s secondary. The question is whether Nebraska will just bend, or actually break. Late in the season they were giving up a lot of yards, but finding a way to slow offenses the closer they got to the red zone.

5. How do you see the game playing out and what's your score prediction?

I actually think Nebraska might have some success running the football on UCLA, who ranks No. 88 in the country. But I don’t know if the Huskers have the running back on the roster to put the entire team on his back. In addition, I’m not convinced Tommy Armstrong will run enough to hurt UCLA. But I don’t know if Nebraska will keep Rosen in check over the entire game. I think Nebraska can keep it close, but it will be another close loss for the Huskers, 34-27.


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