After beating Southern Miss 49-20 last Saturday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers travel to the Rose Bowl to take on the UCLA Bruins.
Going into last week’s game, most expected the Blackshirts would outplay the Offense. It was further believed the Special Teams would be solid due to returning All American Kicker, Brett Maher. Coming out of the game, the Blackshirt front four looks shaky; Brett Maher’s field goal kicking and punting look suspect; the Huskers gave up a 100 yard kick-off return for a touchdown; and the Offense looks like a well oiled machine. Taylor Martinez employed his new footwork and throwing motion for 354 yards passing, 5 touchdown passes, a 76% completion rate and no interceptions. The Receivers and Tight-ends looked fantastic. The O-Line looked great and the Offense piled up 294 rushing yards. The only big negative to come out of the game was Heisman Trophy candidate Rex Burkhead spraining his MCL in the first quarter. So, going into Los Angeles, the big questions will focus on Burkhead’s return (he has not practiced this week) and Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross and Braylon Heard picking up the slack; Talyor Martinez maintaining his improvment; Brett Maher bouncing back to his All-American form; and the Blackshirts rounding into shape.
From UCLA side of the ball, the Bruins won their first game by a score of 49-28 over a bad Rice University team (4-8 in 2011/2012) . In typical Pac-12 fashion, the Bruins surrendering 358 yards, 34 minutes of possession and 24 points to Rice bodes well for the Huskers. Unlike many Bo Pelini teams of the past, the outcome of this game appears to depend on the performance of Blackshirts. The Bruins put 343 rushing yards and 303 passing yards. So, the Blackshirt front four will need to bounce back by shaking blockers, making tackles and creating some pressure on the quarterback. A relatively untested but strong Blackshirt Defensive Backfield will also face its first real test of the season as Southern Miss relied on three young and inexperienced quarterbacks.
Considering all the factors, I’ll take the Cornhuskers 38-24.