A lot of folks have been fretting about the Nebraska Cornhuskers taking the field against the Miami Hurricanes in their own house for a while now.
Fear not, pray tell. For I will give you the reasons the Huskers win Saturday.
There were a lot of question marks around Tommy Armstrong this offseason. Can he adjust to the new system? Can he improve his completion percentage? Can he limit the mistakes and errant throws? All signs point to yes after the first two games. Miami’s pass defense has looked really good to begin the season, albeit against some weak competition (Bethune-Cookman and Florida Atlantic). Miami is currently in the top-ten in total defense, allowing just 234 yards per game. If Nebraska is going to win this game, Tommy Armstrong is going to have to be "the guy" for the Huskers if the run game can’t take advantage of a suspect Miami rush defense. If he can find some holes in the Miami secondary, and open up the run game, look for Nebraska to have a good shot at leaving Miami with an impressive road victory.
Mike Riley vs. Al Golden:
I’m not anointing Mike Riley the best coach in college football, but he is twice the coach Al Golden is. At Miami Al Golden is 30-22 (.577). Once again… at MIAMI. He is in a recruiting hotbed, and getting a ton of talent to his team… yet he is 30-22. Last season the Canes sent seven players to the NFL via the draft, the most they have had since 2011. At Oregon State Mike Riley amassed a 93-80 record ( .538). Riley also went 6-2 in bowl games at Oregon State. Hear Mike Welch of Drop the Mike talk about the Mike Riley vs. Al Golden matchup.
Miami’s Rush Defense:
Miami’s pass defense has been on point this season, but their rush defense is a different story. Miami is 58th in the country in total rush defense, giving up 138 yards per game. Again, they have played Bethune-Cookman and Florida Atlantic. Cookman didn’t do much at all against the Canes, totaling just 79 yards of offense. Florida Atlantic was a different story. The Owls gashed the Miami defense for 223 yards on the ground. They averaged over 6 yards per carry, and probably beat Miami if not for the five turnovers. Nebraska’s running game has left a bit to be desired. I realize what Terrell Newby did last week, but lets realize who it was against. Against BYU Nebraska struggled to get anything going on the ground. Nebraska carried the ball 37 times for just 126 yards, averaging just over 3.5 yards per carry. While I believe Tommy Armstrong to be the key to a Husker victory, if Nebraska can establish a running game the Huskers have a really good chance on Saturday.
Miami’s Offense? Nothing Special:
Miami’s offense has been extremely balanced, rushing for 421 yards and throwing for 484 yards on the season. The Canes rank 50th in the country in total offense, again against poor competition. While there will always be growing pains when you lose your best wide receiver and running back (remind you of anyone… Nebraska ranks 24th in total offense under the same circumstances) one would expect Miami to put up some big numbers against the outmatched opponents. Miami’s rush offense has been the better option, as they are in the top 20 in the country averaging over 6 yards per carry. The Miami passing attack is outside of the top 50 in yards per attempt, touchdowns, yards per game, and passer rating. These numbers play in favor of Nebraska’s defense. Nebraska is 16th in the country, allowing just over 75 yards per game on the ground. Nebraska’s pass defense is a different story. The Husker defense ranks a cringe worth 120th in the country in pass yards per game. If Nebraska is able to shut down the run and simply hold their own in the pass game look for the Huskers to walk away with a win.
Miami Looked Sketchy Against FAU:
Miami took care of week on opponent Bethune-Cookman to the tune of a 45-0 thumping. Going into week two, expectations were the same. While Miami did end up covering the -17.5 line, it was not easy. FAU torched the Miami run defense, as I mentioned above and at half time the score was 20-17 in favor of the Canes. Miami would pull away in the second half due in large part to several turnovers by FAU. The Miami defense did what it needed to, forcing the five turnovers, but if FAU was able to hold onto the ball we could be talking about a 1-1 Miami team. The Nebraska undoubtedly learned from the FAU tape, which could lead to a big victory.