Now? The flip side.
Nebraska has shown a lot of growth this season, that is going to be tested this weekend. Nebraska welcomes Oregon to town in what should be an excellent game. Nebraska is favored by three points on Saturday. Here is why the Huskers win.
Oregon's Rush Defense:
Oregon has played UC Davis (an FCS team) and Virginia, a team that lost to Richmond the week before playing Oregon. After two weeks, against poor opponents, the Oregon rush defense ranks 67th in the country. They are giving up 141 yards per game and have given up six rushing touchdowns, which ranks them 115th in the country. Oregon also ranks 115th in the country in giving up rushes of 10 or more yards.
|Nebraska||215 (42)||4.57 (65)||430 (41)||7 (12)|
|Oregon||141 (67)||3.86 (71)||282 (69)||6 (115)|
Team rankings in parentheses
Nebraska will need to keep the Oregon offense off of the field and their best bet to do that is to establish the running game. The Huskers should have a big advantage on the ground against this Duck defense. I am of the opinion that Nebraska will need to use Tommy Armstrong a fair amount on the ground to have the best chance to win. I would look for 10-15 carries from him. If Nebraska is able to establish the running game, and beat Oregon over the top with a play action pass or two, I like Nebraska's chances.
Dakota Prukop is a phenomenal quarterback. There is no getting around that. One thing that he has yet to see in his time at Montana State and Oregon is a crowd like Nebraska's. Yes, he has played home games in front of 50,000 people, but he has never played in front of a bigger crowd than that. In an interview with the Omaha-World Herald, Prukop hinted at the fact that he does not know what to expect for Saturday's crowd.
"I won't really know and truly understand it until I'm in it and playing there, I've seen some pictures and video of the stadium, and it looks like a really solid, historic place to play. I'm definitely excited and anticipating playing the game for that reason."
Prukop is talented enough to have a big game against Nebraska, however the crowd could play a large part in this one. If Nebraska can repeat the environment it had when Miami came to town, I think there is a good shot that it makes an impact on the game. Oregon uses mainly non-verbal signals on offense, but the noise can still play a big factor. Husker players are also putting the pressure on Husker fans to show up in a big way this Saturday.
Michael Rose-Ivey (@Rose_IveyNB15) September 12, 2016
Can't wait to see Husker nation in full force this Saturday, there truly is no place like Nebraska #NoSitSaturday— Drew Brown (@Drewdbrown34) September 13, 2016
Nebraska's Offensive Versatility:
If you don't know what to expect out of the Husker offense this weekend, you're not the only one. In week one, Nebraska ran the ball 80% of the time. Week two, Nebraska threw the ball 35 times. While this may concern "run the ball guy" it could also be seen as a good thing. Nebraska has shown the ability to move the ball on the ground and through the air. If I am Oregon I load the box, simply because I would rather make Tommy beat me with his arms, rather than let Nebraska establish the ground game. The tricky part about that is that Nebraska can throw the ball effectively. Last week Tommy Armstrong put together a pretty solid performance. Tommy threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns. If Nebraska is able to get a decent amount of production out of its running game (they should have no problem with that) look for the Huskers to attack the secondary with a couple of play action passes deep down the field.
Oregon's Inexperience on the Offensive Line:
Oregon has an offensive line that is just as inexperienced as Nebraska's as they are starting three redshirt freshman up front. Oregon running back, Royce Freeman has the ability to make plays on his own, but to ask him to do that all game is unrealistic. This offensive line has not been tested in its first two games, but will be on Saturday. Nebraska has been creative in its blitzes in the first two games, and that should continue. If the Huskers are able to stay strong in the middle, and bring pressure from different levels of the defense, look for the Oregon offensive line to get confused and show its youth. If Oregon can't open holes or protect its quarterback, Nebraska should have a good chance to take the Ducks down.
Nebraska's Ability to Force Turnovers:
Turnover margin was a huge problem for Nebraska last year. This year it has been the polar opposite. The Huskers rank 1st (FIRST) in the country in turnover margin at +7. Oregon has turned the ball over twice this season, both fumbles. While Oregon has not turned it over much this season (through just two games), they have not played a ball-hawking defense like the Huskers. (also, through just two games) If Nebraska is able to force a turnover or two and get the Oregon offense off the field it will bode well for Nebraska's chances this weekend.