Breaking it down: BYU vs. Nebraska
Who: BYU vs. Nebraska
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Memorial Stadium, Nebraska
Spread: Nebraska -7
Matchup to Watch: Maliek Collins vs. Taysom Hill
The BYU quarterback is healthy, which means the Blackshirts will have their first major challenge. He’ll line up within arms reach of Collins, who was better than Randy Gregory in 2014. Hill is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, which isn’t the best news for Nebraska. The Huskers often struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks in 2014. Some pressure up the middle would make that effort an easier one, especially if Nebraska’s inexperienced linebackers are chasing Hill around all day.
Thing I’m excited to see: Danny Langsdorf’s pro-style offense
Nebraska’s offense will look just a wee bit different in 2015. It’ll be an adjustment for Tommy Armstrong entering his third year as starter. The new system will put more pressure on his accuracy, which he’s struggled with too often. Will we see the full arsenal from Langsdorf? Without De’Mornay Pierson-El, it would be surprising if Nebraska busted out much trickery Week 1. Saturday is all about getting Armstrong and Co. comfortable in this new system. They’ve spent all offseason saying that the transition has been a positive one. Saturday afternoon, against a real life defense, we’ll see how natural the offense looks.
Number to Remember: 1
That was Nebraska’s national ranking in average starting field position last year. A lot of that had to do with Pierson-El, who led the country in return yards. Without he and Ameer Abdullah, offense won’t come as easy. Call me crazy, but I don’t think the Huskers lead the nation in that category again. Some short fields would make life easier for an offense that will be getting its feet wet. Field position battles can decide back-and-forth affairs, which this one could easily wind up being.
Prediction: Nebraska 35, BYU 31
The Cougars will be minutes from pulling off the upset in Lincoln…but a Nate Gerry pick-six will be the momentum shift the Huskers need. This game will be way too close for comforta. Keep in mind, this is a team that went into Austin and crushed Texas. The Cougars won’t be intimidated by Memorial Stadium. Still, Nebraska will find a way to escape upset-minded BYU. Mike Riley’s first Nebraska win will be as hard-fought as it gets.