Nebraska played its way back into contention in the B1G West with a 35-21 win over Indiana last Saturday. Rutgers, on the other hand, must regroup following a 49-10 shellacking at Ohio State.

Greg Schiano certainly didn’t appreciate the Buckeyes running a fake punt late in the game up big. His emotional outburst could fire up his Scarlet Knights (3-2, 0-2 B1G) as they return home to play the Huskers (2-3, 1-1).

Nebraska is trending upward under interim coach Mickey Joseph. The Huskers looked better on both sides of the ball against the Hoosiers. New defensive coordinator Bill Busch had the troops playing fast and fearless.

The win came after a bye and 2 weeks to prepare. Now Joseph and staff must get the team ready for a quick turnaround on the road as slight favorites.

Here are 3 key matchups to keep an eye on Friday as the Huskers try to improve to 6-0 all-time over the Scarlet Knights:

1) Rutgers offense vs. Nebraska’s defensive discipline

At first glance this matchup looks like a pillow fight. Nebraska, which features the conferences last-place defense — giving up 469 yards and  32.6 points per game — vs. a meager Rutgers offense that has yet to reach 1,000 passing yards on the season. Only a feeble Iowa unit has less yards through the air.

However, this has the makings of an important battle within the game.

Nebraska’s defense had a new look since Busch took over the unit. They flew around. Played fast and with purpose. Busch showed more man coverage, and his front 4 got after Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak.

The true test will be against a renewed Rutgers ground game. Can the Blackshirts slow down talented freshman Samuel Brown V, who ran for 79 yards on 15 carries against Ohio State. The youngster looks ready to carry more of the load moving forward.

With 210 yards on the year, Brown leads a group of 5 Scarlet Knights rushers to eclipse 100 yards. Offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson knows Nebraska’s been vulnerable against the run. Northwestern’s Evan Hull went for 119 yards in the Wildcats’ 31-28 win in Dublin. Expect Gleeson to try to pound the rock, sustain drives and keep Nebraska’s offense off the field.

And if Noah Vedral returns at quarterback, it gives the running game another dimension.

Linebackers Nick Henrich and Luke Reimer must be disciplined in their gap assignments. If the Huskers aren’t up for the challenge, they could be in for a long night.

2) Nebraska QB Casey Thompson vs. Rutgers’ pass defense

On paper this looks to be an intriguing storyline.

Rutgers pass defense has been good. In fact, really good at times. They held Ohio State to just 161 passing yards — 178 below the Buckeyes season average. They give up just 282 yards per game.

Casey Thompson, while battling some nagging injuries, was solid against Indiana. He threw for 270 yards and 2 scores. His 71-yard deep ball to Trey Palmer was a thing of beauty. When he’s had time to throw, he’s been accurate, on time and productive.

The key will be Nebraska’s offensive line. Can they provide a clean pocket? Thompson has been less than mobile and hasn’t looked to run much. Being dinged up hasn’t helped. Opposing linebackers are playing a yard or 2 further back, protecting against the pass.

Look for Nebraska tight end Travis Vokolek (a Rutgers transfer) to make a big play or 2 in the passing game. Thompson likes to throw his way, and if he can get loose underneath, he can turn a short pass into a big gain.

3) Nebraska receiver Trey Palmer vs. Rutgers’ safety Christian Izien

Izien likely won’t be matched up 1-on-1 much with Palmer. But expect the Scarlet Knights’ defensive leader to be well aware of Palmer’s whereabouts.

Nebraska offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has been crafty about finding different ways to get Palmer the ball. He’s lined up in the slot often, but Whipple has put his star receiver in motion more to help him shake free of defenders.

Izien has been a tackling machine. His 37 tackles on the year lead the team.

He had 15 stops and a pass breakup vs. Iowa on Sept. 24. He’s the undisputed leader of Rutgers’ back-end defense. Expect him not only to fill in run support, but shade to Palmer’s side in the secondary.

Palmer shook loose for a 71-yard TD reception to break a 21-all tie early in the 4th quarter against Indiana. Izien will have watched film on Palmer. He knows Nebraska will take a few deep shots. It’ll be his job to make sure the Scarlet Knights defense gets adjusted and doesn’t get beat deep.

Final thoughts

With several subplots to keep a close eye on, it will likely to be a play or 2 that swings the momentum to one side. In what looks to be close, competitive contest, a key turnover could decide the outcome.

Nebraska played its best game of the year against Indiana. The Huskers enter with newfound confidence and momentum. Can they bring that same swagger on the road? They’re right back in the thick of the mediocre B1G West race. A win boosts their hopes even more.

Rutgers is looking to break through for its first conference win. In order for the Scarlet Knights to get it, they’ll have to be more productive offensively. They’ve scored just 10 points in each B1G game (Iowa, Ohio State). They’ll need quarterback Evan Simon to be at his best if Vedral remains out.

Coach Schiano knows wins will be hard to come by with an arduous schedule remaining. The Scarlet Knights will be underdogs in all but 1 remaining game. They’ll have to seize their opportunities for wins while they still remain.