The Nebraska Cornhuskers can no longer afford to dwell on the fact that their scheduled opener, last week against Akron, was canceled because of bad weather.
Coach Scott Frost’s team needs to focus square ahead on Saturday’s game against the Colorado Buffaloes.
The Buffs (1-0) come to Lincoln on the heels of a 45-13 victory over rival Colorado State in Denver. The CU program has been up and down the past two years. In 2016 Colorado ended years of mediocrity (or worse) by going 10-4 and winning the Pac-12 South Division title. Last season the Buffs slumped back down, losing their last three to finish 5-7 and out of the postseason.
One game is not much to go on, of course, but we’ll judge Colorado by what we know and present the most intriguing matchups when the Cornhuskers and Buffaloes renew their old Big 8/Big 12 rivalry at Memorial Stadium:
WR Stanley Morgan vs. CU secondary
In 2017, Morgan set a school single-season record for Nebraska with 986 receiving yards. Nebraska has some weapons but true freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez is likely to lean on Morgan to make the tough catches against a veteran Colorado secondary (two seniors, two juniors). Colorado’s starting four — cornerbacks Dante Wigley and Delrick Abrams, and safeties Nick Fisher and Evan Worthington — helped hold Colorado State to 181 yards passing last week.
NU’s veteran front seven vs. Young Buffs O-line
The five offensive linemen who started for Colorado in Friday’s game — left tackle Josh Kaiser, left guard Brett Tonz, center Colby Pursell, right guard Tim Lynott and right tackle Aaron Haigler — led the way to 258 yards rushing and 596 total yards against the Rams. But only two of them are returning starters, and the Cornhuskers should prove to be a sterner test with five returning starters in its front seven.
Colorado’s WRs vs. Nebraska secondary
The Buffs were lethal through the air against Colorado State, with Steven Montez passing for 338 yards. More impressive, he had more touchdown passes (four) than either incompletions (two) or interceptions (one) in 25 attempts. Sophomore Laviska Shenault, below, had 211 receiving yards — fourth most for a game in Colorado history — on 11 catches and K.D. Nixon added 112 yards on six catches; each had a score. The Cornhuskers secondary is likely to face a stiff test.
Colorado LB Nate Landman vs. expectations
It’s hard to imagine any player having a better starting debut than Buffs linebacker Nate Landman. The 6-3, 235-pound sophomore was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week after a memorable game. Landman had 14 tackles and an interception against the Rams. Avoiding him might well be a focal point of Nebraska’s offensive scheme.