Nebraska offense vs. UCLA defense
Can Taylor Martinez do it again? Will he need to? UCLA knows to expect a more-accurate and improved arm from the Nebraska junior quarterback, so the Bruins won’t likely let Martinez get comfortable. Expect more pressure and blitzing, which could open some holes in the Bruins’ defense. UCLA, in recent seasons, has had difficulty with the option and zone-read, areas Nebraska can excel in but showed little of last week.
Nebraska defense vs. UCLA offense
Let’s hold off on the parade for the UCLA offense. The Bruins’ 646 total yards against Rice is nearly twice what they’ve averaged over the last five years combined (329 yards). During that span, UCLA has ranked between No. 72 and No. 111 in total offense. And Rice? No higher than 107th in total defense among FBS teams the last seven years. Of course, Nebraska hasn’t exactly been dominant on defense. The Huskers should be concerned about a fast, powerful running back in Johnathan Franklin and the dual-threat ability of redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, who will likely test Nebraska’s secondary more than Southern Miss did.
Nothing pretty for either team last week. UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn had three extra-point attempts blocked, and Nebraska’s Brett Maher missed two makeable field goals and shanked a 21-yard punt. Which kicker earns redemption? We’ll be interested to see what personnel changes Nebraska makes on its kickoff coverage unit, which, dating to last season, hasn’t been sound.
It’s the home opener for a new coaching regime at UCLA, and some believe that will put a little extra jolt of energy into the Bruins. That jolt won’t likely come from the crowd. The spacious Rose Bowl may be a little more than half-full, and who knows how many fans will be dressed in red? UCLA players may be ready, but Nebraska has something to prove, too: No more letdowns after impressive victories.