Stadium: Memorial Stadium (81,091)
2011 Record: 9-4
2012 Record: 4-1
Head Coach: Bo Pelini (5th year at Nebraska, 43-17)
Letterman Returning: (56; lost - 28)
Returning Starters: Offense - 7 ; Defense - 7; Specialists - 1
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace & Power I
Johnny Carson, TV personality
Tom Osborune - Football coach; winner of 3 National Championships
Warren Buffet - Investor and philanthropist
Johnny Rogers - Pro football player; Heisman Trophy winner
John Pershing - Famous U.S. Army general
Ndamukong Suh - Pro football player; winner of multiple college awards
Cheerleader Scouting Report:
The junior from California has always been able to run the ball and has over 1900 yards rushing and 24 TD's in his career. This year he sprinted to a 92 yard touchdown against UCLA. Passing has been the issue with Taylor in the past but he has greatly improved and is throwing for 211.8 ypg this season, hitting 67.8% of his passes with 11 TD's and only 1 interception in 2012.
A 210 pound senior from Plano, Texas, Burkhead hurt Ohio State last year and brings toughness and surprising speed to the Cornhusker backfield. After rushing for over 1400 yards in 2011, Burkhead missed some action this season, but is back healthy again, and is averaging 9.4 yards per carry thus far in 2012. The Silver Bullets need to be ready to tackle in space against him on Saturday night.
A super quick sophomore from Alabama, Ameer can hurt an opponent in numerous ways. So far this season he has rushed for 486 yards and 5 TD's, caught 9 passes for 100 yards and another touchdown, averaged 28.4 yards on kickoff returns, and returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown. Needless to say it is imperative that both the defense and special teams keep track of Abdullah the entire game.
This tough 230 pound fifth-year senior was Nebraska's leading returning tackler, finishing 2011 with 82 stops including 7 for loss. Thus far this year Compton has 44 tackles, with 6 for loss and 3 sacks. He has also broken up a couple of passes and recovered a fumble. There is no doubt he will be active in the middle and will attempt to slow down Braxton Miller and the OSU running game.
Stafford is a senior safety who came to Nebraska a year ago from junior college and jumped right into the starting lineup. He possesses nice size at 6'1", 205, and seems to have a nose for the ball. A year ago he had 80 tackles and 10 pbus, and thus far in 2012 Daimion has 32 tackles, a sack, 4 passes broken up and a fumble recovery. He will be vital in both defending the run and the pass against the Buckeyes.
Once again this week a native Buckeye with OSU ties makes their way to the sideline. Pelini is a Youngstown Cardinal Mooney grad who played 4 seasons at safety in Columbus, graduating in 1990, after serving as one of the team captains. He is in his fifth year at Nebraska and is 43-17. Considered a defensive guru, it is surprising that the Cornhuskers are stronger on offense than defense again this year.
The red-clad Cornhuskers of Nebraska invade Columbus on Saturday night and the 'Shoe should be rocking for this 8 pm kickoff. Two of the best teams in the B1G are mirror images of one another in many ways. Both feature athletic quarterbacks that are developing their passing skills to match their running ability. Both can be explosive but sometimes battle offensive inconsistency. And both have defenses that are fast but seem to have trouble tackling in space, and are prone to giving up big plays. So buckle up and get ready for a fast-paced high scoring game in a great atmosphere.
Nebraska is led by junior Taylor Martinez at quarterback, and though they may not depend on him quite as much as the Bucks do Braxton Miller, he is the key cog of the offense. Though he can be erratic at times throwing the ball, his mechanics are greatly improved and that has translated into nice numbers thus far in 2012.
Behind Martinez the Cornhuskers bring, not one, but two bonafide threats at tailback. The veteran is Rex Burkhead who gouged the Buckeye defense repeatedly last year in Lincoln. He is a fine runner, but I am even more concerned with Ameer Abdullah, who is super quick and a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. Good form tackling is a necessity against these backs.
The receivers aren't as good as the backs, but they aren't bad. The home run hitter is sophomore Kenny Bell, who has 15 catches for 330 yards and 4 TD's. Meanwhile Quincy Enunwa is becoming a fine possession receiver and has hauled in 16 catches, good for 173 yards and 1 touchdown. Tight end Kyler Reed also gets involved in the passing game as his numbers indicate (11, 141, 2). When the Huskers want to play smash mouth football they use the bigger Ben Cotton at tight end, though he can also catch the ball.
Nebraska is famous for corn-fed offensive lines, and while this isn't there biggest line and doesn't have a lot of big names, it is productive as evidenced by the 305.8 yards per game the Cornhuskers are averaging each game on the ground. The best of the bunch is right guard Spencer Long, who was 2nd Team B1G a year ago. As a unit they work well together and have helped the team average 521 yards and nearly 45 points per contest. Even minus the 73 they put up on Idaho State this has been an explosive offense that will test Ohio State.
The famed black shirt defense has not been up to snuff the past couple of years, much to the chagrin of fans in Lincoln. This year they are surrendering over 20 points per game, as UCLA rang them up for 36 and Wisconsin looked on their way to matching that number before faltering in the fourth quarter.
Up front there is no Ndamukong Suh but there is talent. Nose tackle Baker Steinkuhler clogs the middle and has 20 tackles with 5 for loss. Ends Cameron Meredith and Eric Martin are also returning starters and have combined for 5.5 sacks so far this year. Overall Nebraska has registered 19 sacks so they can bring the heat.
The linebacking corps is solid even with the loss of last year's star Lavonte David. Middle 'backer Will Compton is the main man here, though the guys on the outside, Alonzo Whaley and Sean Fisher are solid.
Teams have averaged 153 yards per game at 3.6 per carry, so they can be run against but are pretty reliable.
In the defensive backfield Nebraska had to replace two starters, but seems to be getting the job done. Opponents have thrown for 188 yards per game but only hit on 50.6% of their attempts. Safeties Daimion Stafford and P.J. Smith are the second and third leading tacklers on the team, while corners Andrew Green and Ciante Evans are better than average in coverage.
On special teams the Huskers rely on Brett Maher who does the punting and kicking. Although the punting has been solid, his kicking has not been up to last year's standards, as Maher is 7-12 thus far in 2012. He did, however, nail all four of his attempts last week. The return game is lethal with Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell. Abdullah returned a kick the distance last year and has taken a punt to the house so far in 2012. Drew Basil would be wise to kick it deep and allow Nebraska to start at the 25.
A week ago the Buckeyes took on what is probably the best defense in the B1G and this week they take on possibly the best offense. Make no mistake about it, Nebraska is explosive and Urban Meyer has praised them repeatedly this week. While the Silver Bullets shut down La'Veon Bell and MSU a week ago, this is a bigger challenge because the Cornhuskers test the edges and look to get outside in space. They will run the ball with Martinez, Burkhead and Abdullah, and seek to gash an OSU defense that is not known for great tackling. And just when you are committed to stop the run, Martinez will hit you with intermediate passes, and even mix in a bomb or two. The hope is that you can force him into some mistakes. While he has only thrown one interception, the team has fumbled 9 times, with some of them being quarterback-tailback exchanges. Ohio State needs to pressure Martinez, force a couple of turnovers, and not allow long drives. Sure, the Cornhuskers will dial up a couple of big plays - that is their game - but that won't beat the Buckeyes in and of itself.
Offensively Braxton Miller must take better care of the ball. This game won't be won with 17 points, and so Ohio State must maximize their possessions. I think last year showed that Miller can run against this defense, and had he not been hurt the Buckeyes would have left Lincoln with a win. I also think that Carlos Hyde can have success running in the seams, behind an improving line. If the run game is established then the deep ball to Smith becomes a distinct possibility. UCLA exposed the Nebraska defense earlier in the year, with over 300 yards both through the air and on the ground, so Miller and company should be able to find success Saturday night if they hold onto the ball and don't shoot themselves in the foot.
I look for a back and forth contest, with highs and lows for both teams, but the night atmosphere in Columbus should hopefully put the Buckeyes over the top.
Father vs. Son Prediction Battle:
Dave: OSU 30, Nebraska 27
Drew: OSU 31, Nebraska 24