Nebraska (4-2) at Northwestern (6-1)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ryan Field (47,130) -- Evanston, Illinois.
Television: ABC (ESPN 2 Mirror). Home Record: Nebraska 4-0, Northwestern 4-0.
Away Record: Nebraska 0-2, Northwestern 2-1. Neutral Record: Nebraska 0-0,
Northwestern 0-0. Conference Record: Nebraska 1-1, Northwestern 2-1. Series
Record: Nebraska leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Big Ten Conference Legends Division foes attempt to gain
ground on the league leaders on Saturday afternoon when the Northwestern
Wildcats play host to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Nebraska started the season ranked in the AP Top-25, but is now on the outside
looking in thanks to losses to UCLA on Sept. 8 (36-30) and Ohio State on Oct.
6 (63-38). Both of those defeats came in the Cornhuskers' only two road games
to this point.
Northwestern bounced back nicely from its first loss of the season on Oct. 6
at Penn State (39-28) by pulling off an impressive road victory at Minnesota
last week, 21-13. The Wildcats are unbeaten at Ryan Field this season, and
have won six of their last seven in Evanston dating back to last season.
Entering play this week, they are the only Big Ten team to have already become
The Cornhuskers lead the all-time series, 3-2. Northwestern won last year's
inaugural Legends Division matchup in Lincoln, 28-25. Nebraska hasn't played
in Evanston since 1931.
Both in terms of points per game (43.7) and yards per game (507.3), Nebraska
has the top offense in the Big Ten. It has been consistent as well, scoring 30
or more points in all six games.
Taylor Martinez has been stellar under center, completing 66.4 percent of his
passes for 1,273 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for another 338 yards
and five scores. He only has four interceptions on the season, but three of
those picks came in the team's last loss to Ohio State.
The Cornhuskers have a revolving door of reliable runners, with five players
recording at least 200 rushing yards and more than one touchdown. Ameer
Abdullah (86 carries, 514 yards, seven TDs) garners most of the backfield
Kenny Ball (20 receptions, 463 yards, four TDs) is one of the top receivers in
the conference, but no other player averages more than 30 receiving yards per
The defensive effort (27.7 ppg, 367 ypg) had been largely impressive up until
it's last game when the unit surrendered seven offensive touchdowns in a
blowout loss to Ohio State.
Will Compton quarterbacks the defense and has recorded 53 tackles, six tackles
for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery. Eric Martin is the team's best
pass rusher with eight tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Northwestern's offense (31.1 ppg) has also been clicking in the first half of
the season and much like Nebraska's, it is highly reliant on the run with
228.4 of its 407.9 ypg coming on the ground.
Venric Mark is one of the busiest backs in the country with 134 carries for
792 yards and eight touchdowns, and he is coming off a career-high 182 yards
last week against Minnesota.
Quarterback Kain Colter has been very effective with his limited amount of
passes (55-of-78, 432 yards, two TDs, INT) but most of his damage comes in the
rushing game where he's piled up 421 yards and eight scores. Trevor Siemian is
the more conventional quarterback (80-of-127, 811 yards), but he has just two
No Wildcat receiver ranks in the top 20 in the conference in yards. Tony Jones
(18 receptions, 230 yards, TD) and Demetrius Fields (25 receptions, 211 yards,
TD) come the closest.
The NU defense (22.1 ppg) is coming off one of its strongest efforts of the
season in allowing just 13 points and 327 yards to Minnesota.
Damien Proby (62 tackles) and Chi Chi Ariguzo (59 tackles, 6.5 TFL, sack, INT,
two FR) are high-impact linebackers, and Tyler Scott (7.5 TFL, six sacks,
three FF) is an outstanding pass rusher.
Both teams have a lot to prove in this matchup and want to show that they
belong in the conversation regarding the Big Ten's best. Expect both rushing
attacks to be in full force, but with a rowdy sold-out home crowd on its side,
Northwestern will prevail in this matchup for the second straight year.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 34, Nebraska 31
10/17 10:43:29 ET