Nebraska Preview: Cornhuskers Host #22 Oregon
If the 2016 Nebraska Cornhuskers want to be included in the discussion of the nation's top football teams, they need a win Saturday.
For the first time this season, the Huskers face a ranked opponent as #22 Oregon comes to Memorial Stadium.
The Ducks (2-0), out of the Pac-12 Conference, aren't the same team that competed for National Championships under Chip Kelly a few years ago, but they are still very proficient on offense.
Oregon's offense is eighth in the nation after beating Virginia 44-26 last week. In that game, the Ducks rolled up 632 yards of total offense, as quarterback Dakota Prukop threw for 331 yards with three touchdowns, completing 21-of-31 passes. South Dakota State fans remember Prokup, who started for Montana State when the Jackrabbits beat the Bobcats in the FCS Playoffs in 2014.
The Ducks fast-paced offense features a number of other weapons.
Running back Royce Freeman picked up 207 yards against Virginia and scored twice. Wide receiver Devon Allen, who finished fifth in the 100 meter hurdles at the Rio Summer Olympics, caught four passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, while Darren Carrington II leads the team with 11 receptions in two games.
Big plays have been the calling card of the Ducks offense with 83 plays of 20 yards or more since the beginning of last season.
Oregon's offensive line is very young, with three redshirt freshman in the starting lineup. Saturday's game in Lincoln will be the first road test for this group, with more than 90,000 Husker fans trying to make it very difficult to hear.
The defense is still trying to learn new coordinator Brady Hoke's 4-3 scheme, but the Ducks have been able to get to the quarterback this season, with six different players combining for eight sacks. Lineman Jalen Jelks had two in the Virginia game.
Oregon has struggled with giving up big plays. Virginia did pick up 11 yards or more on ten different runs last week.
Kickoff against Oregon is 2:30 PM, Saturday, in Lincoln. The game will mark the 350th consecutive sellout in the history of Memorial Stadium.
You can follow the Huskers live, all season long on ESPN 99.1.
A pass-happy Nebraska offense scored early and often last week in a 52-17 win over Wyoming.
The Huskers raced out to a 17-0 first half lead thanks to a number of big plays.
In the first 30 minutes of the game Tommy Armstrong hit Alonzo Moore for a 63-yard touchdown, completed a 55-tard pass to Jordan Westekamp, a 39-yarder to Divine Ozigbo, and a 38-yarder to Brandon Reilly. By halftime, Nebraska had thrown for 277 yards.
Armstrong finished the day 20-of-34 for 377 yards. His three touchdown passes moved him into first place on Nebraska's all-time list.
But despite that offensive juggernaut, Wyoming trailed just 17-10 at halftime, and despite throwing a pair of third quarter interceptions, including a pick-six to Nebraska's Kieron Willians, was still down just seven (24-17) heading into the fourth quarter.
That's when the Big Red defense took over, picking off Cowboy quarterback Josh Allen on three consecutive fourth quarter possessions. Sioux Falls native Nate Gerry had two of those picks. Nebraska's defense recorded six turnovers on the day.
With all of those gifts from the defense, the Husker offense put up 28 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes to secure the 35-point win.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers', Greg Sharpe, about this week's match-up with Oregon: