The Corner Table returns to talk about the Nebraska Cornhuskers and UCLA Bruins facing off tomorrow at Memorial Stadium. I caught up with Husker Corner staff writers Jimmie Allen and Joshua Shaw to talk about what we should expect in the game.
Do you think the team is looking for revenge in this game or are they treating it like any other game?
John Ackeren: I would hope that redeeming themselves of last years debacle would be a point of emphasis for the Huskers. It doesn’t matter what coaches and players have said this week, revenge has to be on their minds. The entire nation will be watching this game Saturday morning and a lot is riding on the results. Nebraska should be out for blood in this one.
Josh Shaw: Coach Pelini did not say in his press conference that revenge is a factor. With that being said, I know the players have it in their heads to get a victory over UCLA after last season’s loss.
Jimmie Allen: From everything coming out of practice this week, the players are looking at this game as the biggest game of the year. Nebraska has deep roots in the state of California with so many California natives on the roster. I think this game just means more. Nebraska is just getting into rivalries with new foes in the Big 10, and with the Divisions splitting yet again next season, Nebraska still doesn’t have a true rivalry until the Huskers play Wisconsin every year.
Michigan is obviously the biggest game of the 2013 season. That game is 8 weeks away, and Nebraska does not play another top 25 team till the week before Michigan, which is Northwestern at home, and it’s a question if the Wildcats will even be ranked by week 9.
What do you think the Huskers offense will try to establish early, the passing game or running the football?
John Ackeren: I think Nebraska should set up it’s power rushing attack by passing the ball early. UCLA has an inexperienced defensive backfield. With the Huskers weapons at wide receiver, those guys should set the tone early. If Taylor Martinez is hitting Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, and Jamal Turner for big plays early it will allow Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross, and Terrell Newby to rack up a ton of rushing yards in the process.
Josh Shaw: I think because the UCLA defense is strong up front Nebraska will pass the ball against the young Bruins secondary. Then look for the Huskers to run later in the game.
Jimmie Allen: Nebraska will have to get the run game going early and often. To me the key player for Nebraska’s offense is Kenny Bell. For him to be a factor in this game, Ameer Abdullah and Taylor Martinez will have to get the job done on the ground first to open up the plays down the field.
UCLA Quarterback Brett Hundley is a duel threat, how much trouble will Nebraska’s defense have containing him?
John Ackeren: It depends on what personnel Bo Pelini and John Papuchis put on the field. If you have Randy Gregory and Zaire Anderson coming off the edge and getting to Hundley it could be an easy day for Nebraska. The play from Nebraska’s secondary will be key as well. If they can shut down Shaq Evans and the other Bruin receivers it will help the d line and the backers key on the run.
Josh Shaw: Nebraska has more speed than it has in years past, but Hundley will put up points. If the defense can wrap him up it won’t be as severe as last years performance.
Jimmie Allen: The one thing I have been surprised by this season is who Nebraska has played at Linebacker. I really thought the two open spots at linebacker would go to Michael Rose and Jared Afalava. True freshmen Nathan Gerry has made enough waves through two games to be a possible candidate for Big 10 Freshmen defensive player of the year. His pass rushing ability, and his ability to get to the edge may be what keeps Brent Hundley, a possible Heisman candidate, in check on Saturday. The most important player for Nebraska is going to be No. 25 in red.
It’s prediction time. Who wins, whats the score, and who is the MVP of the game?
John Ackeren: I like Nebraska to win this one at home. If it were being played on the road I would probably lean the other way. I think it comes down to Nebraska’s skill position players being a touch better than UCLA’s. Expect Taylor Martinez to have his best passing game of the season. He could finish upwards of 300-350 yards passing with three or four touchdown passes. He won’t be the games MVP, that will go to Jamal Turner who finishes with a hundred yards receiving and two touchdowns. Huskers win 48-42.
Josh Shaw: I think the Huskers win this one 41-31. Taylor Martinez will have two touchdowns through the air and one rushing score to cap a breakthrough victory for the Huskers.
Jimmie Allen: I am picking Nebraska to win this game. It will be close, I just think with Nebraska adjusting to motions last week so well, the emergence of Gerry, and the 11 a.m. kickoff will be too much for UCLA.