Rutgers vs. Nebraska
Bobby Deren Scarlet Nation
Sean Callahan Husker Online
Rutgers is improving on offense, but it’s not a unit that can relied upon to carry the team to a win just yet. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s offensive line has also had its share of struggles. At this point in the season, potent is not the best word to describe either offense. I am going to call this one a draw.
Which team will have the more potent offense?
Neither team really comes into this game with a great offense when you look at the first three games. I think you still probably have to give the edge though to Nebraska, but their issues up front and potentially not having starting running back Tre Bryant make this a very close call.
Kyle Bolin. He threw four interceptions in the first two losses and if he repeats that performance today, it is not likely to end well for Rutgers. Expect to see freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis get his share of reps as well, but Bolin is still the starter. For Rutgers to pull off a win, Bolin will have to play well.
Who is the offensive “X” factor?
The offensive “X” factor for Nebraska has to be quarterback Tanner Lee. After having a strong first game against Arkansas State, Lee has thrown a FBS-high seven interceptions. For the Husker offense to click on Saturday they need to turn that around and play at a much more efficient level.
The Rutgers defense has been an upgrade all around this year and the defensive line is at the head of that resurgence. The unit played well enough for Rutgers to win against Eastern Michigan and only allowed 23 points to No.7 Washington, 20 of which came in the second half when the unit was tiring. Nebraska has also been solid as of late and may have a very slight edge at this point.
Which team has the better defense?
Statistically on paper Rutgers looks like the better unit, but Nebraska’s defense over the last six quarters of football has only given 7 points and less than 400 yards of total offense. A lot of their numbers are skewed because of how many yards they gave up in the first six quarters against Arkansas State and Oregon. They have been a fairly consistent unit since that point.
Kemoko Turay. The Nebraska offensive line is vulnerable and the senior defensive end is due for a breakout game. If Turay can apply consistent pressure to Tanner Lee, it could turn out to be huge for Rutgers. Turay came out and played a very lively opening game, but was rather quiet the last two games. He will need to make some noise again today.
Who is the defensive “x” factor?
This is a tough one, because Nebraska really doesn’t have a defensive star on this unit they really lean on. I would say outside linebacker Luke Gifford has kind of been that guy though over the first three game with what he’s meant to the overall defense. Another name to watch will be nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg.
The Rutgers special teams units are all showing tremendous signs of improvement. Justin Davidovicz is an upgrade on kickoffs, Ryan Anderson is RU’s best punter in years and Andrew Harte has made his last three field goal attempts. Then there is Janarion Grant on kickoff and punt returns and he is able to break one on any given play. The Scarlet Knights’ kickoff coverage is improving and they have the edge on special teams.
Who has the edge on special teams?
In the return game, you have to go Rutgers with Janarion Grant. Nebraska has really struggled this season in the punt return game with making decisions on when to field punts, etc. However, I think the Huskers have the edge in punting and place kicking. Drew Brown and Caleb Lightbourn have been pretty good over the first three weeks, however Brown did have a field goal blocked last week against Northern Illinois.
Rutgers had a chance to pull out a couple late drives against Eastern Michigan, but turnovers and penalties doomed the offense and led to a defeat. Until Bolin can show that he can lead the offense downfield in a critical situation, the edge here will have to go to the Huskers and their quarterback Tanner Lee.
If the game comes down to a final drive, which team drives the length of the field?
It’s really not been a situation we’ve seen Nebraska execute very well at all this season. In losses to Oregon and Northern Illinois the Huskers have fallen flat in the 2-minute situations. With that said, Tanner Lee is still a talented quarterback, but he needs time to throw, and that hasn’t been the case much through three games.
This is going to be a case of which team makes fewer mistakes. Rutgers is on the road for the first time this season and this is a young team that still needs to learn how to win. This one will be close, but the Huskers will make a few more plays. Nebraska 23 Rutgers 17.
Which team will win?
I think this is going to be an ugly game. There are going to be some moments that don’t look pretty for either team, but I think at home a desperate Nebraska team will pull it. Nebraska 27 Rutgers 20.