NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (1-0)
at OREGON DUCKS (1-0)
Autzen Stadium – Eugene, OR
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Line: Oregon -10.0, Total: N/A
Oregon will be hoping to improve to 2-0 under new head coach Willie Taggart with a win at home over Nebraska on Saturday.
Nebraska opened the season with a surprisingly close game against Arkansas State, but the Cornhuskers were able to come away with a 43-36 victory in that one. They were favored by 14.5 in that game, so they definitely won’t be satisfied with the way they played and must clean things up heading into this meeting with Oregon. The Ducks were 31-point favorites against Southern Utah last week and came away with a 77-21 victory in that one. The team rushed for 348 yards in that game and also added 355 yards through the air. They certainly seemed to be enjoying Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense and will now look to get revenge for last year’s 35-32 loss to Nebraska in Lincoln. The spread in that game was only three, so it ended in a push. This year, however, has a double-digit point spread and that has a lot to do with the way each team looked in the first game of the year. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is that road underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points that had a winning record last season (Nebraska) are 40-11 against the spread in the first month of the season after closing out their previous year with two or more straight losses.
Nebraska is coming off of a 43-36 victory over Arkansas State and new starting QB Tanner Lee was as solid as could be in that one. Lee was 19-for-32 for 238 yards with two touchdowns and no picks there. If he can play mistake-free football on Saturday then that would be huge for the Cornhuskers. The team will, however, need Lee to make some big plays against a team that will almost definitely put up 40 or more points in this one. Another guy that must play well in this one is RB Tre Bryant. Bryant was unbelievable in the opener, rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. He should have plenty of chances to make plays against a Ducks defense that has talented players but also makes a bunch of mistakes. On defense, the Cornhuskers must be ready to stop the run here. The Ducks are fully capable of throwing the football, but they are going to be a team that rides Royce Freeman this season. And if Freeman gets going then it will open up Oregon’s passing game, so the Huskers must at least contain him.
The Gulf Coast Offense debuted in Oregon last week and the results were rather impressive. RB Royce Freeman rushed for 150 yards with four touchdowns against Southern Utah and if he is back to playing like he did in 2015 then this Ducks team could turn things around sooner rather than later. Freeman is as explosive as any running back in the Pac-12, but he does struggle to stay healthy. For now, he looks 100% and the hope is that he can stay that way. As for the passing game, QB Justin Herbert is a great fit for Taggart’s system. In his first game with his new head coach, Herbert was 17-for-21 for 281 yards and a touchdown. He is a mobile guy and that has teams worried about him taking off. That helps a guy like Freeman operate out of the backfield. On defense, the Ducks just need to make sure they can stop the run here. Nebraska has a talented quarterback, but the team does not have a very creative passing attack.