Nebraska Preview: Cornhuskers Host Northern Illinois
After letting one slip away on the road last week, the Nebraska Cornhuskers play a rare home game under the lights this weekend.
The Huskers (1-1) host Northern Illinois out of the Mid-American Conference, Saturday (September 14).
The Huskies (1-1) are no stranger to playing at Memorial Stadium after coming to Lincoln and shocking Nebraska, 21-17, two years ago.
Northern Illinois has a new head coach, Thomas Hammock, who spent the last five years with the Baltimore Ravens as running backs coach. Before that he was on Big Ten staffs at Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Huskies' quarterback is fifth-year Cal transfer Ross Bowers who has completed 64 percent of his passes in the first two weeks. Tyrice Richie (144 yards, TD in two games) leads a talented group of receivers.
Where Northern Illinois really shines is on defense where they are in the top 15 in the nation on third down and haven't allowed a running back to gain more than 100 yards against them in the last 17 games.
I talked with the 'Voice of the Huskers', Greg Sharpe, about the Huskies and he says they're the real deal:
Kickoff in Lincoln is 7:00 PM, Saturday. You can listen to the game live on ESPN 99.1 after high school football.
Over the years, the Huskers have defended their home turf with great success under the lights at Memorial Stadium, winning 20 of their last 22 and 46 of 53 all-time.
Sharpe says there's something special about playing in Lincoln at night:
Last week, Nebraska dominated the first half on the road at Colorado, racing out to a 17-0 lead on the Buffaloes, before falling 34-31 in overtime.
The Husker defense frustrated Colorado throughout the first 30 minutes, allowing just over 80 yards of total offense. Sharpe said it was an impressive performance by the Blackshirts:
Offensively, Nebraska showed a lot more firepower than they did in the opener against South Alabama, putting together a pair of long touchdown drives that Sharpe really admired:
Even the Huskers' kicking game, without injured placekicker Barret Pickering, fared well in the first half with punter Isaac Armstrong connecting on a pair of extra points and a 26-yard field goal.
Sharpe wasn't surprised by Armstrong's success but says the Huskers special teams have to tweak things a bit with him kicking:
After building a 17-0 halftime lead, some of the Nebraska players later admitted that they let their foot off the gas a bit in the second half. That's something Sharpe noticed as well:
Colorado took advantage of Nebraska's lack of intensity in the second half, sacking Huskers quarterback Adrian Martinez six times and forcing a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers, while the Buffaloes offense scored 31 points in the final 17 minutes to force overtime where they eventually won it.
Sharpe says it all began with the CU defensive pressure: