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Nebraska at UCLA Preview & Discussion

Nebraska at UCLA Preview & Discussion

Several weeks ago I made a futures wager on UCLA +7 against Nebraska. The game will be played this Saturday in the Rose Bowl. I thought I was getting the best of a bad line and when the game opened yesterday at 4.5 I thought I had been proven correct.

However, the spread is currently up to 5 at some spots and appears to be rising. I still doubt it gets to 7, but we may see it get as high as 6 points.

Both teams looked impressive in their season openers last week, albeit against vastly inferior teams. UCLA opened up on the road at Rice and gained 646 yards against an outmanned Owls defense.

Redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley looked good in his debut, completing 21 passes in 28 attempts for 202 yards and 2 TDs vs 1 int. But the real offensive star for the Bruins was RB Johnathan Franklin who rushed for 214 yards on 15 carries (14.3 ypr) and 3 TDs. The Bruins have a deep backfield.

Nebraska rolled over a Southern Miss team in Lincoln that had lost nearly every key player from last year’s 13-2 CUSA Championship team. Husker QB Taylor Martinez was 26 of 34 for 354 yards and 5 TDs and the Cornhuskers finished with 632 yards of total offense.

Nebraska at UCLA

UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin

So what can we expect this Saturday in the Rose Bowl? 

First, Nebraska star running back Rex Burkhead left the Southern Miss game in the first half with an MCL sprain and is listed as day-to-day. What will his status be for Saturday’s game and even if he does play, will he be 100%?

Another issue for the Cornhuskers is their recent struggles against dual-threat QBs. In each of Nebraska’s 4 losses last year they faced a dual-threat QB; Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Northwestern’s Kain Colter, Michigan’s Denard Robinsn and South Carolina’s Connor Shaw. And as I recall Ohio State’s freshman QB Braxton Miller was leading the Buckeyes to victory in Lincoln before he was injured and lost for the remainder of the game.

The biggest concern for UCLA is their defense. Last week the Owls didn’t have any problem in the first half finding holes in the UCLA secondary. I’ve never worried too much about Taylor Martinez as a passer, but he did looked improved last week.

Based on last week’s numbers this game could turn into a shootout. I don’t think either defense is very good. Right now I like my chances of getting UCLA and a TD and think they have a good chance to win this game outright.

Let’s get some viewpoints from others for this marquee Big 10 vs PAC 12 showdown.

– Pez


10 Responses to “Nebraska at UCLA Preview & Discussion”

  1. Conan says:

    Here are some numbers to keep in mind. I commented in my favorite forum that Jim Mora has the Bruins playing inspired football all over the field… now to the numbers.

    From game 1 last week…

    8 – # of plays the Bruin’s defense tackled their opponent for a loss (24th ranked)
    1 – UCLA’s conference rank in sacks (6)
    3 – Johnathan Franklin’s rank among the nation’s leading rushers. (214 yards)
    3 – UCLA’s national rank in total offense (646 yards)
    4 – UCLA’s national rank in rushing yards (343)
    28 – QB Brett Hundley’s rank in passing efficiency

    That’s a pretty good indication of what I mean when I said Jim Mora has the Bruins playing inspired football all over the field.

    Sure it’s just week 1 but it is still worth noting because everyone else has a week 1 too.

    • SoonerBS says:

      It was not only week #1, but it was week #1 against an inferior Rice team who returned only 10 starters off last season’s 4-8 team. I guess I am just being skeptical, but I’m not ready to tout UCLA as the new “team on the scene” just yet.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      The main thing that stands out to me and that I keep coming back to is that despite Rice being a really bad football team, we haven’t seen UCLA look this good, especially on offense, against any level of competition in the Neuheisel era.

      We’ll find out a lot more about the Bruins this Saturday because Nebraska will certainly challenge them, especially defensively. Though I will still hold out judgment on whether or not Martinez has improved his passing until after he plays a better defensive team than Southern Miss.

  2. Conan says:

    Hmmm, now that you mention it, wasn’t UCLA the only team in college football history last season to play in a bowl and wind up with 8 losses. They are probably better off without bringing back a host of last year’s starters and in spite of their OL’s lack of depth, their front 7 on defense represents most of their roster too. The question is what have the S&C coaches and position coaches been doing lately? I didn’t notice many players walking around with their hands on their hips in the Rice game, but I suppose it would be worth watching this time with even more vigilance. I know I have to count on UCLA lighting up at home to stay motivated… and fresh vs the Huskers?

    The Bruins still maintain a pretty good secondary, Maybe they can come up with a pick 6 or two to lighten the load. Those big rushing numbers won’t be as easy to come by vs Nebraska’s defense but maybe Hundley’s passing game can open things up and light up UCLA’s rushing game a little. I don’t see Johnathan Franklin running for another 223 yards this week either… maybe 140 yards will be enough?

  3. Xmas32 says:

    Nebraska resident here, I’m really curious to see how Nebraska’s defense attacks UCLA. As Pez mentioned, they got torched by dual threat QBs last year. I’m really not all that worried about Hundley throwing the ball because he’s a true frosh and Nebraska’s secondary is actually supposed to be pretty good this year. Of course, if NU can’t stop the zone read, it won’t matter. On the flip side, I really can’t see UCLA stopping Nebraska, especially if Martinez is able to maintain his newfound throwing prowness. Losing Burkhead hurts, but Abdullah and Heard are much bigger home run threats than Burkhead (although Burkhead is a beast between the tackles). I think you’re going to have a sweat with +7 honestly, there will be zero home field advantage with 20,000+ Nebraska fans showing up for this game. I’d prefer to bet the over, but I wish you the best of luck with your +7.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      Xmas32, thanks for the comment and insight. UCLA stopping Nebraska is definitely my biggest concern in this game. The Bruin D on paper is loaded with talent, but they sure haven’t done much to live up to their recruiting hype.

      I also agree that the over should be considered. Both these offenses looked pretty sharp last week against out-manned competition.

      I do disagree that UCLA will have zero home field advantage. I personally believe their is a lot more to a home field advantage then just the crowd. You have familiar surroundings for the home team, the burden of travel for the visitors, familiar “game week” routine for the home team, etc.

      Now granted the crowd does play a big part of the home field advantage equation,and w/ 20,000 Nebraska fans in the Rose Bowl, that will certainly help minimize the effect. But I believe UCLA still has a pretty solid home field advantage in this game.

      Thanks again for your comment,


  4. GoSooners GoSooners says:

    I know the California beach set are usually laid back, but I think they’ll probably be pretty rowdy for this game. The thing is, not that many good out of conference teams come to LA to play the Bruins. OU was the last bigtime program that I know of to come out there. And the Rose Bowl was rocking and OU got beat. I’m not counting Texas from last year since they were coming off a losing season, so the excitement level probably wasn’t that high. I think this is a pretty interesting matchup. I was impressed with Martinez last week. And I do think the Huskers will have some success on offense, even though I’m still not sure Martinez has a “go to” receiver yet that he can depend on. The most telling stat last week was Nebraska giving up 185 yards rushing and about 4 ypc. They better tighten that up in a hurry or UCLA will run all over them. With a team giving points on the road against a BCS team that will more than likely have a winning record this year, you’ve got to have a good rush defense. I didn’t see it last season with Nebraska (gave up 171 ypg rushing). And so far I’m not seeing it this year. I guarantee you UCLA has a better O-Line than Southern Miss. And Jonathan Franklin is a hell of a RB. The numbers speak for themselves. It may have only been Rice, but we’re talking about 343 yards rushing for UCLA last week on the road. That’s why I feel they have a fighting chance here.

  5. alkimyst says:

    Love Running Dogs!


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