I know, I know- Johnny Football isn’t playing in this one. But quite frankly, I think the Alabama-A&M game has already gotten more than its share of media attention, and UCLA should probably be getting more press on the East Coast. Plus, this is the rare game featuring a Pac-12 team that doesn’t start at 9pm or later in the Eastern time zone.
When UCLA Has The Ball
Look up “dual-threat quarterback” in the dictionary, and there might as well be a picture of sophomore Brett Hundley. In the Bruins’ lone game this season, a 58-20 win over Nevada, Hundley passed for 274 yards and rushed for 63. Senior Jordon James and Hundley’s high-school teammate Paul Perkins combined for another 210 rushing yards. Clearly, Nebraska is going to need to focus on stopping the run, and possibly using a defensive back as a spy on Hundley. The passing game numbers aren’t as impressive- Shaquelle Evans is the leading receiver with 81 yards- but that may be more indicative of the Bruins not wanting to run up the score against Nevada than an actual weakness. The receiving core is impressively deep, with six players having at least 20 yards against Nevada, and many of them got those yards on just one or two receptions. Pressuring Hundley and making him throw before his receivers can get open on those intermediate and deep routes will be important. When the two faced off in the Rose Bowl last January, UCLA racked up a 653 total yards in their 36-30 win over the Huskers; Hundley alone passed for 305 yards and four TDs.
When Nebraska Has The Ball
Senior quarterback Taylor Martinez is, like Hundley, a true dual threat. Against the Bruins last season, Martinez ran for a 92-yard touchdown. The other main threat on the ground is Ameer Abdullah, who takes over for the departed Rex Burkhead. Last year, as a starter only part of the season, Abdullah had 1,137 yards and eight TDs. The receiver unit for the Huskers is deep and fairly experienced, with juniors Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner and senior Quincy Enunwa combining for 1,750 yards and 12 TDs last season. On the other side of the field, UCLA’s front seven are tough and talented. The secondary is pretty much an unknown, with just a handful of career starts among them. As long as the Huskers’ offensive line can give Martinez time, he should be able to rack up the passing yardage.
One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that UCLA lost a member of their team this past week. Wide receiver Nick Pasquale, a freshman, was hit by a car and killed while walking early last Sunday morning. Obviously, his teammates are grieving and will continue to do so. Expect the Bruins to come out ready to play for their fallen teammate and friend. On paper, I like Nebraska to win the game, but when you add in the human factor, I expect UCLA to play extremely hard. UCLA 41, Nebraska 38
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