Week 3 Weekend Matchup: 22 Oregon Ducks vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium
When: September 17, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC
Vegas Over/Under: Nebraska -3
A rivalry that heated up during the offseason between the Oregon Ducks and Nebraska Cornhuskers, will finally culminate when they faceoff in a much anticipated matchup on Saturday.
During the offseason, Nebraska offensive lineman Tanner Famer tweeted “Oregon will be our first big test and I’m completely confident that we should go in there and beat the crap out of them.”
In addition, Terry Wilson who de-committed from Nebraska almost a year ago and joined the Oregon Ducks will be making his first return to Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday.
Nebraska’s Head Coach Mike Riley and Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker have some familiarity with the Oregon Ducks, both being former coaches at Oregon State University, the Ducks’ in-state rival. In the seven times Riley and Banker faced off against the Ducks (losing all seven games), they allowed 578 yards of offense and 45 points per game.
So, what does each team need to do in order to capture a victory in this high-sparked matchup on Saturday?
For Oregon: This will be the first time this season that the Ducks are underdogs.
As the Ducks experienced another slow start last week, they need to make sure that they come out fast, avoid getting costly penalties, and build an early lead over Nebraska and maintain that momentum.
Oregon will also need to match last week’s effort in not giving up any offensive turnovers.
Because Nebraska hasn’t faced a team that has a big running threat this year, one advantage that Oregon holds in this matchup is their Heisman-Candidate running back Royce Freeman. Should the Ducks give Freeman a high number of reps and critical blocking upfront, it could create a formula for disaster for the Cornhuskers.
The Ducks will also need to give offensive weapons Darren Carrington and Devon Allen, as many chances as possible to help drive up the score and balance the running game.
But, perhaps even more importantly, Oregon needs to show improvement on defense, especially when the opponent is running the ball. As a crowd of 53,000 plus saw last Saturday, the Duck’s need to avoid missing tackles and giving up long distance runs, which led Virginia’s 338 total offensive yards. Defensive leaders Ugo Amadi, Arrion Springs, Jalen Jelks, and Henry Mondeaux will need to step up and rally the rest of the Oregon defense to play their best game yet.
For Nebraska: Although Nebraska didn’t record a winning season last year with a record of 6-7, they come into Saturday’s matchup to prove to everyone that this year is different and that they are a contender in the Big 10 conference.
The Cornhuskers are expected to come out fast since they are currently playing off of emotion and dedicating their season to former punter Sam Foltz, who tragically lost his life in a car accident on July 23.
Look for the Cornhuskers to maximize the running game, including multiple carries from running back Devine Ozigbo has 32 carries rushing for 147 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Also expect the Cornhuskers to make more use of wide receivers Jordan Westerkamp and Alonzo More, who thus far have combined for 11 receptions gaining 312 yards and four touchdowns.
Furthermore, Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. must be locked-in on Saturday. Over the last two games this season, Armstrong Jr., has completed 25-44 passes, for 485 yards, including four touchdowns, and one interception. Armstrong Jr. can also be a dual-threat quarterback, scrambling away from pressure 23 times which he gained 54 yards, and scored three touchdowns.
Bottom line, Nebraska will need to produce effectively in these particular areas in order for them to keep up with the high-powered Oregon offense.
Prediction: This game will come down to the last few possessions in the fourth quarter, but the Ducks’ offense will overpower Nebraska by a score of 49-42 to capture their third straight victory and increase their position in the top 25.
Wrap Up Notes: Though the Oregon Ducks will be on the road this Saturday, Nebraska is hosting three prospects that are also being targeted by Oregon (Trajon Cotton, Martin Andrus, and Joseph Lewis). Let’s hope that the Ducks put on a good showing on Saturday, to establish a good first impression in preparation of their scheduled visits to Oregon later on in the season.