ESPN’s College GameDay goes to the best games or environments every Saturday. The show hasn't come to Lincoln since 2007, but that will change on Saturday. There have been a lot of changes to the team in 12 years, but both face similar circumstances.
The last time GameDay came to Lincoln was a game against Pete Carroll’s USC. Both teams were 2-0 going into the game, but USC was the No. 1 team in the nation while Nebraska was ranked No. 14, their highest-ever ranking under head coach Bill Callahan.
The 2019 Huskers team plays No. 5 Ohio State, a team that just missed the College Football Playoff last season. Both the 2007 Huskers and the 2019 team entered the season in the AP Top 25 poll. The 2007 team began the year at No. 20 before moving up to No. 14 before GameDay. The 2019 team did the opposite, dropping out of the top-25 before GameDay.
The backbone of the defense on the 2007 team was senior linebacker Steve Octavien, who led the team with 92 tackles. Ndamukong Suh was a sophomore at that time, but only registered 22 tackles and one sack. The 2019 defense is led by inside linebacker senior Mohamed Barry, who had 112 tackles last season, and has 33 already this year.
The 2007 team featured junior Marlon Lucky as the main running back after earning the bulk of the carries in 2006. The Huskers have a different running back situation than the 2007 team, as both Maurice Washington and Dedrick Mills have shared the carries.
The quarterback situation for this season is different from the 2007 team as well. The 2007 team’s quarterback was senior Sam Keller, who played one year at Nebraska after three years at Arizona State. Adrian Martinez already has a year in Scott Frost’s system and is more dynamic than Keller ever was, as Keller was a pocket passer. Martinez already has seven touchdowns this season compared to Keller's 14 all season in 2007, although Keller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
The coaching situation is different as well. Nebraska is entering its second year under Frost who was welcomed back with open arms after he was hired. Bill Callahan was in his fourth season when College GameDay came in 2007, and the Huskers lost to USC 49-31. It was supposed to be a breakout year for Nebraska but instead, it went 5-7 and Callahan was fired at the end of the year.
The presence of College GameDay makes this one of the most exciting Huskers games in years. The environment on Saturday will be electric. If Nebraska can shock the Buckeyes, it will be one of the best game days for Huskers fans in a long time.