Josh Kelly, Senior Sports Editor - Nebraska 33, BYU 28
After what seems like one of the longest offseasons in Nebraska history, the Huskers will finally play under coach Mike Riley.
There are suspensions, injuries, etc. that have affected both teams, changing the possible outcome at the same frequency as the temperature.
On Saturday, fans will see how Tommy Armstrong has progressed through the season, especially against a team that went 3-0 against power-five programs last season. The running game will be a little stagnant in the first half but will catch on as the game progresses.
Obviously, the determining factor in the matchup will be whether early Heisman candidate Taysom Hill embarrasses the young linebackers group. Yes, the defensive line will be relentlessly pressuring him, but Hill will manage to go for a long touchdown run.
The game will go back and forth and will seem a lot longer than fans expected with an offense that huddles up as opposed to hurry up.
In the final minutes of the game, Armstrong will take a chance and break out for a touchdown run to take the lead against the Cougars. It won’t be the most fluid of debuts for coach Riley, but it’ll be a win and a nice start to his career at Nebraska.
Nick Wilkinson, Print Sports Editor - BYU 42, Nebraska 35
I’m going to stick to my guns in saying Nebraska will lose its first season opener since Florida State in 1985.
BYU senior quarterback Taysom Hill was named the FBS Independent offensive player of the week four weeks in a row while averaging 219 passing yards, 66 percent completion rate, 107 rush yards per game and scored 13 total touchdowns before suffering a season-ending leg fracture and ligament tear against Utah State.
Hill eclipsed the 4,000 passing yard mark (4,052) with his 200-yard performance against Houston last season. He also passed the 2,000 rushing yard mark (2,036) with his 160 rushing yards on the night. He is one of 14 FBS quarterbacks to reach that mark in their junior season, including Colin Kaepernick, Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Robert Griffin III.
Hill will play against Nebraska the way Huskers fans will wish junior quarterback Tommy Armstrong would have played against BYU this Saturday. Hill will be poised in the pocket, scramble properly out of the pocket and check-down for quick dump-offs for extra yards.
Armstrong, though looking confident in fall camp, will crumble in the back field, thanking his young offensive line as he falls all the way to the turf under a handful of Cougars.
The Huskers struggled against the run last season, giving up an average of 177.8 yards per game. With Jamaal Williams, a 6-foot, 206-pound back from Fontana, California out of the picture, senior Adam Hine is the likely option to stand in. He has 378 career rushing yards after four years in blue and white.
Last season, BYU started off 4-0 with wins against Texas and Virginia. A faulty run-game from both sides of the ball Sept. 5 will lead to an all-out air assault. Nebraska loses game number one of the Mike Riley era 42-35.
Brett Nierengarten, Online Sports Editor - BYU 34, Nebraska 27
BYU Quarterback Taysom Hill is back after missing most of last season with a leg injury. Hill was a Heisman candidate last season and rushed for 460 yards in five games before he got hurt. Hill and the Cougar running game will take advantage of a spotty Husker defense that allowed 246 yards on the ground per game last season.
Nebraska’s offense should be able to take advantage of a BYU defense that struggled last season, but I think Tommy Armstrong and company will take a little time to settle in Mike Riley’s new offense and the lack of stability at tailback won’t do Armstrong any favors.
I expect the Cougars to jump on the Huskers early on and take a two touchdown lead into the half. After Nebraska gets its feet under itself, the Huskers will make it a game in the second half, but ultimately it will be too little too late.
Vanessa Daves, Football Beat Writer - Nebraska 28, BYU 21
The preseason poll didn’t have Nebraska or BYU in the top 25 and that’s the first time that’s happened to Nebraska since 2008.
Both teams ended last season with similar records (8-5 for BYU, 9-4 for Nebraska) and both lost in a close bowl game. Despite those similarities, Nebraska’s 2014 schedule shows a higher amount of difficulty in its opponents. Indeed, Nebraska has consistently had a tougher schedule than BYU.
This year, BYU will be starting the 2015 season after a somewhat mediocre finish in last year’s bowl game: a brawl with Memphis in double overtime. Meanwhile, Nebraska is coming in with a fresh start. Nebraska coach Mike Riley will transition from the team’s previous reliance on the running game. The Huskers are also dealing with some injuries.
Ultimately, it’ll be a close game because Nebraska has had stronger lines than BYU in the past, but with the transition of a new coach and new type of game, the Huskers will be working through some kinks. Still, with the home field advantage and the excitement for the first game of the season, the Huskers are bound to win this one.
Michael Dixon, Football Beat Writer - BYU 35, Nebraska 31
If all good things must come to an end, Nebraska’s streak of 29 consecutive season-opening wins will finally be halted this weekend.
BYU is tough, and a very tricky opponent for any team to open against. But it’ll be Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill whom the Huskers won’t be able to figure out from the opening kickoff.
While he might be prone to a mistake or two, Hill led BYU to a 4-0 start last year, which included a 41-7 thrashing of Texas on the road. In the Cougars’ fifth game, Hill broke his leg, effectively ending his season, and returning BYU to Earth.
Prior to his injury, Hill accounted for 15 touchdowns, completing two-thirds of his throws while averaging 5.3 yards per run. He might be the best dual-threat quarterback in the country. Now in his final season, Hill has a chance to put all of that behind him, and there’s no better way to do that than by making a statement in week one.
The Huskers are good enough to keep it close, but be ready to push that big, red ‘Overreaction’ button when a lengthy, fourth-quarter, Taysom Hill-led drive drops Nebraska to 0-1.