Josh Kelly, Senior Sports Editor - Nebraska 38, Rutgers 15
This week we found out whether this Nebraska team can be a gamechanger. Minnesota was its biggest win of the season, but that was followed up with a loss to Northwestern. What happens after the Michigan State game now?
Well, the team will continue to put up points.
This season, the Huskers are averaging 33.9 points per game. Against a lesser opponent in Rutgers; that average will be raised.
One of the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s win was: first, the composure quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. kept following his injury. Second, was the run blocking that was on par against the Spartans.
On Saturday, the Huskers offense will continue to make strides. Offensively, the play call by Danny Langsdorf has been decent. It’s just at certain points the execution isn’t there. We saw what happens when they execute, whether it was the 99-yard drive against Minnesota, or the final drive against Michigan State on Saturday night.
In the Huskers’ first game at High Point Solutions Stadium, they will score early this time and it’ll be enough for a win. Armstrong has a big game and the defensive line has its best game yet, setting up for a 5-6 Nebraska hosting undefeated Iowa.
Brett Nierengarten, Online Sports Editor - Nebraska 24, Rutgers 23
For the first time all year, Nebraska is in position for a letdown. After an emotional win against Michigan State Saturday, the Huskers have a long flight to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers, losers of three in a row.
Everything this week points to the Huskers dominating Rutgers. There’s finally hope in Lincoln, and Rutgers has lost to Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan by a combined score of 146-33.
Nebraska’s pass defense is still allowing 319.1 yards per game, and after cautiously holding out Leonte Caroo the past two weeks, Rutgers’ star wide receiver should be ready to go. In five full games, Caroo has 527 yards and nine touchdowns.
Nebraska should win this game. The team also should’ve beat Purdue. And Illinois.
I think Tommy Armstrong makes just enough plays to get it done, but don’t get too ahead of yourself, this one will be very, very close.
Nick Wilkinson, Print Sports Editor - Nebraska 41, Rutgers 10
Jim Harbaugh flipped a dying Michigan Wolverines program almost overnight. After losing to Rutgers 26-24 last year, Harbaugh’s evolved squad beat Rutgers 49-16 in the Big House this past week. Rutgers President Robert Barchi tried to do the same with promoting assistant head coach Kyle Flood to full-time in 2012.
If you’re a Husker fan and you think your team has problems, aim your gaze toward New Jersey. There may be no saving face for Flood after this season.
There are no excuses for a defense that’s allowed 2,068 yards in the past four games (Michigan has allowed 2,160 in nine) or an offense that, in the three straight blowout losses, hasn’t produced a single touchdown drive led by its starting quarterback.
Regardless of Nebraska’s finish versus Michigan State, I believe the saying is “a win’s a win,” and Mike Riley won’t forget it.
Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano has thrown for 245 yards in the past three games. Nebraska gave up 335 to Connor Cook and 274 to Purdue’s David Blough but allowed only 177 to Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson. Where will Laviano land this Saturday?
All around, Nebraska performed to a higher level against Michigan State than ever before during Mike Riley’s inaugural year. Like many quarterback’s on the Huskers schedule, Laviano could have himself a career day. However, he does play at Rutgers where nothing goes their way.
Vanessa Daves, Football Beat Writer - Nebraska 31, Rutgers 17
I think yesterday taught us that anything can happen in the world of sports.
Arkansas beat No. 18 Ole Miss. Auburn beat No. 19 Texas A&M. And Nebraska beat No. 7 Michigan State.
It was a weird day for all of us, especially considering Michael Dixon was right about Nebraska winning.
The Huskers are confident in themselves, despite the fact that they barely won in the same fashion that other teams beat them. Still, the confidence means everything when they’re playing on the road this weekend.
Rutgers is 3-6, and Nebraska’s record is only slightly better. But there’s something to say about the fact their wins are against Norfolk State, Kansas and Indiana.
Nebraska will defeat Rutgers on Saturday but to what end? It’s been a roller coaster of a season, and though the Huskers are coming off a big, season-changing win, I feel like we’ve been here before. After the win against Minnesota, I wrote a column about the significance of that game for the Huskers, and then, they lost two consecutive games.
Will the Michigan State win change the fate of the season? That’s up to Nebraska.
Michael Dixon, Football Beat Writer - Nebraska 31, Rutgers 17
Surely, they’ll stop messing around.
As I’ve said many times, Nebraska won’t ever be afraid to play anyone, and Rutgers isn’t an exception.
Nonetheless, the Scarlet Knights have played some good games against difficult opponents, and a long, long road trip could have an impact on Nebraska’s psyche. They only lost by a touchdown to Michigan State, and won a wild game at Indiana, but have lost by 30 or more points in three consecutive games: against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan.
That’s more along the lines of what you can expect with Rutgers.
Sure, Nebraska hasn’t played well, and one win doesn’t immediately alter the course of a frustrating and disappointing season.
But beating Michigan State should be the game NU needed to start righting the ship. The Huskers are better than 4-6 would indicate, and they’re much better than Rutgers.
While there aren’t any givens with these guys, at a certain point, you’ve got to believe they’re through with the nonsense.
With health, confidence, and the still-alive dream of avoiding bowl ineligibility, Nebraska should play well enough beat the Knights handily and set up a pseudo-winner-take-all game against Iowa.