Jacob Bova, Senior Sports Editor: Ohio State 42, Nebraska 30
Saturday will be a matchup of two programs at different stages. Ohio State is a team that has been around the top of the college football world for a long time. Nebraska is trying to get back to that spot, and Saturday is a chance to take a big step in that direction. With ESPN’s College GameDay in town and a prime time matchup on ABC, all eyes will be on Lincoln Saturday night.
Those eyes will probably see what they expect, an Ohio State win, although they will get a challenge from Nebraska. The Buckeyes are in their first year under new head coach Ryan Day and the Huskers present their first real test of the season. Games against Miami (OH) and Florida Atlantic aren’t exactly a great measuring stick for how good a team is.
While the team may be relatively untested, they have the talent to back up their lofty, top-five ranking. The offense is led by quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins, who make up one of the most dynamic backfields in the country. Ohio State’s defense is full of NFL talent and it’s shown as it ranks second in the country with 222 yards allowed per game. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story though, as they have yet to play an offensive team the caliber of Nebraska.
That being said, Ohio State is the best defensive team Nebraska has seen as well. Adrian Martinez and co. should be able to score on Saturday, but the Husker defense will struggle to keep Ohio State from scoring points. In the end, Nebraska will keep it close for much of the game, but Ohio State will pull away in the fourth to win by a comfortable margin.
Drake Keeler, Assistant Sports Editor: Ohio State 35, Nebraska 24
Saturday’s matchup will be one of the biggest games played in Lincoln in quite some time. The Huskers are paired with No. 5 Ohio State, a team that has been a powerhouse in college football for years. On top of that, this matchup will carry more national attention than usual. The game will be played in prime time and ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Lincoln for the showdown.
Nebraska seems overmatched in almost every area, but anticipation has been building as the week goes on. There’s good reason for that hype as well. The Huskers look like more of a respectable team than they have been in years past, and only lost by five points to the Buckeyes last season in Columbus, Ohio. An upset win wouldn’t necessarily bring the Huskers back to national relevance, but it sure would raise eyebrows around the country.
That being said, Ohio State is going to come into Lincoln and leave with a win. The Buckeyes have been dominant against every opponent they’ve faced thus far, and simply are stacked with talent.
Nebraska likely won’t be run over in the same way that Ohio State’s previous four opponents have, but the Buckeyes have looked nearly unstoppable through four games.
What may doom the Huskers is something they have struggled with all year: mental mistakes. Nebraska has been plagued with turnover issues, having the most fumbles lost in the country with nine. Those turnovers allowed Illinois to stay in the game last week, along with some costly penalties. Nebraska had 10 penalties for 70 yards against the Illini, and currently are 101st in the FBS in penalty yards per game.
Nebraska has a talented enough roster to keep up with the Buckeyes for a while, but the Huskers won’t have any chance if they can’t play a relatively clean game.
By no means would an 11-point loss to a top team be a bad thing for a Husker team still in year two of the Scott Frost era, but Nebraska will have to drastically improve from what it has shown so far to pull off an upset of this magnitude.
Luke Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor: Ohio State 46, Nebraska 36
Hey Husker fans, do you remember what happened the last time Ohio State came to town for a primetime matchup? It was 56-14 shellacking where the game was already over at halftime. There’s been a couple of those blowouts at the hands of the Buckeyes, but this time around, maybe Nebraska won’t get run off its home field.
The Huskers might be able to summon up their primetime magic, but they’ll need a lot of it to take down the Buckeyes. Ohio State simply has talent all over the field, and it always produces first- and second-round picks in the NFL Draft year in and year out. The Buckeyes may have the better players on paper, but that doesn’t always show up on the field.
If Nebraska wants to win, it has to elevate its play to a new level this year. The victory over Northern Illinois was the team’s best showing so far, while wins over South Alabama and Illinois left much to be desired. The defense has been solid for most of the year and their ball-hawking ways will be a necessity given Nebraska’s propensity to have turnovers of its own on offense.
Everything shapes up for a decent Buckeye win, but you never know. After all, isn’t Scott Frost undefeated in primetime home games as a Husker head coach?