Nebraska (1-1) will look to bounce back from its first loss of the year against Northern Illinois (1-1) from the Mid-American Conference. The Huskies lost their last game to No. 11 Utah 35-17, although they only trailed by four at halftime.
Here are four Huskies to watch on Saturday:
Ross Bowers, QB
After going up against one Pac-12 quarterback last week, the Huskers will face another in ex-Cal quarterback Ross Bowers. Bowers is a senior graduate transfer from Cal who decided to go to Northern Illinois after he lost his starting job last year.
In his one year as a starter at Cal, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,039 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a sophomore. Bowers is a traditional pocket passer who is not much of a runner, as he’s never had a season where he ran for positive yards.
Last week against Utah, Bowers completed 20 of 29 passes for 229 yards with a touchdown and an interception. As a senior who has played in the Pac-12, Bowers knows what it takes to win on the road against a Power Five team. This experience will be important for the Huskies as they are a young offense that will need a leader like Bowers.
Tre Harbison, RB
The Northern Illinois offense is largely unproven, except at the running back position. Junior running back Tre Harbison had a productive season last year in his first year as the starter as a sophomore. Harbison ran for 1,034 yards on 206 carries with five touchdowns. He was the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Huskies since 2015.
The junior has had a slow start to this season as he’s only run for 131 yards in his first two games. That was in large part due to a tough game against Utah where he had six carries for only 32 yards.
Harbison is a tough runner and should be a good challenge for what has been a staunch Husker run defense to this point.
Antonio Jones-Davis, LB
The strength of this Northern Illinois team is its defense, which is led by senior linebacker Antonio Jones-Davis. As the leading tackler last season for the Huskies, Jones-Davis was a First Team All-MAC selection at outside linebacker. He had 130 tackles last season with 14.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks.
So far this season he’s picked up where he left off last season as he’s had 11 tackles through his first two games. Nebraska head coach Scott Frost talked about the swarming Husky defense, which Jones-Davis is a huge contributor. For a Husker offense that has underperformed so far this season, it will be important for them to stop Jones-Davis and an impressive linebacking group.
Kyle Pugh, LB
Speaking of that impressive linebacking group, senior linebacker Kyle Pugh is another standout on the Northern Illinois defense. Pugh was the only other Husky last year to eclipse 100 tackles as he had 106 tackles with five for a loss and 1.5 sacks. That effort earned him Second Team All-MAC honors last season.
The linebacking tandem of Pugh and Jones-Davis are the core of a strong Northern Illinois defense. Their presence played a huge part in the Huskies’ rush defense ranking 14th nationally last season.
For the Huskers offense to be successful, they will need to be able to establish the run. That is going to be difficult if Pugh and Jones-Davis have the big games they are capable of.