Both the UCLA Bruins and Nebraska Cornhuskers will come into this meeting undefeated and ranked in the top 25. The Bruins have the advantage of coming into this game after a bye week which allowed them more preparation; the Cornhuskers on the other hand have the advantage of coming into this game after a blowout win against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.
The Bruins are ranked 16th in the nation and a large reason for that is sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley. He burst onto the scene last year passing for 3,745 yards and completing 66 percent of his passes for the Bruins as a freshman, which allowed him to come into the 2013 season as a Heisman contender. The Bruins aren’t just dangerous through the air, however, as their first-year starting running back Jordon James had a huge game Week 1, rushing for 155 yards and one score.
The Cornhuskers will have to bring the defense that shut down the Golden Eagles last week, and not the squad that allowed 34 points two weeks ago to the Wyoming Cowboys if they hope to contain this Bruins attack. Jim Mora Jr. has done a great job turning this Bruins team into a legitimate Pac-12 contender, and in doing so has made them one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation as well, which is something the Cornhuskers should be worried about.
The Bruins’ defense will have their hands full this weekend, however, with the most important offensive player for Nebraska, Taylor Martinez. He is in the process of turning himself into a top pro prospect as he has improved his performance each year on campus and after two games this season has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 325 yards. The Cornhuskers haven’t been forced to throw the ball all that much this season which explains the low number of passing yards, but against the Bruins, you can bet Martinez will be forced to use both his legs and arms to pickup yards.
While plenty of attention has been put on Martinez, the Cornhuskers also boast a deep backfield that currently has four players, including Martinez, with over 100 rushing yards on the season. The Bruins will have to rely on senior linebacker Anthony Barr to stuff the running game as he did a good job doing so against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the first week of the season.
This game will see plenty of throwing as each team will make sure to showcase their talented quarterback, but eventually it will be the play of Hundley and the Bruins who wins out. Hundley is already shaping up to be one of the best underclassmen quarterbacks in the nation and he proved last season he can will his team to a win, which is exactly what I expect him to do in this game.
It could be tough for the Bruins to get going as they will be playing in Nebraska, but once they hit their stride, the defense should be able to limit the effectiveness of Martinez, which should shutdown the whole Nebraska offense leaving way for UCLA to get a tough non-conference victory.