2012 College Football Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. UCLA Bruins

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Several weeks ago I made a futures wager on UCLA +7 against Nebraska. The game will be played this Saturday in the Rose Bowl. I thought I was getting the best of a bad line and when the game opened yesterday at 4.5 I thought I had been proven correct.

However, the spread is currently up to 5 at some spots and appears to be rising. I still doubt it gets to 7, but we may see it get as high as 6 points.

Both teams looked impressive in their season openers last week, albeit against vastly inferior teams. UCLA opened up on the road at Rice and gained 646 yards against an outmanned Owls defense.

Redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley looked good in his debut, completing 21 passes in 28 attempts for 202 yards and 2 TDs vs 1 int. But the real offensive star for the Bruins was RB Johnathan Franklin who rushed for 214 yards on 15 carries (14.3 ypr) and 3 TDs. The Bruins have a deep backfield.

Nebraska rolled over a Southern Miss team in Lincoln that had lost nearly every key player from last year’s 13-2 CUSA Championship team. Husker QB Taylor Martinez was 26 of 34 for 354 yards and 5 TDs and the Cornhuskers finished with 632 yards of total offense.

So what can we expect this Saturday in the Rose Bowl? 

First, Nebraska star running back Rex Burkhead left the Southern Miss game in the first half with an MCL sprain and is listed as day-to-day. What will his status be for Saturday’s game and even if he does play, will he be 100%?

Another issue for the Cornhuskers is their recent struggles against dual-threat QBs. In each of Nebraska’s 4 losses last year they faced a dual-threat QB; Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Northwestern’s Kain Colter, Michigan’s Denard Robinsn and South Carolina’s Connor Shaw. And as I recall Ohio State’s freshman QB Braxton Miller was leading the Buckeyes to victory in Lincoln before he was injured and lost for the remainder of the game.

The biggest concern for UCLA is their defense. Last week the Owls didn’t have any problem in the first half finding holes in the UCLA secondary. I’ve never worried too much about Taylor Martinez as a passer, but he did looked improved last week.

Based on last week’s numbers this game could turn into a shootout. I don’t think either defense is very good. Right now I like my chances of getting UCLA and a TD and think they have a good chance to win this game outright.

Let’s get some viewpoints from others for this marquee Big 10 vs PAC 12 showdown.

- Pez

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