Sports

College Football Week 4 Preview: Nebraska vs. Wyoming

| by Alex Groberman

Make what you will of this entirely meaningless fact, but the Nebraska Cornhuskers have given every team they’ve played through three games of the 2011 season their first loss. In the case of the Washington Huskies, they also snapped their six game winning streak, which dated back to last year.

The Wyoming Cowboys, meanwhile, have the honor of being the first team to host Nebraska this year, and the Huskers will look to continue their perfect start to the season and pick up a fourth consecutive win.

Playing in their third game against Washington over the course of the last calendar year, Nebraska picked up a less-than-stellar 51-38 victory. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was solid yet again, racking up 155 yards and two touchdowns in the air, with no interceptions. The talented dual-threat was also key in the running attack, putting together 83 yards and a score on 17 carries with, and -- this is big -- zero fumbles.

The Huskers’ other offensive pieces also came to play on Saturday, with running back Rex Burkhead putting together arguably his best performance of the year with 120 yards and two touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts. His 5.5 yards per carry was his largest average of the season, and came behind a particularly strong effort from the offensive line.

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It wasn’t all good news for Nebraska, though, as the defense continues to struggle, allowing 38 points and seemingly limitless offensive production to a Washington club that has never been recognized as being particularly dangerous in that regard. Huskies quarterback Keith Price had four touchdowns on the day and 274 yards (with two interceptions), and running back Chris Polk rushed for 130 yards and a score on 22 attempts.

This, of course, comes only a week after Fresno State Bulldogs running back Robbie Rouse similarly ran all over the defense to the tune of 169 yards.

Wyoming, meanwhile, comes into this game holding on tight to a 3-0 mark that they clearly earned against the Bowling Green Falcons in a 28-27 thriller this past week. Much like the Huskers, Wyoming allowed its opponents to creep back into the game towards the end, repeatedly squandering opportunities to put the nail in the coffin and close things out once and for all.

Quarterback Brett Smith threw for 267 yards and a touchdown on a 25-of-38 performance on Saturday, and managed to squeak by with no interceptions. In the run game, the Cowboys got a team effort spearheaded by Alvester Alexander, Ghaali Muhammad en route to 129 yards on 34 rushing attempts for the outing.

Defensively, however, Wyoming had some problems, giving up more than 500 yards for the day and allowing their opponents to score twice in the fourth quarter. If not for a huge blocked PAT attempt with :03 left, this whole game would have been viewed as a colossal failure laid directly at the feet of the unimpressive defensive unit.

In theory, despite being away from home, Nebraska should have no problems putting the kibosh on Wyoming’s perfect record. That being said, given the not-so-spectacular way the Huskers have been dealing with their opponents this year, would anyone really be shocked to see the Cowboys put up a legitimate fight?