The Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Miami Hurricanes will meet for the 12th time on the football field on Saturday afternoon on ABC. The schools have met in five bowl games and have faced off in the national championship four times, with the Hurricanes winning three of those four national championship meetings.
In the 2015 meeting between the two schools, there are a lot of skilled players each team needs to watch out for. Here are the six players to keep an eye on during the game.
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Ever since Brad Kaaya has lined up under center in his freshman year for Miami, all he has done is throw touchdowns. The sophomore currently has a consecutive touchdown streak of 15 games.
Last week against FAU, Kaaya completed 21-of-32 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown pass. In Week 1, BYU was able to throw for 379 yards and two touchdowns against the Nebraska secondary. Look for Kaaya to try and open it up against the Nebraska defense.
Tommy Armstrong Jr., QB, Nebraska
Tommy Armstrong Jr. is off to a great start in 2015. In two games, the junior quarterback has thrown for 589 yards, five touchdowns and is completing 63.4 percent of his passes. That’s why Armstrong was named one of Athlon Sports' 10 quarterbacks looking to make a statement in Week 3.
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Miami has only allowed one touchdown pass this season, so Armstrong will face a tougher opponent than last week when Nebraska played South Alabama. So far, Armstrong has played like one of the most improved quarterbacks in the nation. He will have a chance in front of a national television audience to put the world on notice.
Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton, RBs, Miami
Early this season, both Miami running backs Joseph Yearby and Mark Walton have done an excellent job replacing the production left by last year’s star Duke Johnson.
Last week against FAU, Yearby rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He also caught three passes for 97 yards and a touchdown reception. Walton was another key contributor as he finish with 62 yards of total offense and three rushing touchdowns.
Miami head coach Al Golden knows how important both Yearby and Walton are to the Hurricanes offense.
“They’re both unselfish guys, they’re both team players, they both love the University of Miami, they love the team,” said Golden. “And they’re both competing right now. They really are. Run after contact, second effort, spinning on contact, pass protection, catching the ball out of the backfield — we’re asking them to do a lot. They’re doing it. They kind of just feed off each other…when one looks tired, the other comes in.”
Michael Rose-Ivey, LB, Nebraska
Michael Rose-Ivey is one of the 13 players that have blackshirts on the Nebraska defense. He certainly earned it with his last performance against South Alabama.
The junior finished with a team-high 10 tackles against South Alabama and he was a problem for the Jaguars offensive line all day long. Miami has a very young and inexperienced offensive line. It will have to be a collective effort to prevent Rose-Ivey and the other Nebraska defenders from making plays in the backfield.
Raphael Kirby, LB, Miami
Last week, Raphael Kirby recorded nine tackles and for his effort, he was named team defensive player of the week. While the FAU offense presented Kirby with only a little bit of a challenge, going against the Nebraska offense certainly won’t be easy.
The Cornhuskers have averaged 503 yards per game in their first two games of the season. Not only has Armstrong been a big reason for the success of Nebraska’s offense, but so has their running game.
Terrell Newby has rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns this season. Miami missed a number of tackles last week against FAU. So the team will have to do a better job stopping the run and tackle against a high-powered Nebraska offense.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.