You will be forgiven if you can’t quite figure out what to make of the Nebraska Cornhuskers going into Week 3 of the college football season. A week after opening the year with a demoralizing loss at Illinois, Nebraska returned home to roast an overpowered Fordham program last Saturday. This week, Nebraska hosts a Buffalo program that could be one of the best teams in the MAC despite some notable losses on both the field and sideline.
Buffalo also is coming off a romp against an overmatched FCS program in Week 1, so we may learn a little bit more about Buffalo this week as well. That is what makes this particular game so interesting, but the pressure is on Nebraska and head coach Scott Frost. Dropping to 1-2 before playing the toughest opponents on its Big Ten schedule and a big road game at Oklahoma will make the hopes of playing in a postseason bowl game nearly impossible to achieve.
Nebraska needs this win in a big way.
Buffalo at Nebraska
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Nebraska -13.5
When Buffalo Has the Ball
Buffalo showed its offense has not lost a step after losing leading rusher Jaret Patterson. As a team, Buffalo rushed for 312 yards against FCS Wagner (Ron Cook Jr. rushed for a team-high 94 yards and Kevin Marks Jr. had a team-high two rushing touchdowns), so we shouldn’t get too confident in Buffalo’s rushing abilities just yet. But it still figures to put Nebraska to the test. Nebraska has allowed 167 rushing yards to Illinois and 129 yards to Fordham. The Huskers have allowed an average of 3.89 rushing yards per attempt.
Buffalo turned in a solid all-around effort against Wagner in Maurice Linguist's debut and will show up to Memorial Field confident in what it can do on offense. It will be up to Nebraska’s defense to slow things down.
When Nebraska Has the Ball
Nebraska got a much better showing from Adrian Martinez last week compared to the opener. Martinez completed 17 of 23 pass attempts for 254 yards and a touchdown after completing just half of his pass attempts the previous week. Nebraska also was able to get much more production out of the running game to take the load off of Martinez (who did have two rushing touchdowns). Markese Stepp rushed for 101 yards after getting more opportunities in Week 1, and that should continue this weekend against Buffalo.
Buffalo’s defense is better than Fordham’s, however, and the Bulls should be capable of preventing things from blowing wide open against a Nebraska team that has yet to show they should be given too many benefits of the doubt.
Nebraska should get out of this one with a win, but it may not be as pretty as Husker fans will ideally want it to be. Questions about how good Nebraska will be should continue after this game because Buffalo will make the Huskers earn this one. If this game is close midway through the fourth quarter, it should shock nobody. But Nebraska will manage to avoid another setback for a second time in the first three weeks of the season.
Prediction: Nebraska 27, Buffalo 20
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