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South Alabama Jaguars vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction

Mikale Wilbon

Mikale Wilbon

Considering the amount of transfers from the previously-defunct-but-now-starting-up-again UAB football program, Nebraska’s essentially taking on the South Alabama-Birmingham Blazing Jaguars. That’s actually a pretty killer name.

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Speaking of a mauling, that’s likely what the Jags are walking into considering that the current 25-point underdog will be facing a very upset group of Cornhuskers that will be returning all but one suspended player.

Yes, yes, McNeese State 2014 and that's exactly why there are some things worth keeping your eyes peeled for.

South Alabama at Nebraska

Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: BTN
Spread: Nebraska -25

Three Things to Watch For

1. A Reanimated Husker Running Game

South Alabama is working to replace a number of quality tacklers and essentially every playmaker the 2014 defense had to offer. This is a perfect opportunity for Huskers running backs coach Reggie Davis and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh to tweak a running game that was stonewalled against the BYU Cougars.

Look for Mikale Wilbon, Terrell Newby and Imani Cross to get snaps once more, but their roles may change a bit from the opening game of the season. 

2. Tommy Armstrong’s Continued Progression

As good as Armstrong’s day against BYU was (319 yards, three touchdowns, one interception), his game can get even better and it’s going to need to against stiffer pass defenses. 

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His footwork is still so-so and throwing darts off of his back foot isn't a thing of the past. However, as seen against BYU, he has a wide receiver corps that can help him easily move the ball. 

Don’t be shocked to see some shorter tosses get worked in. This way, Armstrong can get the opportunity to work a number of routes that may or may not be seen against Miami (FL) and every opponent down the road.

3. The Blackshirt Back Seven Getting Their Groove Back

After being shredded for 379 yards thanks in no small part to a number of Cougar wideouts whose arms extend above the clouds, it’s time for Nebraska’s linebackers and the secondary to hit the reset button.

The good news is that they’ll have help returning in the form of previously suspended linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey and cornerback Jonathan Rose, both starters. Safety Nate Gerry showed his ballhawking ability last week against BYU's Taysom Hill, one of the best quarterbacks the Huskers will face this season.

If the Blackshirt secondary finds its swagger again, Miami's Brad Kaaya may eventually be in for a long 60 minutes. That’s a topic for another day, though.

Final Analysis

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The talent gap is huge, the atmosphere is fierce and this Nebraska team wants a convincing victory after letting last week's slip through its fingers. This doesn’t bode well for South Alabama, but there’s always the postgame snack, right?

Armstrong should look better than ever, Nebraska should show some semblance of a running game and Blackshirts likely feast on the Jaguar offense. Unfortunately, tight end Cethan Carter will be sitting on the sideline for another game.

Take note, Popular Mechanics —this is a cupcake game.

Prediction: Nebraska 45, South Alabama 13

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.