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Greg Sharpe Previews Nebraska – UCLA

Nebraska Football
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It’s a rematch that’s been the focus of Nebraska football fans for an entire year now, a grudge match with UCLA, Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, 53 weeks after the Bruins stunned the Huskers, 36-30, at the Rose Bowl.

Nebraska tuned up for the game with a 56-13 dismantling of Southern Miss last Saturday, in a game that featured the return of the Cornhuskers defense, after a sub par performance against Wyoming in week one.

Southern Miss v Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE – SEPTEMBER 7: Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste #16 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers intercepts a pass in front of wide receiver Rickey Bradley #81 of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

The ‘Voice of the Cornhuskers’ Greg Sharpe told me it all started with Stanley Jean-Baptiste’s interception return for a touchdown on the Eagles’ third play from scrimmage:

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Southern Miss v Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE – SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers eyes the Southern Miss Golden Eagles defense during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Offensively, it was a good, not great day for Nebraska against Southern Miss. Taylor Martinez passed for three scores, while Ameer Abdullah ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns.  But with the defense accounting for four interceptions and two scores, it was a day the offense wasn’t needed as much:

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Nebraska v UCLA
PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Brett Hundley #12 of the UCLA Bruins throws a pass against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at the Rose Bowl on September 8, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Nebraska will need both sides of ball engaged on Saturday against a UCLA team that rolled up 653 yards against them last season, led by then redshirt quarterback Brett Hundley.  The Huskers didn’t do themselves any favors in Pasadena, missing key tackles on defense, while turning the ball over and failing to convert on third down:

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Tomorrow in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers will be trying to slow down Hundley, now a sophomore, who completed 65% of his passes all of last season, and hit 12 different receivers in the Bruins win over Nevada in week one.  This is not a UCLA team that threw the ball downfield a lot against Nebraska last year:

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Southern Miss v Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE – SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and his offensive line prepare to snap the ball during their game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

For Nebraska on offense, the emphasis this week is on protecting the quarterback against the likes of UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who had 13 1/2 sacks last season, the most among returning FBS players in the nation:

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One thing that you can take to the bank tomorrow: there will be points-a-plenty at Memorial Stadium.  The two teams combined for 66 last year, and are a combined 13-1-1 hitting the over (ask your favorite gambler what that means) in their last 15 games:

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So which side of the ball does Greg believe will be the deciding factor in this game Saturday?

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Kickoff is 11:00am in Lincoln, Saturday morning, right here on your home for Nebraska football – ESPN 99.1

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