Nebraska Football Game Preview: Week 3 vs Northern Illinois Huskies

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“I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball,” the ’90s alt-rock band Sublime told us; over and over again. The Nebraska football team practice this week in preparation for Santacaterina, Daniel, the Northern Illinois back-up quarterback who was pressed into duty last week when starter Ryan Graham went down with a sprained elbow for two-to-four weeks.

Santacaterina looked much better in week two than Graham did in week one, putting up numbers that were better much better by leaps and bounds. However, it’s not really that fair to compare to too much, as the level of opposition was quite different.

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Graham couldn’t find much accuracy, timing or consistency against an okay Boston College defense in week one. Santacaterina, nicknamed Santa, must have felt like Christmas this past Saturday against FCS foe Eastern Illinois.

KICKOFF: 11 am Saturday

SPREAD: Nebraska football -14

Nebraska Football Preview:

These days the Blackshirts are like video rental stores, a construct that was once prevalent a long time ago, but barely exists today. NU Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has to feel his seat getting warmer and warmer.

The Cornhuskers got outscored 42-14, and out-gained 409-171 in the first half at Oregon last week. They surrendered 365 yards and three touchdowns through the air to Ducks QB1 Justin Herbert, and allowed tailback Royce Freeman to run for 153 yards.

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The Huskers made some good halftime adjustments and greatly window-dressed the final score, but the damage had already been done. The previous week, Nebraska gave up 415 yards passing to a foe that’s only been competing on the FBS level since the early 1990s, and barely escaped with a win on the final play.

Two weeks of 2017 Nebraska football has seen 780 yards allowed through the air. If Diaco can’t figure something drastic out, and soon, he might have to start updating his resume this fall. The transition has from a four man front to a three man front, and with it the implementation of a more conservative scheme has been disastrous thus far.

Flipping over to the other side of the ball, where another major story line this week pertains to the health of the starting tailback. Tre Bryant could or could not be a game day decision. He did not participate in Monday’s practice due to a knee issue, Brian Christopherson of 247 Sports reports.

For now, Bryant seems probable, even if he can’t go, NU has a deep enough backfield that they can function just fine without their bonafide starter/feature back.

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QB Tanner Lee is going to have to get better though in a hurry. His box score from the game at University of Phil Knight last weekend is rather putrid.

NIU Huskies Preview:

As NIU prepare for a visit to a college football cathedral, one of the top five in the nation, in my opinion, they will have some insider knowledge. Said Northern Illinois Coach Rod Carey:

“Bret Diersen, our D line coach was an intern under Bo Pelini for two or three years I believe, so he has some knowledge, and certainly we’ll rely on him, for some knowledge on what he’s experienced.”

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Yes, Diersen, who is in his fifth year in DeKalb, is the Huskies’ DL coach and recruiting coordinator. He coached the D Line and special teams from 2008-10 at Nebraska. Thus, he was part of a staff that coached Ndamukong Suh when he won AP National player of the year as well as several defensive player of the year awards.

It’s really a shame that Chad Beebe, said of Buffalo Bills legend Don, got hurt yet again, and he won’t be able to play in this one. We had an exclusive with Beebe at Media Day, and discussed the Nebraska football game.

“That’s going to be a great atmosphere; kind of a once in a lifetime kind of thing, and I cannot wait to participate in that,” Beebe the Younger said last month. With his engaging personality, and all the injury setbacks that he’s suffered, you can’t help but root for the guy. 

Without Beebe, a Huskies passing attack that was already suspect to begin with takes a big hit.

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Obviously, the Nebraska pass defense is extremely vulnerable right now, but NIU doesn’t really have the means to exploit it right now. Of course, let’s not forget that Carey is 3-1 against the B1G (Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue) and that the one was a one possession loss to #1 Ohio State in 2015.

Prediction for novelty purposes only: Nebraska football 31, NIU Huskies 27

For the extremely concerned subset of Nebraska football fans worried about NIU coming in as a mid-major bracket buster, relax, as these are definitely not your older brother’s Huskies.

It remains to be seen whether last year’s 5-7 was just a blip, or indicative of a general trend. What we do know now is that the very game effort against B.C. in week one looks much less impressive now after the Eagles got pantsed by Wake Forest in week two.

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On the other hand, the Cornhuskers being two touchdown favorites is pretty ridiculous right now. NIU keeps it close, but no cigar. The Huskies had a quarterback controversy this summer, and that’s indicative of issues at the position overall. These kind of issues have plagued the team past couple years.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

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