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UB football gameday: Bulls at Nebraska

UB football gameday: Bulls at Nebraska

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Buffalo Wagner College Football

University at Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist celebrates a touchdown against Wagner during the second half at UB Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.

TV: Big Ten Network.

Radio: ESPN 1520-AM.

Records: UB 1-0, Nebraska 1-1.

Odds: Nebraska, by 13.5 (via FanDuel.com).

Last time out: UB defeated Wagner, 69-7. Quarterback Kyle Vantrease threw for 231 yards and a touchdown on 15 of 19 passing, and wide receiver Quian Williams had five catches for 96 yards.

Nebraska defeated Fordham, 52-7. Quarterback Adrian Martinez threw for 254 yards and a touchdown, on 17 of 23 passing.

What to watch

Offense

UB: The Bulls struck a balance between the run and the pass in the season opener against Wagner, throwing for 257 yards and rushing for 312 – including 94 rushing yards from Ron Cook Jr. – and their challenge on offense is to produce against a Power 5 team. The Bulls utilized nine receivers against Wagner, and could continue that variety against the Huskers, whose defense has allowed an average of 148 rushing yards and 162 passing yards in their first two games.

Nebraska: The Huskers had a slow offensive start against Fordham, but finished with 633 yards of offense (329 rushing yards, 304 passing yards). Martinez (144 yards) and Markese Stepp (111 yards) are the leading rushers, and Samori Toure (170 yards) and Oliver Martin (103 yards) are their leading receivers.

Defense

UB: The Bulls held Wagner to 97 yards, including only 18 rushing yards, and its defensive line played as if it hadn’t missed a step, particularly defensive end Taylor Riggins, who had two of UB’s five sacks in his first game in nearly two years. UB’s defense has to capitalize against a Nebraska offensive line that is still a work in progress as it prepares for its third game.

Nebraska: The Huskers gave up a first-quarter touchdown to Fordham last weekend, but the defense quickly righted itself and allowed the Rams 292 yards of offense, including only 71 yards in the second half. The pass defense was also opportunistic, intercepting Fordham quarterback Tim DeMorat three times.  

Special teams

UB: The punters didn’t get any sort of workout against Wagner, while their kickoff team was on the field 12 times. Expect those numbers to look different against Nebraska. Williams and Cook quickly became a tandem on punt returns, averaging a combined 11 yards – a number that should increase, both this weekend and as the season progresses.

Nebraska: Special teams hasn’t been a strength early this season, particularly in its season opener against Illinois, when gaffes on returns and on kicking dubiously stood out. The Huskers got a reprieve against Fordham, as Connor Culp made Nebraska’s only field goal and seven PATs, and Zavier Betts averaged 17.5 yards on two kickoff returns.

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College/high school sports enterprise reporter

I'm a college/high school sports enterprise reporter at The Buffalo News. I've worked in sports journalism since 1997 and I have covered everything from college football to the Stanley Cup playoffs, high school sports and the NCAA Tournament.

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