Oregon vs. Nebraska: The X Factors

“It’s an awesome atmosphere,” Helfrich said. “Embrace it and accept the challenge.”

The #22 Oregon Ducks will match up against the Nebraska Huskers tomorrow at 12:30 PST. on ABC  in their first road game of the season.

After showing some solid improvement between game one and two this season, the Ducks will find their biggest test of the season in Lincoln, likely in front of over 90,000 fans.

Yes, 90,000 plus.

In case you missed the memo, Nebraska is now coached by former Oregon State Head Coach, Mike Riley, a familiar foe to Oregon Football. Unfortunately for Oregon fans, this won’t be a Civil War 2.0.

Obviously, Nebraska is a very different type of team, with much deeper talent that Oregon is used to seeing from recent Oregon State team. Not only do they have a more successful recruiting history, they are much more physical and currently undefeated, just like the Ducks. We’re only 2 games into the season, but still. . . .

Offensively, the Oregon vs. Nebraska match up looks to be a high scoring affair. Both teams have decidedly beaten each of their last two opponents, with Nebraska winning by 33 and 35 points and Oregon winning by 25 and 18 points. Each has also racked up around 1000 yards of total offense this season (Oregon-1154 and Nebraska-956) with both gaining yardage pretty evenly on the ground and through the air.

Defensively, Nebraska, though not perfect, has performed a bit better, holding opponents to 27 cumulative points this season. Oregon, on the other hand, has allowed a total of 54 points (28 points against UC Davis (FCS) and 26 points against a mediocre Virginia team).

In the Ducks’ favor however, is the number of Sacks obtained. While Nebraska has tallied 5 sacks in two games, Oregon is averaging 4 per game thus far.

By the overall numbers, Oregon and Nebraska look very similar. Nebraska has scored 95 points to Oregon’s 97 this season, with most points coming from touchdowns, and each has lost between 4-5 fumbles and lost similar yardage via penalties (Oregon-188 Nebraska-173).


This is Oregon quarterback, Dakota Prukop’s first season with the Ducks, after transferring in as a graduate student from Montana State where he gained the attention of notable FBS programs like Alabama.

Nebraska’s quarterback, Tommy Armstrong Jr., on the other hand, has led the Huskers for the last 3 seasons, with 33 career starts. Last season, in his first season under Coach Mike Riley’s offense, Armstrong, a duel threat quarterback, was ranked second in the Big 10 in passing and total offense.

This season, both quarterbacks have performed well but Prukop is standing out with a 68% completion percentage, 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Conversely, Armstrong Jr. has a 57% pass completion percentage with just 4 touchdowns and an interception.

X Factor #1

For all of the similar stats these teams bring into the game, one stands out.

Though each team has effectively padded their scoreboards, Nebraska currently leads the country in points scored in the 4th quarter, with an average of 25. Oregon, however, has struggled in this area, scoring just 14 points against UC Davis and no points against Virginia in the fourth quarter.

In what could be a bad sign, Oregon Head Coach, Mark Helfrich, said yesterday that practice had gone much like the two first games, starting solid for 3 quarters before falling off in the fourth.

With two solid offenses coming into this game, the team that finishes strong could very well take home the W.

X Factor #2

What is often lost on Oregon fans in this post-Mariota, high-expectations era, is the fact that this Oregon team is very, very young. Between the offense, defense and special teams, Oregon’s depth chart has 15 freshman or redshirt freshman listed, with 4 sitting in the #1 spot.

Add to that, both sides are adjusting to new coordinators and a new defensive scheme under Defensive Coordinator, Brady Hoke. Growing pains are to be expected and they have clearly been front and center already this season.

But Oregon is not alone.

It turns out that Nebraska has even more freshman/redshirt freshman on its depth chart. 22 to be exact. The only difference is that only one of those is listed in the #1 spot.

With so many young players on the field, the game could take a turn either way but one has to think the home team will have the advantage here, which may not bode well for Oregon.

While the Oregon coaching staff has said this week they expect even the young guys to be veterans at this point, team veterans like receivers, Darren Carrington and Devon Allen, lineman, Cameron Hunt and Tyrell Crosby and defensive stand outs, Johnny Ragin III and Tyree Robinson are said to have been helping prepare the younger guys this week.

Receiver, Devon Allen, explained yesterday that most of that preparation comes though getting lots of reps in practice.

“Being confident in what you’re doing means you’re going to be confident on the field,” Allen said. “If you’re not thinking too much about what you have to do, you can focus more on ‘Hey! This is loud, I need to focus on the snap count. . .!'”.

While the team, young and old, can focus on preparing to play on the road, in front of a loud crowd, 90,000 plus strong, the biggest piece of advice they’ve received this week is simply to enjoy the moment.

“It’s an awesome atmosphere,” Helfrich said. “Embrace it and accept the challenge.”

It’s going to be a fun one, Oregon fans! After all, this is what college football is all about- a big game on a big stage with predictions galore. One thing is for sure though . . .

On a stage like this, anything can happen.

What’s your prediction? Comment below and let us know!

Follow Nichole on Twitter @UOgridirongirl




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