Miami (FL) @ Nebraska
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
1am Irish Time (Saturday night) September 21st 2014 (ESPN2)
After a nail-biting win at home in Week 2 against a lowly FCS foe in McNeese State, many experts thought the #24 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers were doomed for the remainder of the 2014 campaign. However, the Cornhuskers rebounded nicely in Week 3 to devour Fresno State on the road, 55-19. The 3-0 squad from the midwest might have a solid shot at a Big Ten title after all. The ACC looks like a weaker conference this year than in years past because of the top-heavy direction that it has been moving in. While Florida State will likely run away with the conference title for a third straight season, the Miami Hurricanes will look to put up a fight and rebound from a week one conference blowout against the Louisville Cardinals.
Nebraska has one of the better offenses in the somewhat-unimpressive Big Ten this season behind the strong rushing attack of Ameer Abdullah and quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. which ranks ninth in the nation in terms of yards per game. Abdullah was a preseason Heisman contender and he has done nothing but aid that distinction with 396 yards and three touchdowns on 6.9 yards per carry while Armstrong Jr. has 258 yards and two touchdowns of his own on 9.6 yards per run. Sophomore running back Terrell Newby has also been solid, racking up 134 yards and two scores while Imani Cross has 102 yards and two touchdowns on 11.3 yards per carry. Armstrong Jr. has been solid in the passing game, throwing for 773 yards and seven touchdowns with just one pick. Jordan Westerkamp leads all receivers with 13 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns while Kenny Bell and Abdullah have 214 yards and 105 yards, respectively.
Miami hasn’t showcased a very impressive offense this season, ranking 63rd in the nation in passing yards per game, 93rd in rushing yards per game and 67th in points per contest. A reason for the sluggish start is the introduction of new starters on offense, including freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya. The first-year collegiate QB hasn’t been completely poor for the 2-1 Hurricanes as he has completed 60 percent of his passes for 693 yards and seven touchdowns while five interceptions to go along with it. His inability to scramble has led to some problems as he has been in the negatives in terms of rushing yards through the first three weeks of the season. The freshman has developed a strong connection with senior wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, connecting eight times for 284 yards and four touchdowns — that’s an astounding 35.5 yards per catch. Clive Walford, Herb Waters and Braxton Berrios all have over 100 yards receiving each, combining for 344 yards and two touchdowns on 28 catches. Don’t sleep on the run game, however, as the electric Duke Johnson leads the way with 277 yards and two touchdown on 6.4 yards per touch.
Defensively, the Hurricanes have been one of the more solid teams in the ACC, ranking 35th in the nation in points allowed per game with 19.3 and eighth in the nation in yards allowed per contest with just 259.7. They will have their hands full with the best offense they have faced yet in Nebraska, however. The Cornhuskers needed to improve defensively this season in order to compete — and they have done so. Nebraska ranks 20th in points allowed per game with 16.7 while ranking 18th in the nation in yards allowed per game with 294.7. It’s safe to say the Cornhuskers have improved defensively, although they are lightly tested thus far.
PREDICTION: Miami 20, Nebraska 34