Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
2016 record: 9-4 (6-3 Big Ten)
Head coach: Mike Riley
2017 record so far: 1-1
Record vs. OSU since 2007: 1-4
What has happened thus far in 2017
There has been no shortage of scoring for Nebraska and coach Mike Riley in the first two weeks of their season. In Week 1, Nebraska fought off a second-half surge by Arkansas State to win 43-36 in the final seconds. The script was flipped in Week 2 when Nebraska traveled to Oregon and trailed the Ducks for most of the game, only to see its second-half comeback fall short, 42-35.
It’s difficult to find a more dangerous player on Nebraska’s roster than senior wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El. Pierson-El has recorded six catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns so far this year. The former freshman All-American at punt returner ranks third among active players in the country in career punt-return yardage. After an electrifying freshman campaign in 2014, Pierson-El sustained a knee injury that appeared to slow his production in his next two seasons. The versatile weapon is poised to return to form at full health and replace the production lost by graduated receiver Jordan Westerkamp, while continuing to be a mainstay in the return game.
The Huskers’ backfield houses two very different playmakers in junior quarterback Tanner Lee and sophomore running back Tre Bryant. Lee has stepped in to replace longtime quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. and has shown flashes of why he was a highly touted transfer from Tulane. Lee has thrown for 490 yards and five touchdowns on the season. Bryant has 299 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries.
Nebraska’s defensive efforts have not exactly been encouraging this season for new defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. Giving up 78 points in two games might be somewhat of an outlier due to playing two nonconference opponents with up-tempo offenses, but Nebraska has still allowed six touchdowns and 780 yards this season through the air. The secondary has been scrambling since senior cornerback Chris Jones tore his meniscus in July. Jones was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season.