Week 2 – Nebraska at UCLA

Posted Sep 6, 2012

Week 2 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story – Nebraska at UCLA

- CFN Fearless Predictions

Nebraska (1-0) at UCLA (1-0) Sept. 8, 7:30, Fox

Here's The Deal: Now that UCLA was able to turn a few heads with its opening week effort, it's looking to capture the attention of the entire country in Week 2. The Bruins played well in the debut of head coach Jim Mora, running away with a 49-24 victory that was unusually led by the offense. However, the victim was Rice, leaving many to wonder whether or not this program is truly ready to take a forward step following the miserable Rick Neuheisel era. While UCLA is at least a year away from being a serious threat in the Pac-12 South, beating a ranked opponent is the kind of thing that can instantly galvanize the fan base, and help raise awareness for would-be recruits. You could count on a few fingers the number of Big Ten teams that played their opener as if they were ready for the start of the 2012 season. Nebraska was one of them. The Huskers zipped past Southern Miss, 49-20, the reigning Conference USA champs and an always dangerous school. If the team is going to remain unbeaten an survive its only road game of September, it might have to do so without star RB Rex Burkhead. The senior injured his knee a week, leaving him questionable for Saturday night.

Why Nebraska Might Win: At best, Burkhead still won't be at full strength, which means other Huskers will need to step. Taylor Martinez looks as if he'll be up to the task. The heavily-scrutinized quarterback is coming off the best game of his career, throwing five touchdown passes, without a pick, to five different receivers. Plus, Ameer Abdullah is not a typical backup, an elusive sophomore who went for 81 yards a week ago. Physical at the point of attack, Nebraska will manage the Bruins defense in order to allow Martinez and Abdullah to squirt through holes. Bruins QB Brett Hundley played well in his first game, but he'll find the Huskers D a lot more challenging than that of Rice. LB Will Compton will keep his eyes on the elusive hurler, making sure he can't get beyond the second level.

Why UCLA Might Win: The offense looked very good last Thursday, regardless of who was playing defense on the other side of the line. A more pro-style approach seems to fit the Bruins personnel, though the running game remains king on campus for now. Not only is Hundley a threat to take off from the pocket, but Johnathan Franklin is one of the Pac-12's most underrated backs. He exploded for 214 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries, and is capable of carrying this attack on his back. The Nebraska D is solid, but not impenetrable now that tackling machine Lavonte David is playing on Sundays. UCLA has had problems rushing the passer in recent years, but six sacks in the opener could be a sign that this defense is prepared to turn the corner in 2012.

What To Watch Out For: Martinez. Is he the real deal, or was last week in Lincoln a fluke? He's had the occasional big games through the air in the past, but typically follows them up with a series of clunkers. Hey, Martinez isn't the kind of passer that'll make NFL GMs swoon, but after an offseason of dedication to his craft, he does appear to have cleaned up his mechanics and decision-making. With a clear and present threat in the passing game, the Huskers are a completely different team, one that could jump to the head of the Big Ten line. Not only did last week's five touchdown passes incite a victory, but it also gave UCLA coaches something additional to think about. If the Bruins don't cover WR Kenny Bell and TE Kyler Reed, Martinez is now capable of making them pay for it through the air.

What Will Happen: Not so fast, Bruins. UCLA is clearly headed in the right direction under Mora, but Nebraska will be like biting off a little more than the team can chew at this time. The Bruins are still a little young, and are searching for an identity. While Franklin can play with anyone, his O-line is uncertain, Hundley is green and the defense needs more time to gel. Martinez will balance a little more running with his passing this week, getting ample support from Abdullah and the receivers. The Huskers D will take UCLA down a peg, reminding it that it remains an unbalanced and inconsistent production.

CFN Prediction: Nebraska 31 … UCLA 23
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Nebraska -5.5 O/U: 60
Must Watch Rating (5 – Phineas & Ferb, 1 – Steve Harvey): 3