Nebraska football opponent preview, Week 2: Oregon

After a dramatic season opener against Arkansas State, Nebraska will hit the road to take on Oregon in Eugene. Here's what you need to know about the Ducks heading into Saturday's game:

Previous meetings

The Huskers have won the last five meetings against Oregon dating back to 1971. Nebraska edged out a 35-32 victory over the Ducks the last time the two played, but much has changed since then.

Oregon is under new leadership with head coach Willie Taggart taking Mark Helfrich's place at the helm of the program. Taggart comes to Oregon after coaching stints at Western Kentucky and South Florida. 

Nebraska has seen its fair share of changes as well, with Bob Diaco taking over as defensive coordinator and installing a 3-4 defense and a new starting quarterback in Tanner Lee.

STORY: Oregon monitoring air quality after wildfires cause practices to move

 

Offense

Oregon opened up its season with a bang against Southern Utah Saturday night. The Ducks rolled to a 77-21 win (the most points an Oregon team has scored since 1916) while racking up 703 yards of total offense. 

The Ducks led a balanced attack, with 348 rushing yards and 355 yards through the air. Running back Royce Freeman started his senior season out with 150 yards on 23 carries for four touchdowns. 

Freeman is seventh all-time in Pac-12 history in career rushing yards with 4,296, the most of any active FBS player. The last time these two teams met, Freeman had just five carries for 31 yards before leaving the game in the first quarter with a leg injury. Expect his role to be expanded from a year ago.

Sophomore Quarterback Justin Hebert threw for 281 yards and a touchdown while completing 17 of his 21 passes. 

Oregon's offense will operate at a faster pace than Arkansas State's did and with much better players.

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Defense

Oregon's defense held Southern Utah's work-horse to 60 yards on 20 carries in their season opener, and held the Thunderbirds to 99 rushing yards as a team. 

Troy Dye returns at linebacker after leading the Ducks in tackles in 2016 with 91. Dye led the defense with five tackles in its season opener last week. 

Brendan Schooler returns at safety after a 2016 season where he came up with 74 tackles and four interceptions. Overall, the Ducks' defense is as much of a question mark as the Huskers'.

STORY: What did Nebraska learn after week one victory over Arkansas State?

Special Teams

While Nebraska's JD Spielman showed that he could bring some explosion to the Huskers' return game, Oregon's Tony Brooks-James did the same in Eugene last week. 

Brooks-James took the opening kickoff of the season back for a 100-yard touchdown return. It's clear that the Ducks' speed spills over in the return game, which could cause the Huskers' issues after last week's problems with kick-coverage.

Nebraska will take on Oregon at Autzen Stadium Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

 

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