Game Day Guide: What you need to know for Nebraska-Northwestern
We're back from the bye week, and Northwestern is in town. Here's your latest game day guide for Nebraska.
Welcome back, Husker fans. Hope you enjoyed your bye week.
It’s going to be a big day in Nebraska, whether you’re planning to watch football’s matchup with Northwestern, volleyball’s matchup with Wisconsin — that’s scheduled for 7 p.m. on Big Ten Network — or both. We recommend both (and Counter Read will be at both as well, and we’ll host a game day chat for our paid subscribers for each event).
As for football (because this game day guide is geared toward that), here’s what you need to know:
Linebacker Luke Reimer is back for Nebraska, which is great news for multiple reasons. Of course it’s great for the Blackshirts as the Huskers’ work through the second half of their season, but it’s especially great for Reimer. He first went out after an injury suffered against Louisiana Tech, but then missed the following two games with an illness. He was taken to the hospital the morning of the matchup with Michigan.
Through three and a half games, Reimer had 14 tackles, three quarterback hurries and 2.5 sacks.
On the quarterback front, it’s all Heinrich Haarberg. That’s right — there is no guessing this week. Jeff Sims — who was the original starter for the Huskers this season at QB — has been out as he’s rehabbed a high-ankle spring.
“We’ll play with Heinrich for now, Jeff is ready to go on a moment’s notice,” coach Matt Rhule said earlier this week. “We mix (Jeff) in with the ones a lot in practice, I would have no problem ever having a package to play him too. Not saying we would do that, but I have no problem with the way he works.
“But to me, Heinrich’s played well, Heinrich’s done some good things, so he’ll be the starter.”
Coaches and players praised Sims throughout this week, sharing how well he’s handled his role on the team. Tight end Thomas Fidone, for instance, called Sims impressive through this.
“When Heinrich makes a great play, he's right there cheering him on . . .” Fidone said. “A lot of players wouldn't do that I feel like. That's a grown adult. It takes a lot of maturity to be able to do something like that."
As for this matchup with Northwestern, Nebraska is the clear favorite (at least according to Vegas). If Nebraska can win this by two scores, it’ll definitely be a more unique win in the history between the Huskers and Wildcats. Of the 12 meetings between the two since 2011, eight have been decided by three points or fewer.
Here’s to hoping that’s not the case on Saturday. Why? Well, Northwestern holds the edge in those eight close games — 5-3.
As Nebraska looks to get itself bowl eligible (more on that below), a strong win over Northwestern sure wouldn’t hurt.
And then we can all watch volleyball.
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Nebraska versus Northwestern: Everything you need to know for game day
TV Channel: Big Ten Network (Cory Provus, Jake Butt, Brooke Fletcher)
Date: Saturday, October 21
Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
Live Stream: FoxSports.com (with TV provider)
Radio: Nebraska fans can listen to the game on the Huskers Radio Network. Internet radio, as well as a Spanish broadcast, will be available at Huskers.com.
Location: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
Weather: Sunny skies with a high of 74 degrees. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.
Line: Nebraska -10.5
Coach Matt Rhule on the return of a key defensive player:
“Just an injury update and you might have to help with this, Luke Reimer will be back with us this week so excited to have Luke back. Other than that, I think we’re a pretty healthy team. DeShon Singleton will still be out but we’re excited to have Luke back. Obviously he will be a big boom for our defense so big week for us, huge week for us.”
Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg on Nebraska’s offense so far this season:
“I think we saw from spring into the fall that this offense is constantly evolving, just because we have so many dynamic players. We have had a couple injuries, guys that need, as we said, need to come along a little bit. So, when guys like Marcus (Washington) go down, that kind of takes away some of the experience on the outside, so you have to change a little bit. But I don’t think we’re going to shift entirely as an offense. It’s just shifting the load a little bit.”
Other games we’re watching
(All games in CT)
Morning - No. 7 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State, 11 a.m., FOX
According to the Big Ten Conference in every new series of schedules it makes, Penn State doesn’t have a rival. For Ohio State, its rival is Michigan. Obviously. However, if we were to give the Buckeyes a backup rival, I’d make it the Nittany Lions. Don’t come for me if you disagree. Nebraska’s only been in the Big Ten since 2011 and the conference keeps changing, so I’m allowed to do whatever I want. Anyway, Penn State coach James Franklin said this week that his team is closing the gap on top-5 programs. Is that true? We’ll find out soon enough.
Afternoon - No. 17 Tennessee at No. 11 Alabama, 2:30 p.m., CBS
Tennessee beat Alabama in 2022. That late field goal was dramatic, wasn’t it? It doesn’t feel like this year’s matchup will mirror that (especially not in the number of points involved), but it should still be a good game. I’m taking Alabama, mostly because I’m not sure what to make of some parts of the Vols’ game — like its passing game specifically.
Evening - No. 2 Michigan at Michigan State, 6:30 p.m., NBC
I debated taking No. 16 Duke at No. 4 Florida State, or even No. 14 Utah at No. 18 USC . . . and yet here we are. Reports this week said Michigan State told the Big Ten it might not play this game because of concern for the health and safety of its players. Why? Well, the conference had given the Spartans a heads up about the investigation from the NCAA into Michigan’s alleged sign-stealing. So, there’s that. Whatever happens with Michigan will certainly extend beyond just this matchup, but maybe the Spartans dig deep and hand the Wolverines a loss. Maybe not. It’s still going to be interesting to watch.
Morning - No. 22 Air Force at Navy, 11 a.m., CBS
Air Force cracked the AP poll following last week’s win over Wyoming, and as long as the Falcons stay undefeated they probably have the inside track to the Group of 5 spot in the CFP bowls. My heart races a bit just thinking of the triple option in one of the major bowls. While Navy is a 10-point home underdog, there’s a special kind of hate reserved for Air Force (same at Army), so I wouldn’t be surprised if this one stays close longer than expected.
Afternoon - Minnesota at No. 24 Iowa, 2:30 p.m., NBC
This won’t be a fun game to watch, but as a second-screen option opposite Nebraska it probably offers the most bang for your buck in terms of learning something more about the Big Ten West. Iowa is only favored by 3.5, while most of the computer models would have the Hawkeyes as a touchdown favorite or more. The Hawkeyes’ defense is as good as you’ll find this year, but with an offense as limited as this one almost any team can knock off Iowa with a break or two. The Huskers are only a game behind Iowa in the loss column, so it’s probably better for Nebraska’s division-title hopes if the Hawkeyes win, but those hopes certainly aren’t dead if Minnesota rows upstream to a win.
Evening - Arizona State at No. 5 Washington, 9:30 p.m., FS1
I’m not even picking a game in the traditional evening slot because Wisconsin-Nebraska volleyball should have your full attention. But once that’s over, I’m eager to get another look at Washington coming off last week’s big win over Oregon. Is there any hangover against an overmatched Arizona State team? The Huskies are very good. A great team puts this game away halfway through the second quarter. I’ll tune in to see if Washington’s needle is bouncing closer to the great end of the meter.