I've singled out 5 Key Matchups to watch for tomorrow night, and in no particular order, they are:
(1) USC WR's David Ausberry (X) and Patrick Turner (Z) vs. Nebraska CB's Cortney Grixby, Armando Murillo, Zachary Bowman, and Andre Jones
Nebraska rotates their defensive backs regularly so Booty won't be able to lock in on a particular mismatch. Ausberry (6-4) and Turner (6-5) should have no problem though, given their definite size and strength advantage over Nebraska's cornerbacks. Bowman (6-2, 200) is probably the only Husker CB physical enough to play press coverage against these guys, but he has battled leg injuries the past two seasons and may not be quick enough to stay with them all night. Grixby, the starter on the weakside stands at only 5-9 and is guaranteed to be matched up against a taller, more physical USC WR all night. Murillo (6-0) and Jones (6-0) will be facing a similar mismatch on the other side. Expect the Huskers to play a lot of zone coverage underneath where they can keep things in front and possibly use their speed and quickness to jump on some routes. If the Huskers play a lot soft coverage, then USC will eat them alive with the quick hitch pass that Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett executed so effectively in recent years.
(2) USC C Kris O'Dowd vs. Nebraska NT Ndamukong Suh
O'Dowd, a true freshman, started against Idaho and played very admirably in his first collegiate game. There weren't any bad snaps and the run game looked solid. He'll have his hands full in Lincoln though, not only with the crowd noise and the snap count, but with blocking the disruptive nose tackle Suh. O'Dowd will need help from his guards Jeff Byers and Chilo Rachal in order to keep Suh out of USC's backfield. This is the matchup that most intrigues me and will be following the most.
(3) USC OT's Sam Baker and Charles Brown vs. Nebraska DE Zach Potter
Potter stands at an astounding 6-7 and is listed as the Base DE, which means he'll probably be lined up to USC's strong side in between the tackle and tight end. It will be very important for TE Fred Davis or FB Stanley Havili to chip Potter at the line of scrimmage, which will help Baker and Brown engage Potter and keep him from batting down Booty's passes.
(4) USC WLB Keith Rivers vs. Nebraska TB Marlon Lucky
Lucky looks pretty comfortable catching passes out of the backfield, and I expect Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan to test Rivers' coverage skills early and often. Lucky will have a big role in the passing game tomorrow, whether it be on play-action, screens, wheel routes, short crossing routes, or even as a decoy. Rivers and the rest of the LB's and secondary will need to know where Lucky is at all times. I'm not to worried about him running the football, Rey, big Sed, and the rest of the D-Line can take care of that.
(5) USC DE's Lawrence Jackson, Kyle Moore, and Everson Griffen vs. Nebraska OT's Lydon Murtha and Carl Nicks
Sam Keller hasn't really mastered Bill Callahan's offense in his first two games as starter, but, like most Division I QB's, he can tear defenses apart if given time to throw. More importantly, Keller is turnover prone and will fold under pressure if USC's pass rush rattles him early. Nebraska's OT's haven't been tested yet, so this will be a golden opportunity for LoJack, K. Moore, and E. Griffen to awaken USC's pass rush.
So what can we expect tomorrow? Offensively, I think the Trojans should be able to at least equal the 200 plus yards that Wake Forest rushed for against Nebraska, which will then open things up in the passing game. The Trojans will score first, and with a healthy Chauncey, USC will have 3 fresh RB's (C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson) wearing down the Huskers' defense. Defensively, I expect the Trojans to shut down Nebraska's running game early and force the Huskers into a lot of 3rd and long situations. Callahan will then try to spread the USC defense out and let Keller win the game with his arm. However, once the Huskers abandon the running game, it will be lights out. Unless Nebraska gets some cheap touchdowns from its defense or special teams, I don't expect this game to be as close as some people think. USC has some doubters out there, and it's time to make a statement...Prediction: USC 38, Nebraska 13
Joey: I think this game is close for a half, but no one makes better halftime adjustments than our man Pete Carroll.... Prediction: USC 38 Nebraska 17
RG3: Pain... plain and simple. Like Clubber Lang said in Rocky 3, USC is going to take it to the Cornhuskers and overpower them. After losing some first place votes, Pete Carroll is going to make a statement. He's going to tell Rey to silence all the doubters out there... hard... USC 38, Nebraska 10
PCBestever: You know what happens when you miss a meal? You get hungry. The boys are hungry and its time to Feed the Beast! Big Balls Pete and the Trojans are going to decimate Nebraska. Prediction: USC 52, Nebraska 13