Controversy is nothing new for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who was already facing the ire of a passionate fan base following the team's most lopsided home loss to a non-conference opponent since 1961. On Saturday, he will try to generate some positive vibes for his program at home against South Dakota State after an off-the-record conversation became public earlier in the week. The Cornhuskers are coming off a 41-21 loss last Saturday against UCLA in which they surrendered 38 unanswered points.
However, hours after a sharp response on Monday to former Husker great Tommie Frazier's suggestion that the Huskers should fire the entire defensive staff, a 2011 recording of Pelini criticizing the fan base surfaced. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman suggested he was "disappointed and in discussions with (athletic director) Shawn Eichorst about addressing the issue". The Jackrabbits, who lost 17-3 at Nebraska when the teams last met in 2010, are 3-0 for the first time since 2009.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: None.
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (3-0): The Jackrabbits feature Zach Zenner, who paced college football with 2,044 rushing yards in 2012 and leads all Division I players this year with 540 rushing yards. South Dakota State has also generated 12 turnovers - tied with Charlotte for the most in FBS and FCS - and leads both subdivisions with a plus-11 turnover differential. The Jackrabbits forced four interceptions and two fumbles in last Saturday's 34-26 comeback victory over Southeastern Louisiana and have created at least three turnovers in each of their games.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (2-1): Much of the panic surrounding the Cornhuskers revolves around the 28 points they allowed in the third quarter to the Bruins, the most points they have surrendered in one quarter in the 80-year history of Memorial Stadium. UCLA also gained 504 yards of total offense against Nebraska, marking the second time in three games this season in which it yielded at least that many after giving up 602 two weeks earlier versus Wyoming. Despite the recent woes, Nebraska can close out its non-conference schedule with a winning record for the 32nd straight year with a win on Saturday.
1. Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez has thrown three touchdowns in all three games this season, matching the number of times he did so over his first three years.
2. The Jackrabbits have yet to turn the ball over on offense this season (their lone turnover came on an onside kick last week).
3. The 14-point margin of victory over South Dakota State in 2010 is the closest of Nebraska's last nine matchups against an FCS foe.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 41, South Dakota State 24