When it comes to college football, what are you most looking forward to about this Saturday? Most people would say the Alabama-Texas A&M match-up. Others might say watching Mack Brown and Texas, just to see if the Longhorns falter. Regardless the answer, there are far fewer people outside of Nebraska and UCLA fans saying the Huskers-Bruins matchup.
That’s really too bad too, because that exact match-up in Lincoln, Neb. is going to provide one of the best face offs of college quarterbacks this season.
Both Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley have had their names tossed into the Heisman ring. Two very dynamic players, Martinez and Hundley have set themselves up as leaders and effective offensive-producers for their respective teams.
For Martinez, what sets him apart is his legs. Hundley can run too, but not quite like Martinez can. UCLA’s coaching staff knows this too.
“You have to be sound in your assignments and stay in your gaps,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora told the Los Angeles Times.
Even then, Mora knows that may not even be enough. “He is still going to make plays because he is an elusive runner.”
Bruins defensive coordinator Lou Spanos agrees. “He keeps plays alive. He does a great job of scrambling and finding receivers.”
For Hundley, the Nebraska’s coaches and team are just as complimentary.
“He’s mobile, he’s a very good passer, he can throw the deep ball, he’s accurate, he can do a lot of great things,” Nebraska cornerback Ciante Evans said of Hundley during Monday’s press conference.
In fact, Evans went on to say that Hundley is the second best quarterback he has ever faced, right behind Ohio State’s Braxton Miller.
So how do they match-up numbers-wise?
In his final year as Nebraska’s starting quarterback, Martinez has gotten the season off to a good start by throwing three touchdown passes against both Wyoming and Southern Miss. His running has been more limited, which some believe could be a result of a bruised shoulder he obtained against the Cowboys, but it most likely is due to the senior not needing to. With talented backs and receivers around him, Martinez has had more opportunity to hand the ball off.
While Nebraska may have lost in their 2012 meeting in California, Martinez did throw for 179 yards. He also put another 112 on the board on the ground.
As for Hundley, when he faced Nebraska in 2012, it was only his second start as a redshirt freshman. He threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns in the 36-30 win over the Huskers. He also had zero interceptions in that game. From there, Hundley threw for at least 300 yards in three straight games during his rookie season, making him the first UCLA quarterback to do so.
Coming into his redshirt sophomore season, Hundley ranked second in the Pac-12 in passing from 2012. He’ll put pressure on the Nebraska secondary and test their ability to defend the pass.
Martinez is a couple of years ahead of Hundley, which makes his numbers stand out a little more. Regardless, Hundley is right there with Martinez seeking the attention of football fans everywhere. These two players are competing equally for their opportunity for an invite to New York City. They both could make it, too.
The over/under for Saturday’s game is 70.5 points. Between Martinez and Hundley, that number could be surpassed easily by the end of the third quarter. Saturday is going to be fun. Having the opportunity to watch two dynamic quarterbacks face off is a storyline being missed by the national media.
For Nebraska, that’s okay though. Less pressure isn’t a bad thing prior to a big game. However, there is no doubt this game won’t have many talking by the end. One team has to win, but both teams will walk out of the stadium with a quarterback worth noticing.
It may be a bigger game for Martinez to win as far as his legacy goes, but don’t discredit what a win could mean for Hundley either. Both will be motivated to add to their growing list of accomplishments.
Come Saturday, only one thing truly stands in Martinez’s and Hundley’s ways – each other.