Published Friday, September 13, 2013 AT 8:11 PM / Updated at 8:11 PM
ABC analyst Chris Spielman talks Nebraska-UCLA
Rich Kaipust Omaha World-Herald

ABC analyst Chris Spielman found out last Sunday that he would be doing the Nebraska-UCLA game with Sean McDonough this week. He immediately liked the assignment.

“First of all, I always enjoy coming to Lincoln,” he said. “I think it’s a great venue and the fans are great, and you can’t go a block without hitting a steakhouse.”

We quote Spielman briefly in our Husker-Bruin advance in Saturday’s paper, but here are some other thoughts from the former Ohio State and NFL linebacker.

Q: What’s your initial thoughts about NU-UCLA?

A: It’s a pretty good matchup. It’s a chance to evaluate where Nebraska really is, and a chance to evaluate where UCLA really is.

Q: Safe to say fans should brace for a shootout, considering last year’s game was 36-30 and both teams are loaded offensively?

A: There was something like 1,200 yards of total offense last year, but that’s the nature of college football nowadays. It sometimes turns into whoever has the ball last has a chance to win. But there’ll be some good players on both defenses.

Q: Which quarterback is more important to his team’s success Saturday, Taylor Martinez for NU or Brett Hundley for UCLA?

A: I would think probably Martinez, No. 1 because they’re at home and there’s always more pressure for a quarterback at home.

There’s a lot of talent on that offensive side of the ball for them. Frankly, I might be a bigger Taylor Martinez fan than anybody in Nebraska, because he’s so explosive. He is what Braxton Miller is to Ohio State.

Q: Do you think UCLA has as much to prove as the Huskers?

A: I think UCLA is kind of under the radar. When you think Pac-12, what comes to mind right now is Stanford and Oregon. UCLA’s in a quiet position right now, for lack of a better term.

Q: Coaches have seemed to have mixed success making the jump from the NFL to college football. How would you say Jim Mora Jr. is working out at UCLA?

A: I think it’s awesome. I really think that was a great hire. For one, they needed maybe a different style, so they went out and got maybe more of a harder guy, personality-wise. I think their kids have taken on a harder-type image or persona as a team.

Q: Being a Big Ten guy, what do you think about the league so far after two weeks?

A: I thought it would be better, and so far that’s proven out. I thought Northwestern would be pretty good; Wisconsin’s pretty good; you’ve got Nebraska, obviously; Michigan State, if it can find any kind of offense …

People have seen what a new look Michigan has with Devin Gardner running Al Borges’ offense. Illinois, with what it did against Cincinnati, must be better. I think the Big Ten is deeper than people give it credit for.

Q: Who did you pick before the season and has your opinion changed at all?

A: Until Ohio State loses a game, I still think they’re the favorite.

About Rich Kaipust

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football. You can follow Rich on Twitter (@RKaipustOWH) or email him at