Published Saturday, September 21, 2013 AT 3:29 PM / Updated at 3:35 PM
First quarter: South Dakota State 17, Nebraska 14
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Uh-oh. The Jackrabbits came to play again. Nebraska better be ready for another tough one.

The Huskers never pulled away from South Dakota State three years ago, winning 17-3. And if they’re not careful, this will go right down to the wire. Not necessarily a slugfest, but a shootout.

The Jackrabbits, particularly on offense, seem to be well prepared for this one, most certainly catching Nebraska off-guard. Their tempo seems to have flustered NU. Running back Zach Zenner (123 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries) is better than advertised.

A couple sacks toward the end of the first quarter stalled out the most recent South Dakota State drive, but credit the Jackrabbits for calling a timeout and kicking with the wind — junior Justin Syrovatka nailed a 48-yard field goal to make it 17-14.

Nebraska’s offense has been just as effective, well, minus that fumble by Ameer Abdullah.

Some other observations are below…

>> Nebraska’s entire defense huddled together on the sidelined after South Dakota State’s second score. John Papuchis, Rick Kaczenski, Ciante Evans and Spencer Long were among those who had something to say. … Bo Pelini had to spend a timeout on the most recent Jackrabbit possession, too. Something’s off with this group. Perhaps those two sacks (by sophomores David Santos and Randy Gregory) boost their confidence.

>> Santos and junior Zaire Anderson replaced starting linebackers Josh Banderas and Nate Gerry after the first two touchdown drives for South Dakota State. It’s been mostly nickel formation so far for Nebraska. The Jackrabbits, clearly, are trying to spread out the Huskers and run against smaller numbers right up the gut.

>> Three targets and three catches (totaling 37 yards) for sophomore tight end Cam Jones. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, he’ll be a tough match-up all day for the Huskers.

>> Nebraska’s tested the South Dakota State secondary downfield. More so than it did against UCLA last week. The wheel route to Abdullah for 28 yards, the incomplete deep pass to Kenny Bell in the end zone (traveled about 45 yards in the air) and the 33-yard jump ball for Quincy Enunwa on third down. NU needs more of those vertical throws.

>> Abdullah was back with Bell to return the game’s opening kickoff. It was his first appearance on special teams this year. … He left the game with what appeared to be a right shoulder injury (after the fumble), but he’s returned since.

>> Junior Corey Cooper served as the substitute captain, replacing the injured Taylor Martinez (who’s not suited up).

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: jon.nyatawa@owh.com. He welcomes feedback.