In Perspective: Nebraska vs Kansas - Where The Game Will Be Won

I don't hate saying I told you so..... but when you've been married 20 years, you have a tendency to point out the times you're right because they seem to be so few. Last week I stated that the Oklahoma game would be close and be won by the team that came up with a few big plays. Well.... Prince Amukamara's interception and return to the one was all it took to set up the winning points. 

The Oklahoma game established a blueprint for Husker victory the rest of the season -  gain turnovers, play field position, and establish a running game. 

 

Nebraska     Kansas  
  National Big 12   National Big 12
3rd Down Conversions 66 8   39 3
Red Zone Conversions (Score %) 97 11   41 6
           
Turnover Margin 61 7   79 10
Sacks 11 3   15 2
Tackles for Loss 21 3   28 5
Sacks Allowed 30 4   88 10
Punting (Avg) 59 6   60 7
Punt Returns 43 5   91 10
Kickoff Returns 74 10   65 8
Penalties (Yds/G) 108 9   35 1

In one week's time, Nebraska dropped from 36th nationally to 66th in third down conversions. Converting one of 14 third downs against Oklahoma will do that to a team. 

Good news! Nebraska's turnover margin rank improved from 89th to 61st after picking off five Landry Jones passes. The Huskers are now even on the season. Remove the eight turnovers against Iowa State, and we'd be respectable, somewhere around 20th nationally. 

On to the upcoming game....

Given the aforementioned blue print, there are some key statistics that should give Husker fans more confidence heading into the Kansas game. Remember that the Jayhawks are on a four-game losing streak - they may be a team ready to fold on the season. They were originally projected to win the Big 12 North, and stand at 1-4 in conference play. 

Remember that bit about turnover margin? The Jayhawks don't have an anomaly like a game with eight turnovers to explain away their issues in that category. In their last three games, they're -5 in turnovers, and in conference play also -5. They're doing better at home, though, with a +2 margin. 

The other key is sacks allowed. Back in May, I pointed out that offensive line experience counts for quite a bit. That fact has born out, as Kansas had the least amount of experience returning in the Big 12. Kansas could counter by not throwing the ball as much, but they haven't been able to establish much of a running game. 

Put the Jayhawks offensive line against the Blackshirt defensive line, and you have an enormous mismatch. Sacks lead to pressure, which leads to more turnovers. If the Blackshirts play with the same intensity that they did against Oklahoma (and there's no reason to believe they won't), they should feast on the Jayhawk offense. 

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