Ah, the story lines of a body bag game. They're nearly always the same. OMG, anything can happen, remember Appalachian State! Reality is - it was fun when the Mountaineers upset the Wolverines, but now we get to hear about it every time some small school team comes up against a major conference opponent. Another reality - it's the greatest sales tool ever for athletic departments to schedule inferior opponents for home games.
Arkansas State won't be intimidated, they've beaten a BCS school on the road! Reality is they beat a Texas A&M team so poorly coached that that head dude is number four on the hot seat in only his second year.
Oooooh, but what if the Huskers are looking ahead to Virginia Tech? That's trouble, right? Sure it is, but let's turn that around - what if the Red Wolves are looking ahead to Troy, a game that actually matters to them since it might determine their conference winner. Or what about Iowa the following week? The Hawkeyes are a BCS team the Red Wolves are fully capable of beating given the Big 10's level of suck already this year.
Oooooh, but Corey Leonard is a mobile quarterback and the Huskers always have trouble with mobile quarterbacks! Fact is, everyone has trouble with mobile quarterbacks, that's why they're so sought after in college football.
Oooooh, the Red Wolves run the spread and that's dangerous! Gee, the Huskers haven't ever seen a dangerous spread offense as everyone in the Big 12 is still running the triple option. As if.
Let's get some things straight. Arkansas State is being paid a lot of money to come to Memorial Stadium and get their asses kicked. That's why Steve Pederson picked them for an opponent. Despite all the talk about Arkansas State being a quality opponent, they'll play their part well and get destroyed. There aren't a lot of reasons to think otherwise.
After Bo Pelini's comment about ‘being soft', there's not much of a chance the Huskers will be looking past Arkansas State. The competition for playing time didn't end just because Pelini published a depth chart at the beginning of the season. Go out and suck, and you're going to be replaced by someone else - it's not difficult to keep a team motivated with that kind of coaching philosophy.
A big problem for Arkansas State is that their strengths play into Nebraska's strengths. If Arkansas State is going to win the game, they're going to have to run the ball. It's highly doubtful they can run right at the Huskers' defensive line, so like Florida Atlantic, they're going to have to rely on screens, draws, and misdirection to gain some yardage.
The defense recorded zero sacks against Florida Atlantic last weekend, something that won't be forgotten by Jared Crick, Barry Turner, Pierre Allen, and some guy named Ndamukong Suh. That 358 yards given up against Florida Atlantic will only serve as motivation for the Blackshirts to seek and destroy the Red Wolves offense.
Arkansas State does have some good players, just not enough of them. Beyond their starters are many younger players with little game experience. There are some good match ups - for example, it'll be interesting to see how defensive end and NFL prospect Alex Carrington does against the Husker tackles. Carrington was virtually non-existent in the Red Wolves' opener, so maybe he'll be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
The game should be over by halftime, and if not, it won't take much past the beginning of the third quarter. The Husker offense looked rusty (pun!) at the start of last week's game, and will come out with a vengeance this week. Roy Helu won't wait until the third quarter to get going. Look for him to have another big day rushing. Niles Paul wasn't very involved in the offense last week, so he'll be looking to prove himself come Saturday.
Bottom line: The only way Nebraska loses this game is the same way anyone loses a body bag game - taking the opponent for granted, turning the ball over and letting them stay in the game. That ain't happening here.
If you happen to be an Arkansas State fan reading this, you're welcome to stop by our game thread on Saturday and give us your take on the game. Hey, if the Red Wolves are playing well - maybe you can at least say "I told you so".