Normally I would be writing an article regarding the "Keys to the Game", or what are the most important factors about picking up a win against an opponent.
That should not be taken as an insult to Western Kentucky.
The Hilltoppers come into this game with the nation's longest losing streak in FBS. They have a new coaching staff and are trying to change offensive philosophies. Hell, at this point, Western Kentucky is trying to get their program back on track after having found success at Division IAA.
Given all that, instead of focusing on what we need to do to win the game, let's set the bar a little higher. Let's take a look at what is expected of a top ten team when they face inferior competition on opening day.
Pick Up A Shut Out
Husker fans were damned proud of our defense last season. Going into this season, we've largely gone with the Bo Pelini line that the defense will be better, which is an incredible statement after losing the mutant man Ndamukong Suh. Rather than talking about it - it's time to prove it.
If the 2010 defense is going to repeat as the nation's top scoring defense, then it starts here. It's simple. Don't allow the Hilltoppers to score.
The Blackshirts finished 2009 seventh in total defense at 271.3 yards per game. If we want to achieve that level again, then hold Western Kentucky to something like 200 total yards.
Crisp And Clean
The Huskers had nine penalties in their first game against Florida Atlantic last season. They finished 102nd nationally in 2009, giving up 63.9 yards per game, 7.1 penalties per game and being rewarded with 100 penalties. If this team expects to have a great season instead of a good or above average season, this would be one area in which they could vastly improve.
How about no more than four penalties against the Hilltoppers. Keeping that pace would most likely place the Huskers in the top 20 in that category.
Crisp and clean should also refer to execution, and taking care of the ball. Games were lost last year because of missed assignments (Virginia Tech), turnovers (Iowa State...arrggghhh) and an inability to properly execute the offense (too many to mention).
Husker fans have spent the off-season listening to glowing reports of how the team is doing, that there is more depth, and more experience. The time for talking has passed, now is the time for doing. I want to see 300 yards passing, 300 yards rushing with two backs over 100 yards (Roy Helu, Rex Burkhead, Austin Jones, I don't really care who gets them), and no field goal attempts by Alex Henery. Is that asking too much, or is that too easy?
I don't really need to explain this one, do I?
I've mentioned what I expect to see on Saturday. What about you? What do you want to see out of this highly ranked team? What will make you feel better about the upcoming season, and what will make you feel worse?