Keys to Victory - Kansas State 2006
This is a huge game for Nebraska. It's a Big 12 North foe - losing a game here means that Missouri might afford a loss and still win the Big 12 North, and that's our stated goal for the season. If we win it's our 800th victory, and we join Notre Dame, Michigan, and Texas among the only schools that have 800 or more victories.
The line has Nebraska as a 10.5 point favorite. I'm not that comfortable about this game. Kansas State is 4-2, and is quietly puttting together a decent season. We need to win, so how are we going to do it?
Kansas State has been a nightmare for Husker quarterbacks over the past few years. The last touchdown pass thrown at Kansas State was in 1998. While Nebraska doesn't have to toss for a TD to win the game, we do need to be flawless - zero turnovers. What we don't want to see is Zac Taylor completing less than 50% of his passes, and even worse than that, completions to the Wildcats.
Iowa State should have scored on a Zac Taylor fumble deep in our territory last week. Turnovers allowed Kansas to get back into the game. These are the mistakes that must be eliminated against the Wildcats. They have shown that they are opportunists.
Josh Freeman was recruited by Callahan because of his mobility. Last week the Blackshirts did a good job of containing Brett Meyer. We sacked him once and held him to 26 net yards rushing. Rather than worrying about sack counts, we need to contain Freeman. Put him in a position where he tries to make things happen, makes bad decisions, and ultimately loses the game for the Wildcats by giving us a short field to work with.
Special teams coverage needs to contain the Wildcat kicker returners. As I stated earlier this week, KSU has excellent special teams play, especially on kickoff returns. We need to shut them down here, make them drive the length of the field and earn every score. They're going to be looking for big plays here - if they're down - we need to make sure that a quickie TD on a kickoff return doesn't let them get back in the game.
Possess The Ball
Until last week, Kansas State hadn't done much on offense. Their time of possession is one of the worst in the nation, while the Huskers have one of the best. Callahan has shown he likes running the ball on the road, which will be tough against KSU's defense. If we can establish the run, like we did at Iowa State, we can maintain that edge.
Past Husker teams counted on pounding the opponent into submission by the fourth quarter. This Husker team needs to pound the opponent long enough to put the ball into the air around Maurice Purify, Terrence Nunn, or one of our tight ends to pick up those big plays.
The win over KSU last year is where this Husker team began to pull it together. A win this week gives us momentum going into the Texas game. A loss will bring doubt among the naysayers, who wants that?
Nebraska 31, Kansas State 21