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More Kansas Preview And Prediction

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Kansas Preview from Phog Blog Phog Blog has a decent preview of the Nebraska/Kanas game, but I have some definite problems with it.

Nebraska has yet to play a game they should win but could lose. That they refused to challenge their one worthy opponent further complicates attempts to gauge their true ability.

I've seen comments like this all over the 'net, including quite a few from Nebraskans. When I watched the game, I too was frustrated with Callahan's conservatism. In hindsight, it wasn't Callahan's game plan or conservatism that cost us the game - we didn't play well enough to win. Take away Lucky's fumble in the third quarter that lead to a USC score, and we intercept one of the two interceptions we should have had inside the USC 20. Marlon Lucky's long run down to the 25 doesn't get called back due to holding, and this game is close enough for us to win in the fourth quarter. I fail to understand how people can't see that, but I guess it's easier to complain.

The one good thing that Nebraska took away from the USC game is that we weren't ready to play that at that level, which means this Nebraska team has a lot more to prove. They will carry this into the Big 12 season.

The difference between USC's 18 point win over Nebraska and their (USC's) 36 point win at Arkansas came down to more than Nebraska's ability to refrain from turning the ball over at every opportunity. Nebraska, looking for all the world like a team whose coach wanted nothing more than not to lose too badly, severely limited the number of plays either team ran.

Given we weren't able to cover USC's receivers, how does limiting USC's offense sound like a bad thing? Ironic that Nebraskans who have complained endlessly about lack of passing in big games now complained about not having enough. Even further irony in that non-Nebraskans are complaining about the same.

The Kansas players will benefit from playing for a head coach presumably willing to let them try and win a difficult road game and a defensive coordinator whose game plan thoroughly shut down the Nebraska offense a year ago.

Is there anyone who has watched Nebraska play football this year that doubts this year's offense isn't at the same level we were last year?

On To The Game

I like Mangino at Kansas. I have no doubt that Mangino will bring his kids ready to play - ready to prove something. Kansas's offensive line and running game is their strength. They will try to establish the run early against us, and see if they can connect on some play-action passes. It's a pretty good bet that Kansas will want to limit our offensive plays.

We do not yet know who will start for Kansas at quarterback, the redshirt freshman Kerry Meier, who threw four interceptions on the road at Toledo (seven total on the season), or the senior Adam Bermann, who didn't turn the ball over at home against South Florida, a game which Kansas won. You'd think the choice would be obvious, but Mangino has left everyone to speculate.

Bill's Game Plan

I have no doubt that Bill Callahan will want to establish the run. Given that we have four backs capable of running in this offense, and the smaller size of Kansas's front four, why not?

Nebraska's pass protection has been most excellent this year, giving up only four sacks through four games, including only one against the speedy USC defense. Comparatively, last year, defenses sacked Taylor 38 times. I'd look for either Maurice Purify or Matt Herian to have a break-out game.

For Nebraska, starting center Kurt Mann is still out, so again we'll miss his experience. It looks like linebackers Steve Octavien and Clayton Sievers may miss this game in order to heal.

Prediction

Kansas will stay in this game for maybe a half and then we'll get going.

Nebraska 40, Kansas 13

p.s. All this talk about Kansas and I haven't once mentioned the largeness of Mark Mangino. Unfortunately, that will leave my blog out of the running when Internet users search for "Mark Mangino" and then attach an appropriate adjective, such as huge, enormous, humongous, blimp-sized, gargantuan, massive, colossal, titanic, monumental, elephantine, jumbo, or even ginormous.

Takes care of that, doesn't it?