A pair of four-game winning streaks are on the line Saturday night when the Huskers meet the Aggies in College Station. A Nebraska victory will give the Huskers the Big 12 North title, but they'll have to play well to earn it - and when I say that, I specifically mean "quit dropping the damned ball".
Back in August the Corn Nation community voted Texas A&M as this season's "Most Dangerous Game". As Husker Mike pointed out, the Aggies have really turned things around in the middle of the season, and Saturday night's game should be one of those four-quarter nerve-stretchers that have you drinking a lot more beer than is good for you.
So how is Nebraska going to win this game? Well, I'll tell ya.....
You Don't Attack Where They're Strong
Nebraska runs the ball well - ranking first in the Big 12 and seventh nationally. Texas A&M defends the run well, ranking first in the Big 12 in run defense and 13th nationally.
Texas A&M throws the ball well, ranking third in the Big 12 (behind the Oklahoma schools) and eighth nationally. Nebraska's pass defense is first in the Big 12 and second nationally in yards allowed and is tops in the nation in pass efficiency defense.
It doesn't make sense to attack your opponent where they're the strongest, so expect the Aggies to get after the Huskers on the ground. Cyrus Gray has four straight 100-yard rushing games - the Blackshirts need to stop that streak.
On offense, Nebraska won't be able to rely on a heavy running attack - they will have to open up the passing game. Taylor Martinez doesn't have to perform as well as he did through the air against Oklahoma State, but connecting on some long passes will set things up nicely for the run game.
Which leads us to.....
Niles The Hero
The ground game always works better when there's someone out there to stretch the field. Whether he makes you crazy or not, that guy is Niles Paul. Paul has won games with his playmaking abilities and that's the guy we want to see.
Husker fans need Niles the Hero to show up this week, not Niles the Goat.
Show ‘Em If You Got 'Em
Does anyone believe that Shawn Watson has plays he hasn't shown yet? Don't you think those would have come out against Iowa State, given how close that game turned out?
I hear this all the time - that the coaching staff is holding back, that something special is still out there, waiting to be unleashed. If it is, this weekend would be a good time for an unleashing. Watson won't be able to be conservative against Aggie Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter.
Maybe there's a pass play from the wildcat formation waiting out there. If so, it's time to show ‘em if you got 'em.
Maybe this is a gimme, but I'm going with it anyway. Nebraska has scored on their opening possession in eight of the last 12 games (including last season) and has outscored their opponents 83-30 in the first quarter this season.
I don't have to tell you which was the only game this season that Nebraska wasn't ahead or tied at the end of the first quarter. No one wants a repeat of that game.