Monday, November 16, 2009

NU Re-View: Nebraska 31, Kansas 17

Sorry for not getting the Re-Views done for Baylor and Oklahoma, reality called.

- THEIR TURN: Ever since the open of conference play, Nebraska has been leaning on the defense to win games. This time, with Nebraska down 17-16 in the fourth quarter, it was up to the offense to salvage a win. They did so with gusto, imposing their will through a powerful running attack (and a little help from costly KU penalties).
- GAME PLANNING: Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has been the target of 'Husker fan angst for the last month, and rightfully so. Against Kansas, Watson scaled back the shotgun read option and focused on the downhill run and the long pass, both playing to the strengths of their talent.
- RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH: For the first time, quarterback Zac Lee tucked the ball in and ran with authority. Good heavens, he even broke a tackle as the second-leading rusher on the team. If Lee can bring that element to every game, NU's offense got a lot more dangerous.

- RUNNING ON FUMES: The Blackshirts were on the field for 87 plays against Oklahoma and for another 70 against Kansas. There's no question that fatigue played a factor in the front four being less able to generate a pass rush and disrupt the Jayhawk offense.
- THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR: While Nebraska has had great success in the last few weeks, it should be remembered that they were facing rookie quarterbacks. Against Kansas, they got the best shot of an experienced, savvy, and dangerous veteran QB in Todd Reesing. I, for one, am very pleased he's out of eligibility.
- RED ZONE ISSUES: Nebraska still is struggling with success in the red zone. With a chance to put a second touchdown on the board in the first half, a back-side tripping penalty pushed NU back and forced a field goal. We've already seen how that's cost NU games (see Tech, Virginia) and we're still seeing in.

Well, maybe not completely. But with the offense coming through with a win in a building that had been a house of horrors for NU, it's hard not to see them playing with confidence and an attitude from here forward. They've also proved they can survive success, something they struggled with after their win against Missouri.

This actually seems like it's been about three seasons for Nebraska. Season one was the team that had a near miss in Blacksburg and beat Mizzou in the rain. Season two was the team that lost to Iowa State at home and looked like they could lose out. Season three is post-Oklahoma and a team that's returned to front-runner status in the North. It shouldn't be lost, though, that two years ago Nebraska fell to Kansas 76-39 and looked like they would be lost in the wilderness for a decade. It's a credit to Bo Pelini and his staff that, even with some of the bizarre turns of this season, Nebraska sits poised to claim a division title.

THE NEXT GAME: Kansas State at Nebraska (-15 1/2). The Big XII North title game is Nebraska versus Kansas ... State? Not quite how the script was supposed to work, but here we are. Kansas State is almost the polar opposite of Kansas offensively. They have Daniel Thomas, a bruising power running back, and they're not afraid to hit you in the mouth with him. Under the return of Bill Snyder, the Purples will try to play mistake free football and wait for their opportunity to win. But a power game against Ndomukong Suh and Nebraska's front four doesn't exactly match up well. The Purple's savior has done a magnificent job (although Iowa State's Paul Rhodes should be the Big XII coach of the year), but the ride ends this Saturday in Lincoln. Lay the points, and book your flight for Dallas.
Fearless forecast - Nebraska 38, Kansas State 10

The photos (from Oklahoma and Kansas)

GBR, baby.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you hit the nail on the head so to speak. Our defence was tired, but they have to step it up for this game.