Keys to Victory: Nebraska

Iowa State continues its run of challenging Big 12 games with Saturday morning's kickoff at nationally-ranked Nebraska. Here are three keys to a Cyclone victory, according to CN senior writer Bill Seals.

Survive first quarter barrage

As has been the case in recent Iowa State trips to Memorial Stadium, Nebraska has used defensive turnovers and big plays to jump on top of the Cyclones early. Take two years ago for example. Seneca Wallace got caught up in the atmosphere and threw two first-quarter interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown, and ISU found itself out of contention almost from the start.

This is the biggest key for the Cyclones winning for the first time in Lincoln since Earle Bruce roamed the sidelines. Austin Flynn must avoid the same early mishaps that cost his predecessor, and he'll have to do it against a Husker defense that loves to blitz and feasts on young quarterbacks making mistakes.

Smack ‘em in the mouth…early

ISU's defense set the tone early in last season's 36-14 victory at Jack Trice Stadium, shutting down the Husker offense on their opening possession. Nebraska opted for three run plays, and all three were snuffed out. That three-and-out proved critical for the Cyclones, who held their opponent to just 81 yards on the ground. While Nebraska's defense has definitely been up to the task this season, the offense still has its spells of ineffectiveness. Jammal Lord is improving his skills as a passer, and did burn the Cyclones on a 90-yard pass play in Ames last season, but he still hasn't kept opposing fronts from ganging up on the run.

Winning turnover margin

One thing is almost certain on Saturday – the Cyclones won't win in Lincoln by coming up on the negative end in turnover margin. Forcing more turnovers than they lose could be difficult for ISU, since the Husker defense leads the nation with 29 takeaways. The Cyclone defense hasn't exactly been stellar in that department, either, but Nebraska's ground attack has the tendency to be careless at times.

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