The environment will be unforgettable. Will it be an environment that Nebraska has never had to deal with before though? No. The Huskers have been to loud environments before, like the one in Seattle, where things actually get so crazy and loud that the T.V. cameras shake and cause motion sickness to those watching at home.
Sound aside, this game isn't about who has the better fans, the better game day atmosphere, etc. It's a game that before the season started Nebraska fans feared. It's a game that as the season started and went on the Husker fans chalked up a little bit. Now, it's changed again to a game that Husker fans are apprehensive about. Here's what I will be watching:
1. Dealing with the noise - Many thought that the Washington game was going to be a long one. Seattle is just a tough place to play and it was Nebraska's first road game of the season and it was Taylor Martinez's first start on the road of his career. As Husker fans remember that game went OK. The Huskers barely had an issue with the sound at Husky Stadium at all and being at home you could literally see, that's right I said see, how loud it was there. Nebraska should be prepared for this.
2. Continue to have success on the road - Nebraska has done very well on the road this season offensively and defensively. I mean, ESPN released a stat yesterday that pretty much blew me away. Martinez has a passer efficiency rating of 204 on the road. That is compared to 119 at home. On the road Martinez has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions while he has just two touchdowns and four interceptions at home. It's strange, but this team has done better on the road. Their "us against the world" mentality has carried them on the road.
3. Can Nebraska throw the ball? - A&M is 102nd in the nation against the pass while Nebraska is just 108th in the nation throwing the ball in passing offense. The Huskers don't have to go out and throw for 400 yards against A&M, but it would be nice. The Huskers just have to be efficient in throwing the football to set up the run game. And that's where things are going to be difficult. A&M's rush defense and Nebraska's rush offense are two of the best in the nation. I will tackle that next.
Three match ups:
1. Nebraska's rush offense vs. Texas A&M's rush defense - This is the marquee matchup of the day. Nebraska brings with them the #7 rated rushing offense in the nation averaging 282 yards per game. A&M though will bring the 13th rated rush defense in the nation that is only allowing 112 yards per contest. The Huskers will have to be creative and not get caught up in trying to exploit one area of A&M's rush defense to be successful. To be successful the Huskers will have to show different things and wear A&M out up front.
2. A&M's receivers vs. Nebraska's secondary - I have always been a fan of Jeff Fuller's. The year that he was a senior I thought he was the best receiver in the state (yes that means better that Dan Buckner) and it looks like my choice was right. But, you can't just focus on Fuller. There is Uzoma Nwachuku and players like Ryan Swope and Terrence McCoy to keep tabs on. At least the Huskers are healthy in the secondary after Alfonzo Dennard returned last week in a big way against Kansas after a concussion the week before. Nebraska will man it up and will be running 5 and 6 defensive backs pretty much all day.
3. Nebraska DL vs. Texas A&M OL- This is a game that I will be focusing my attention on the battle in the trenches, particularly between Nebraska's defensive line and Texas A&M's offensive line. Nebraska might have played their best game up-front last weekend against Kansas and will have to bring the pressure against the Aggies. I know that their offensive line is good, but have you looked at how young they are? There are two true freshmen starting at tackle in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. The guards are both sophomores, Brian Thomas and Patrick Lewis, with a senior center. The starting tight end is also a freshman, Hutson Prioleau.
I was in College Station four years ago when Nebraska had to block a field goal attempt to get a chance to win the game. That drive was filled with big over throws, drops, penalties and probably the most memorable catch of Maurice Purify's career at Nebraska. The crowd went from rowdy loud to stunned silent in half a second.
This year could be a very similar situation with this game coming down to the wire. I find it a little striking that where A&M is strong defensively and offensively that Nebraska has the strength on the other side of the ball to counter it. This should be an excellent game, but it's one that the Huskers should still come away from with a win.
The environment won't be shocking for Nebraska and A&M can't put more receivers on the field than Nebraska has seen before. Fuller isn't Justin Blackmon, but who is? A&M will bring a better supporting cast of receivers overall than Oklahoma State had. And while Ryan Tannehill has really come in to spark the A&M offense he's not Brandon Weeden. Like I said, the Huskers have been in these situations before. This will not be atypical. So give me the Huskers to win, 27-17.