At first I had myself convinced that Nebraska could come out of Lubbock with a win. This defense was solid enough and the secondary was stout enough to repel any bombardment, even that of the pass-crazy Texas Tech Red Raiders.
That was before the Kansas game though.
Since that time and as I looked more and more at the 82 snaps the NU defense was on the field and the almost 10 minutes they were Kansas' worse in total time of possession, that optimism turned into a grizzly reality.
Nebraska is probably going to lose.
It's easy enough to say that. I mean, heck, the odds-makers have the Huskers the "dog" in this game, the first time Nebraska has been such this year.
Even without the Vegas-experts saying it though, on paper, this team just isn't stacking up.
I won't get into a complete statistical analysis of this as that is possible for anyone to do just be clicking a link here or there.
What I will do is give what I think will be most relevant in this game and I've already mentioned two stats that are going to be huge.
Snaps and how many the Nebraska defense has to stay on the field. If you didn't believe in what strength and conditioning coach, Dave Kennedy was doing, the defensive performance of the Huskers as they faced KU should have told you the tale.
On the field for 82 snaps and again, giving up an almost 10 minute advantage to Tech in the time of possession department.
That's insane if you are a big-time program, but should that particular feat be duplicated against Tech, the insanity will be the difference in the score.
Sonny Cumbie isn't B.J. Symons, but in the Mike Leach system, Symons is replaceable and these 50+ a game passing quarterbacks are interchangeable as well. Cumbie isn't great, but he's good enough to give Nebraska fits all day.
Evan against Oklahoma, Cumbie and company managed almost 370 yards in the air. What OU did, however, was give Cumbie the yards, but Tech didn't get into end zone for a touchdown a single time.
Nebraska managed that as well with Kansas and it's not to say that they can't do it here, but let's look at the other statistic that in my estimation will determine the outcome of the game.
Yes, I know. Just the word itself is enough to make Husker fans cringe, citing their starting QB, Joe Dailey as being one of the most prolific in the country at taking the ball and giving it to the other team. Out of 117 Division 1-A teams, Nebraska ranks in turnover margin, 105th.
Oklahoma in their narrower than assume score, still managed to dominate Tech in certain aspects, but mot definitely in that particular category, Texas Tech turning the ball over 4 times while OU handed it back to them a total of exactly zero times.
That's huge and it's something that Nebraska hasn't managed to do all season, go an entire game without giving the ball back during the course of particular drives.
And, if they do that against Tech, the fat lady will be warming up for her dramatic solo.
In order to NOT turn the ball over, there's a couple of other keys that will have to take place in the game. One, that Joe Dailey is given a huge comfort zone, lots of short passes, slants, screens and real high percentage throws early in the game so that the Sophomore QB can get into some kind of rhythm.
And two, that the running game works and works well. Dailey's biggest asset will be when he's not demanded to be any better than efficient. If Dailey is needed to win the game, he'll no doubt push as he has repetitively all year and that's when things go awry.
Nebraska's rushing attack as it has been traditionally will be the end-all-be-all to NU's success today. If they can run effectively, put up at least a few double-digit drives, the Huskers will go a long ways in helping their own defense rest and keeping the potent Texas Tech offense right where they want them, on the bench.
That's what it comes down to in the end. You can go over the bazillion potential receivers that Tech has and you can laud the Nebraska defense all day, but if both are on the field more than they are off of it, Nebraska loses and depending on the disparity in time of possession, that will determine how badly.
It's not to say that Nebraska has to win the time of possession, but it's important what they do in that time and turning the ball over simply can't be one of those things that occur.
Nebraska's the underdog here, as well they should be. Point of fact, I think Tech pulls this one out. Nebraska has a great chance to win, however, but it depends on them beating Texas Tech and not themselves.
If they can avoid the monumental mental mistakes that have plagued them all year, Nebraska could pull it out.
As they haven't all year, I can't rationalize how they will in this game, so the conclusion is:
Texas Tech 28