#16/17 NEBRASKA (6 - 1)
#5 TEXAS (6 - 1)
Player BreakdownsTexas Offense
The Texas Longhorns enter this week's game with Nebraska after a 63-31 win over Baylor. The Longhorns are averaging 393.71 yards in total offense, placing them 27th in the nation. Texas currently ranks 57th in passing (206.29 ypg), 5th in passing efficiency (174.29 rating), 20th rushing (187.43 ypg), 2nd scoring offense (42.71 ppg), and 2nd in turnover margin (+ 1.43). This is an offense loaded with firepower and has, outside of the Ohio State game, been very successful. Last week, Baylor was able to slow down the Longhorn rushing attack, but had no answer for QB Colt McCoy and receivers Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman.
QB: RFr. Colt McCoy (101 of 147, 1229 yds, 18 TDs, 3 INTs) has done an admirable job this season, replacing Vince Young. McCoy is improving as the season moves along, and is one of the better QBs in the conference right now. Colt had his best game of the season last week, throwing for a school record 6 touchdown passes against Baylor. He has a stockpile of talent at the skill positions at his disposal, and has done more than most would expect from a redshirt freshman. Backing up McCoy is TFr. Jevon Snead (13 of 18, 181 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT). Snead hasn't played much this season, but has looked sharp in his limited attempts, especially against Sam Houston State. Both QBs have made use of their legs to pick up yards as McCoy has rushed for 96 yards and one score, while Snead has gained 89 yards on the ground with one score.
RB: Together, Sr. Selvin Young (62 carries, 353 yds, 4 TDs) and So. Jamaal Charles (81 carries, 463 yds, 3 TDs) are a dynamic one-two punch for the Longhorn offense. Both have the ability to run through and by you. Their combo of speed and power has been tough for opposing defenses to shut down this season, has both average 5.7 yards per carry. Both are also key receivers, as Young has 93 yards and one touchdown on 14 catches, while Charles has 89 yards on 11 snags. So. Henry Melton (39 carries, 177 yds, 6 TDs) sits third on the depth chart and sees limited action as a situational back during short yardage situations. At 270 pounds, he is a challenge to bring down. Starting at FB is So. Chris Ogbonnaya (14 carries, 48 yds), a strong runner that will see few, if any touches.
WR/TE: This is arguably the deepest crew of receivers in the conference. Jr.'s Limas Sweed (27 catches, 476 yds, 8 TDs) and Billy Pittman (13 catches, 196 yds, 3 TDs) lead a talented group of wide receivers for the Longhorns. Sweed's 6'5" frame, teamed with his athleticism make him the toughest receiver to defend in the Big XII conference. Pittman is also an excellent receiver with great hands. So. Quan Cosby (14 catches, 153 yds), Jr. Nate Jones (9 catches, 99 yds, 1 TD), and So. Jordan Shipley (6 catches, 128 yds, 3 TDs) are also major contributors to Texas' aerial attack. All three are threats to score and rarely drop passes. At TE is Sr. Neale Tweedie (4 catches, 30 yds) and RFr. Jermichael Finley (8 catches, 112 yds, 2 TDs) share duties. TE is the position where the biggest offensive drop-off has occurred, as the Longhorns miss David Thomas. Neither Tweedie nor Finley has been able to have a break out day this year.
OL: Another unit that is among the top of the Big XII, the Texas offensive line is stout again this year. The Longhorn line is paving way for 4.9 yards per rush while allowing just 6 sacks through 7 games. Starting for the line at tackle is Jr. Tony Hills (6'6", 295 lbs) at left, and RFr. Adam Ulatoski (6'8", 290 lbs) on the right. At guard is Sr. Kasey Studdard (6'3", 305 lbs) on the left side, while Sr. Justin Blalock (6'4", 329 lbs) resides on the right. Finally, starting at center is Sr. Lyle Sendlein (6'5", 305 lbs). Hills is questionable for Saturday's game.
Coming into week eight, the Longhorn defense ranks 11th nationally in total defense (258 ypg), 77th pass defense (210.29 ypg), 54th pass efficiency defense (120.64 rating), 2nd rush defense (47.71 ypg), and 15th in scoring defense (13.71 ppg). There have been holes in the secondary, but getting Tarell Brown and Marcus Griffin back will be a big help. Finding running room against Texas has been more than difficult this season, as opponents average just 1.9 yards per rush.
DL: Lining up on the line for the Horns in their 4-3 defense are Sr.'s Tim Crowder (35 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR, 11 QBH, 1 PBU) and Brian Robison (19 tackles, 3 sacks, 10 QBH, 3 PBU, 1 Blkd kick) at defensive end, while Jr.'s Frank Okam (15 tackles, 0.5 sack, 4 QBH) and Derek Lokey (20 tackles, 0.5 sack, 1 FR, 9 QBH) start at the tackle positions. This is a dominant starting front that has forced most opposing rushing attacks into submission, as well as putting an excellent rush on opposing quarterbacks. The future looks to be in good hands also, as top backups include So.'s Brian Orakpo (14 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 QBH, 1 PBU) and Aaron Lewis (12 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF, 2 FR, 4 QBH, 1 PBU) at DE, with So. Roy Miller (11 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QBH) at DT.
LB: Texas' linebacking corps is strong with the starting lineup including So. Rashad Bobino (36 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FR, 4 QBH, 2 PBU) at MLB, Jr. Robert Killebrew (20 tackles, 2 FR, 2 QBH, 1 PBU) on the strongside, and Jr. Scott Derry (31 tackles, 1 sack) at the weakside. Killebrew returned a fumble for touchdown last week against Baylor in the 4th quarter. Texas' top LB back-ups are also solid with Jr. WLB Drew Kelson (11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QBH), TFr. MLB Jared Norton (12 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR), and TFr. SLB Sergio Kindle (16 tackles). Although just true freshmen, Kindle and Norton have looked excellent so far in 2006.
DB: Starting corners this week will be Seniors Tarell Brown (30 tackles, 1 FF, 4 PBU) at RCB and Aaron Ross (47 tackles, 1 sack, 4 INTs, 2 FF, 1 FR, 11 PBU) at LCB. The Longhorns will welcome back Brown after returning from an injury. Back-ups at corner include So. Ryan Palmer (12 tackles, 2 PBU) and TFr. Deon Beasley (5 tackles, 1 PBU). At safety, twin brothers, Sr. SS Michael Griffin (62 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FF, 2 FR, 4 PBU, 1 Blkd kick) and Jr. FS Marcus Griffin (36 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 PBU) start. Marcus Griffin, like Tarell Brown will be enjoying his first game back since injury. Both should make the defensive backfield much stronger than it has looked recently. Sr. FS Matt Melton (7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR) and TFr. SS Robert Joseph (14 tackles, 1 QBH, 1 PBU) are the Longhorns' top safety back-ups.
Texas Special Teams
The Longhorn's special team units have been excellent this season. Texas currently ranks 7th in net punting (40.38 yd avg), 9th in punt returns (16.44 yd avg), and 34th in kickoff returns (22.08 yd avg).
K: Sr. Greg Johnson has hit 1 of 2 field goals on the season, with a long of 46 yards. On kickoffs, he is averaging 61.4 yards, with 10 of his 34 kickoffs downed for a touchback. Fr. Hunter Lawrence has shared kickoff duties, and has pushed 5 of his 10 kickoffs for touchbacks, with an average of 62.5 yards.
P: Sr. Greg Johnson also acts as the Longhorns punter. He has done a great job this season, punting 24 times for an average of 41 yards. 13 of his 24 punts have been downed inside of the opponents' 20.
KR/PR: Handing kickoff returns has primarily been Sr. Selvin Young (6 returns, 26.3 yd avg) and So. Quan Cosby (4 returns, 17.8 yd avg). On punt returns, Sr. Aaron Ross (12 returns, 13.2yd avg, 1 TD) and So. Quan Cosby (2 returns, 64 yd avg, 1 TD) have been exciting to watch.
Coverage: The Texas kick coverage team is allowing 19.1 yards per return on 32 kickoffs. Opponents are averaging just 1.8 yards per punt return on 13 returns.
Nebraska enters Saturday's game with Texas following a solid 21-3 victory over Kansas State, the first win in Manhattan since 1996. Nebraska's 448.43 yards per game puts them 8th in the nation in total offense. The Cornhuskers also rank 28th in passing (240.71 ypg), 6th in pass efficiency (173.39 rating), 11th in rushing (207.71 ypg), 9th in scoring offense (37 ppg), and 11th in turnover margin (+ 1.00). Nebraska's run game has carried this team to back to back road wins against Iowa State and Kansas State.
QB: Sr. Zac Taylor (107 of 164, 1547 yds, 14 TDs, 2 INT) hasn't had to win games with his arm this year, outside of the Kansas game. He has made plays when needed though, assisting a power rushing attack that is tough to stop. Zac has fumbled inside the Nebraska 15 in each of the past two games. He needs to be more aware of the pocket closing and either get rid of the ball or take the sack. Having his arm in the open for a defender to swat at doesn't help the team get from A to B. He has been lucky, as neither Iowa State, nor Kansas State put points on the board from those turnovers. At times, Taylor has tried too hard to make a play for the team, and has forced passes into double coverage. However, he should still be considered one of the best QBs in the conference, as his passer rating of 170.21 would indicate. He is certainly the best at clock management. So. back-up Joe Ganz (6 for 12, 93 yds, 2 TDs) has looked decent in his three attempts at mop-up duties, but hasn't seen action since the Troy game.
RB: Nebraska's top four running backs get shuffled so much, a clear cut starter has yet to emerge. Jr. Brandon Jackson (65 carries, 362 yds, 3 TDs) has sky rocketed to the top of the depth chart. So.'s Marlon Lucky (76 carries, 476 yds, 6 TDs) and Cody Glenn (60 carries, 338 yds, 6 TDs) formerly co-number ones, now appear to be co-number two's, while Jr. Kenny Wilson (66 carries, 311 yds, 3 TDs) has looked impressive in his carries. Jackson has been showing his cut back abilities over the past few games and has looked the part of the top guy. Lucky is the team's top home run threat, while Glenn is the top power back. Wilson hasn't carried in a couple of games, but has shown an ability to be explosive and he really finished his runs. This crew is difficult to stop, as coach Bill Callahan will bring a different rotation to each game. Marlon Lucky has shown off his great hands this season, catching 12 passes for 117 yards while Brandon Jackson has caught 10 passes for 75 yards. Sr. FB Dane Todd (2 catches, 9 yards, 1 TD) rarely touches the ball, but is a solid lead blocker.
WR/TE: Nebraska's receiving corps is loaded with talent and should be considered one of the better crews in the conference top to bottom. Jr. Terrence Nunn (20 catches, 336 yds, 1 TD) and So. Nate Swift (11 catches, 183 yds) lead the group, however, Swift has not been a big part of the game plans over the past number of weeks. Jr. Maurice Purify (15 catches, 333 yards, 2 TDs) is the team's biggest target and has seen his role increase as the season has moved along. He seems to catch everything thrown to him. Jr. Frantz Hardy (9 catches, 221 yds, 3 TDs) is arguably the fastest of the wide outs, and is a major threat in the open field. So. Todd Peterson (7 catches, 120 yds, 1 TD) is another tall receiver that does not drop balls. At TE, Sr. Matt Herian (10 catches, 141 yds, 2 TDs) has played fairly well after missing a year and a half due to a broken leg. He doesn't appear to be back to pre-injury form, but it is unclear if he ever will be. Jr. J.B. Phillips (10 catches, 63 yds, 2 TDs) is a solid second option at tight end.
OL: Nebraska's running backs are averaging 5.57 yards per carry, a big turnaround from last season's 3.6 yards per carry. The Husker's offensive line play is much improved over last season's line, although still tends to get beat by quick, athletic defensive linemen. Through seven games, the line has allowed 11 sacks, 4 of which took place last week against Kansas State. Starting at the tackle positions are Jr. Chris Patrick (6'4", 290 lbs) at LT, and So. Matt Slauson (6'5", 335 lbs) at RT. So. Lydon Murtha (6'7", 315 lbs) and Jr. Carl Nicks (6'5", 325 lbs) also will also shuffle in and see a number of snaps. Sr. Greg Austin (6'1", 295 lbs) starts at LG, while So. Mike Huff (6'4", 305 lbs) is at RG. So. Andy Christensen (6'3", 300 lbs) started last Saturday in Austin's place due to injury. Starting center, Sr. Kurt Mann (6'4", 290 lbs), who struggled with a viral infection for over a month, appears to be close to 100% now. Jr. Brett Byford (6'3", 300 lbs), will remain the starter in his place, however.
As the Blackshirt defense enters week eight, they rank 51st nationally in total defense (316.29 ypg), 86th pass defense (218 ypg), 26th pass efficiency defense (108.62 rating), 21st rush defense (98.29 ypg), and 13th in scoring defense (13.43 ppg). This is a far cry from their pre season talk of being a top 10 defense nationally. A big challenge awaits them Saturday, and all eyes will be on the defensive backs once again.
DL: Nebraska's defensive line is led by Sr. Adam Carriker (22 tackles, 1 sack, 7 QBH, 2 PBU) at base end, and Jay Moore (20 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 PBU) as the open end. Carriker hasn't performed near his outstanding 2005 campaign, and at near 300lbs, may be better suited to play tackle. So. Barry Turner (11 tackles, 1 FR, 4 QBH, 1 PBU) is a speedy DE that will shuffle in on a number of snaps. Sr.'s Ola Dagunduro (10 tackles, 2 sacks) and Barry Cryer (19 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 PBU) start at nose tackle and defensive tackle, respectively for the Huskers. Cryer has a nice game last week and will look to continue his success. Back-up sophomore tackles Ndamukong Suh (14 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF) and Ty Steinkuhler (13 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF) are seeing more action in the rotation and have looked impressive, especially Suh. Ndamukong also had a big outing against the Wildcats last week. Nebraska's opponents currently average 3.3 yards per carry, which as shot downward two weeks in a row as they have stuffed opponents' rushing attacks. This is one of the better starting front fours in the country, talent wise, but have not equaled the output of a year ago.
LB: Originally thought to be one of the best linebacking corps in the conference, the jury is still out on the 2006 crew. Speed may be a big issue here, as Nebraska's linebackers just don't appear to have the sideline to sideline speed to dominate. Starting at MLB is Jr. Corey McKeon (37 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 QBH, 2 PBU). Jr. Lance Brandenburgh (16 tackles, 0.5 sack) filled in for McKeon last week due to injury, and played very well. Jr. Bo Ruud (36 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 1 PBU) starts at WLB, with Jr. Steve Octavien (9 tackles) backing him up. Octavien has been hampered with a hamstring injury for the past few weeks, but should finally start playing a role again this week. He has struggled to get back to form after missing 2005 with a knee injury, however, re-earned his blackshirt this week. Sr. Stew Bradley (44 tackles, 1 FF, 2 FRs, 1 PBU, 2 QBH) starts at SLB, and does not have a healthy back-up. When McKeon is 100%, Brandenburgh has also served as Bradley's back-up.
DB: Jr. Cortney Grixby (24 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR, 5 PBU) is seven games through his third year as starter at WCB, while Jr. Andre Jones (33 tackles, 1 INT, 4 PBU) is starting at SCB. Jones, a JUCO transfer, has done a nice job thus far at 1-A. Grixby has and will be picked on because of his 5'9" frame. This has worked for opponents that are able to match a tall receiver against him. Still, both tend to give up chunks of yards, due to the pillow soft zones, often giving a 5-8 yard cushion to the opposing receiver. Jr. Tierre Green (36 tackles, 1 FR) starts at SS and Sr. Andrew Shanle (22 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 PBU, 3 QBH) is the starter at FS. True freshmen Rickey Thenarse (3 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU), Major Culbert (3 tackles), and Corey Young (9 tackles) are starting to get more playing time and looking more comfortable. Thenarse got his first interception last week, making a nice read on the ball. Depth is a huge concern as injuries have left the defensive backfield bare, limiting the types of coverages Nebraska can play. Thenarse's development seems to be opening up more options, however.
Nebraska Special Teams
Nebraska's special teams play has been mostly solid through seven games, however, haven't been as prolific as they were last season. The Huskers rank 42nd in net punting (36.44 yd avg), 50th in punt returns (9.13 yd avg), and 102nd in kickoff returns (17.44 yd avg).
K: So. Jordan Congdon is 2 for 3 on field goals, with a long of 38. On kickoffs, he averages just 57.1 yards on 39 attempts (4 touchbacks). His distance is improving, but not by great numbers. He has an accurate leg, but power is the concern.
P: So. Dan Titchener has played well through seven games. He is averaging 39.2 yards on 32 punts with a long of 53, having 12 punts downed inside the opponents' 20. He has a great leg, but has been inconsistent. He tends to shank one punt per game.
KR/PR: Jr. Tierre Green has returned three kickoffs for an average of 19.7 yards, while Jr. Brandon Jackson has an 18.7 yard average on his three returns, and Jr. Kenny Wilson has returned two punts, averaging 21 yards. Jr. Terrence Nunn is averaging 8.5 yards on 18 punt returns. So. Nate Swift has returned 2 punts for an average of 24.5 yards. Nunn has difficulty fielding punts, as nearly every return last week was bobbled or fumbled.
Coverage: Nebraska's coverage teams have been solid this season. The Huskers kick coverage unit is allowing 15.5 yards on 38 kickoff returns, while the punt return coverage team is allowing a 6.7 yard average on 7 punt returns.
Nebraska's Offense vs. Texas' Defense
Nebraska will face its toughest rush defense challenge since the USC game. Nebraska averages near 5.6 yards per carry while Texas gives up just 1.9 yards per carry. Something has to give, and Nebraska's offensive line hasn't shown enough dominance to believe that the running backs can get four to five yards a carry. Still, a running game must be established to have a chance to win this game. RB Brandon Jackson has been getting most of the work over the past two games and might be settling in to the starting role, however, it is a weekly battle with Nebraska's other three talented backs; Marlon Lucky, Cody Glenn, and Kenny Wilson.
Up front, Nebraska's offensive line will need to play their best game of the season, as Texas' Tim Crowder and Brian Robison could have a big day if the tackles aren't in top form. Nebraska's line gave up 4 sacks last week to Kansas State, and while the Wildcats have a good defense, Texas' is better and much deeper.
The Texas defensive backfield has been fairly suspect this season, giving up 210 yards through the air each week. This week, Texas does get Tarell Brown and Marcus Griffin back, and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact those two will make on an aching unit.
Nebraska's tight ends seem to have been hiding out over the past few weeks, and one would think they could play a big role Saturday. TE Matt Herian will catch anything, but still plays quite tentatively, making yards after catch nil. Nebraska will have to throw on first and second downs this week, as opposed to what they have done over the past two games. WR Maurice Purify has been coming along and appears to be Taylor's favorite target. Don't sleep on the other receivers though, as they are all capable of making big plays.
Nebraska has been conservative in the last three games after taking two touchdown leads, drawing much criticism. One thing that has been accomplished by playing conservatively is winning time of possession by large margins. Nebraska held the ball 13 minutes longer than Iowa State, and 9 minutes longer than Kansas State, limiting their possessions and resting the defense. It is going to be difficult for Nebraska to find running room this week, but may find success rushing to the weakside against Crowder and LB Scott Derry. Derry is the weakest of the Longhorn starters and if the back gets past Crowder, there will be opportunities for some nice gains.
Baylor was able to compile 347 yards (320 passing) on the Longhorns in Austin last week, and there is no reason to believe that Nebraska isn't capable of doing the same or better in Lincoln.
Texas' Offense vs. Nebraska's Defense
Nebraska's defense seemed to be playing bend but don't break defense against Iowa State and Kansas State, as both had opportunities in the redzone, but couldn't make anything happen when they got there. Nebraska's goal line stand against Kansas State was outstanding, as they moved the Wildcats backwards on second and third down, followed by an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Texas stumbled out of the gates early against Baylor last week, but came back with a vengeance, as the Bears were not able to stop the Longhorns consistently through the rest of the game.
Nebraska's rush defense has been stifling over the past two games, giving up 75 yards combined in those outings. Texas has two outstanding running backs in Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles, and could likely see just as many passes come their way as rushes. Nebraska has given up first downs to running backs on screens and shovel passes. Speed at linebacker has been a question mark for Nebraska, but could be on its way to being solved with Steve Octavien coming back to the mix this week. One negative is that MLB Corey McKeon may not play, however, Lance Brandenburgh has looked good in his place.
Eyes should fall on the play in the trenches as Texas' great offensive line will match up against Nebraska's great defensive front. It has been a tall order to get to McCoy for a sack this season, as he has only gone down 6 times. Nebraska's defensive line hasn't been getting sacks on opposing quarterbacks with the sort of consistency they were a season ago, but have been getting decent pressure nevertheless.
A major question will be how freshman Colt McCoy will react in his first game outside of Texas state lines, on a cold and soggy day. Nebraska's top priority will be to get after him early and often to force some freshman mistakes. McCoy has played better than most expected, but still makes poor throws now and again. A few poor throws on the road can be the difference between a win and a loss. This will definitely be an area of the game to watch.
What will help McCoy out considerably is the amount of talent he has around him at his disposal. WR Limas Sweed is an All-American caliber player that will try to do what USC's Dwayne Jarrett did against the Huskers a month ago; make big plays all game long against a suspect secondary. He'll surely match up well against Cortney Grixby, a 5'9" corner that has struggled this season. Nebraska's defensive backs typically give up-to an 8 yard cushion to receivers, which against good offenses, has given up many first downs. If McCoy can get into a rhythm with his receivers, they could have a big day.
Keys to the Game
For Nebraska to Win:
1.) Balanced attack. Texas' defensive front is too good to expect 5 yards per carry.
2.) Pressure Colt McCoy, put him on his back. This will help the DBs and give the team opportunities to win the game.
3.) Start fast. Baylor had success early, Nebraska could start similarly.
4.) No turnovers. Especially inside the 20. Texas will take advantage.
5.) No penalties. Picking up 10 in 4 downs consistently will be enough of a challenge, no need to add 5 and 10 yards to the bill.
For Texas to Win:
1.) Stifle Nebraska run game. This should dictate the pace of the game.
2.) Quick Out routes for 8-10 yards are successful against Nebraska.
3.) Get Young and Charles involved in passing game.
4.) Put Nebraska away early. The longer they stay in the game, with the crowd and weather being out of Texas' favor, it may not bode well for a 4th quarter showdown.
5.) Secondary will have to be improved. Taylor will hit open receivers if they are available and make a defense look silly.
Weather Report for Nebraska vs. Texas
Latest Line - Texas by 5.
Special Teams: Texas
CB - Zack Bowman - knee - out for season
CB - Isaiah Fluellen - knee - out for season
MLB - Phillip Dillard - knee - out for season
OLB - Nick Covey - knee - out for season
LB - Clayton Sievers - hamstring - day-to-day
OG - Greg Austin - knee - day-to-day
LB - Corey McKeon - ankle - day-to-day
C - Kurt Mann - virus - probable
OG - Cedrick Dockery - knee - out for season
LB - Roddrick Muckelroy - finger - out indefinitely
DT - Frank Okam - knee - day-to-day
CB - Tarell Brown - toe - probable
S - Marcus Griffin - ankle - probable
Game Breakdown & Outlook
This is a truly special match-up of two of the four 800-win programs in college football. Texas has had success in Lincoln that few teams in history can claim. Currently, Texas is riding a two game winning streak in Memorial Stadium, however, those two games have been decided by a total of just 7 points. The last meeting, 2002, saw a 7th ranked Texas team come into unranked Nebraska's house, expecting a decent sized victory. This game literally went down to the final moments, as then Nebraska QB Jammal Lord was picked off by Texas DB Nathan Vasher with 10 seconds remaining, securing a 27-24 victory for the Longhorns.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the series between these two teams is that after 10 games, Texas leads the series 6 games to 4, but only by a margin of 6 total points. It is difficult to find another series in college football that has had 10 games decided by so few points. Judging by the spread of this week's game, it is apparent that Las Vegas believes this one will be close as well.
In Nebraska's other game against a participant of last season's national title game, USC, the Trojans defeated the Huskers in Los Angeles 28-10. Nebraska had their opportunities in this game to win, but dropped two easy interceptions that would have changed the complexion of the game. If Nebraska has hopes of winning Saturday, they will need to take hold of these opportunities when they present themselves.
Saturday's weather in Lincoln is expected to be in the low 40s with a 60% chance of rain and an 18 mph breeze from the North. The word snow has even been thrown out there, which is unlikely. Neither team has played in that type of weather yet, and it will make a difference in this game. Not necessarily in the outcome, but in the play-calling and pace of the game.
Although clichéd, this game will be won in the trenches. The team that can run the ball more effectively will win this football game, especially if the sloppy weather expected becomes a reality. Both teams are chocked full of talent at running back, however, Texas has a better offensive line than Nebraska. Neither defense gives up much in the way of rushing yards, and it will be interesting to see who budges first. There is something to be said about having a game of this stature at home for Nebraska, and the worse the weather gets, and the louder the crowd is, etc. all favors the Huskers. At that same time, there is something to be said about talent and depth, and in those categories, Texas definitely has the edge.
Texas QB Colt McCoy, in his first game outside of Texas will have to keep his composure in the confines of Memorial Stadium Saturday morning, in a test that will be unlike anything he's been in. The Red River Shoot-Out, the early season game against Ohio State, neither of those will match the intensity and noise that will be there for him in Lincoln. He will need to take a page from Kansas QB Adam Barmann, who started his game with Nebraska this year with three interceptions. He stayed composed, and brought his team back before losing in overtime.
Assuming some precipitation does fall during this game, expect a lower scoring game. Nebraska will keep this close as long as they don't turn the ball over, but will need some help to get the victory over a Texas team with more talent. If the Husker defense gets adequate pressure on McCoy, and forces a mistake or two, with the crowd in their favor, will change this game completely. This game should be decided by a touchdown or less, but at this point in the season, Nebraska hasn't done enough to prove they will pull the upset. Texas wins in an ugly heavyweight fight by a field goal.
Nebraska - 21
Texas - 24