Five questions. that could determine winner

There's a lot of questions going into the Texas/Nebraska game, and it's the answers which could dictate who wins or loses. We'll look at what we believe to be five of the most important of those. The real answers will only come after the game, but we give you a primer into just what we think will determine who wins.

Who will rush for more yardage?

There's an old saying about controlling the line. If you control it, you control the game. That's football, and in a game like this, where good running games along with potential weather issues could dictate much of how this game will be played.

For both teams you have great running backs, Texas with Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young and Nebraska with the dynamic duo times two, Brandon Jackson, Marlon Lucky, Cody Glenn and Kenny Wilson.

Nebraska has the edge in the number of backs, which could mean fresher legs throughout the game. However, Texas has the better offensive line.

RB, Jamaal Charles

It should be noted that while Texas ranks amongst the best in stopping the run, backs like Iowa State's Stevie Hicks and, of course, Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, managed over four yards per carry.

Add that to the fact that Texas has approximately 25 sacks for a total loss in yards of around 150, you can see that while their run defense is indeed stout, there are weaknesses to be exploited.

If you can run the ball, you can control the clock, and as we have seen this year, Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan likes holding onto the ball. Fans have bristled at times at his penchant for the run over the pass, but it has worked in garnering wins.

If Nebraska can put together a better running game than the Longhorns, Callahan might get yet another win without airing out the ball.

Who has the most time on their hands?

Kind of a by product to the running game, time of possession will be key for both teams. As you don't expect either to go through the air with Texas Tech-like frequency, the offense that keeps the ball longer could have the edge in the end.

Time of possession favors Texas, though, even if they don't have the ball near as much as the Huskers. I say this, because the Horns have a clearly better offensive line. You can say what you want about Nebraska being more physical than last year or being bigger, but last year's line is a poor comparison.

That line was one of the worst Nebraska has had since I really started watching Husker football in the early 80s.

If Nebraska has a slight edge in time of possession, I figure that's a push of sorts, neither team benefiting greatly. But if Nebraska has a big edge, say five minutes or more, that means the Huskers are doing something right.

If Texas wins the T.O.P outright, though, it's probably lights out for the big red.

Who is under more pressure?

With Texas having close 30 sacks and Nebraska having just reached double-digits this last weekend against Kansas State, the obvious edge in pass rushing potential goes to the Horns.

That's odd when you consider that most of the players who accounted for all those sacks for Nebraska, are back, supposedly stronger and faster than ever before.


QB, Zac Taylor

One big reason for the lack of production has been what offenses are doing against Nebraska this year. The 50 sacks the big red amassed last season wasn't lost on any opponent thus far throughout the 2006 campaign.

It's been quick passing games, lots of quarterbacks moving around and even a real dedication to the run.

That doesn't get any easier against Texas as they run out of the shotgun the entire time. Starting QB Colt McCoy has some mobility as well, though, nobody is going to be comparing him to Vince Young………….ever.

Zac Taylor clearly doesn't have that kind of mobility. He can run when he has to, runs well out of bootlegs, but if the defense knows he's going to run, he's a sitting duck.

The running game obviously negates the pass rush, but both teams will have to pass. Who has the most time and the biggest lanes to throw through, that could be the guy who gets to dictate the game all on his own.

In a game like this, you think run first and hopefully the passing game is a nice compliment. The more time the QB gets, the more likely that strategy will play out. Right now you would have to get the advantage to Texas there, but we'll just have to see. It's easy to say, however, that a QB flat on his back, won't do anyone much good.

Sweed or Purify?

A couple of weeks ago you probably wouldn't have known who Nebraska's go-to receiver was. While there has been solid production from a few over the last year and a half, nobody has really stepped up and said that they were THE guy.

Without starting a single game junior wide receiver Maurice Purify seems to have done that, becoming almost the only target the senior QB looks to when the San Francisco Junior College product is on the field.

Purify is a weapon as well, because he's got the size, solid speed and his hands are about as good as you are going to see. If it's even close to him, he catches it, even if it takes a couple of tips before hand to bring it in.

WR, Maurice Purify

Of course, you can say all that and even more about Texas' number one man Limas Sweed. He's been the go-to guy all year for an inexperienced Colt McCoy, and it hasn't helped defenses stop him one bit. It's something when a team drops back to pass, the defenses have a good idea of where it's going, and they still can't do a damn thing to slow it down.

Nebraska ran into that against USC's Dwayne Jarrett, and they will see someone like that again. The Huskers won't be able to stop them, but I'm not sure Texas has anyone that can stop Purify either.

Does the team whose number one receiver goes for the most yards, win the game in the end? Maybe not, but I think it's safe to say that whichever team the most productive receiver, won't be hurting their cause when it's all said and done.

Which secondary will struggle the least?


CB, Andre Jones

Let's face it, and I think that even Longhorns will agree with me on this one: Neither the Huskers' or Horns' secondary is going to make anyone cringe in terror. Well, at least if you are the actual opponent.

Statistically, you could say that the secondary is the weak link of both squads.

When that's the case, it often does come down to who out of the two struggling units, can rise to the occasion and make a play for their team.

Does that lots of pass break ups or lots of interceptions?

Actually, no. It could be one key break up or one very timely interception.

The common thought for both these teams is that their defenses' success will start at the line. They will win the battle with pressure on the QB, and solid tackling at the point of impact by the linebackers. So little faith is put in both units that you figure if it does come down to them having to win the game, you wonder who's advantage it will be.

I wonder that myself, and I think that while I am not expecting excellence, the secondary that can at least be the most opportunistic, will give their team the best chance to win.

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