Game Preview - Texas A&M vs. Nebraska

Check out our latest game preview as Nebraska hosts the Texas A&M Aggies.

GAME EIGHT
October 20th, 2007
1:05 PM CT
No TV
Lincoln, NE

TEXAS A&M (5 - 2) (2 - 1)
VS
NEBRASKA (4 - 3) (1 - 2)

Gametime Weather
Weather Report for Texas A&M vs. Nebraska

Latest Line - Nebraska by 2.


Player Breakdowns



Texas A&M Offense

The Texas A&M Aggie offense is as one dimensional as it gets, with an almost absent passing attack, but a solid rushing game. Coming into their eighth game, the Aggies rank 43rd nationally in total offense (408.57 ypg), 109th in passing (162.57 ypg), 93rd in passing efficiency (112.67 rating), 7th rushing (246 ypg), 42nd scoring offense (31.57 ppg), and 17th in turnover margin (+1.00).

QB: Jr. Stephen McGee (97 of 175, 1039 yds, 4 TDs, 4 INTs) is a dual threat QB and has been having a pretty decent season. McGee leads the team in rushing; moving forward for 544 yards and 4 touchdowns on 85 carries. He isn't among the fastest QB's in the country, but he can run the zone option efficiently. McGee has an average arm, as he completes 55.4% of his passes, but isn't going to scare anyone with his 1 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. Behind McGee is RFr. Jerrod Johnson (2 of 7, 50 yds, 2 TD), is a big QB (6'6", 232 lbs), but can move well around the field. Johnson has rushed for 93 yards and 3 touchdowns on 9 carries.

RB: A&M's running game is outstanding, and the backfield has a great top tandem of backs. Jr. Jorvorskie Lane (102 carries, 445 yds, 11 TDs) is the offense's big power back at 268 pounds. He is a load to take down, but also has a good burst of speed. So. Mike Goodson (88 carries, 433 yds, 2 TDs) offers a nice change of pace to Lane with his speed rushing abilities. So. Keondra Smith (19 carries, 74 yds, 1 TD) is the only other running back that has seen meaningful carries this year. This backfield is the key to the offense. When they are running well, this offense is tough to stop, when they aren't running well, the offense becomes stagnant. Mike Goodson (14 catches, 171 yds, 2 TDs), Jorvorskie Lane (7 catches, 55 yds, 1 TD), and Keondra Smith (6 catches, 11 yds) have all caught passes, but aren't the team's top options at receiver. Goodson does well in shovel and screen pass plays. At fullback is Sr. Chris Alexander (7 carries, 22 yds; 4 catches, 34 yds) with Jr. Nick LaMantia (1 carry, 1 yd; 1 catch, 0 yd) backing him up. These guys are used primarily as blockers, but Alexander does see the ball occasionally.

WR/TE: Texas A&M has a decent line-up of receivers, but the passing game does play second to the running game. Starters at the wide receiver positions are Sr. Kerry Franks (19 catches, 340 yds, 1 TD) at X, Sr. Earvin Taylor (8 catches, 74 yds) at H, and Jr. Pierre Brown (8 catches, 84 yds) at Z. Franks has done a nice job this year, using his shiftiness to get yards after catch. Taylor and Brown are taller wide outs, but just haven't been given a whole lot of opportunities for passes to come their way. Top back-ups include Sr. Michael Corey (2 catches, 13 yds, 1 TD), So. E.J. Shankle (2 catches, 11 yds), and So. Cody Beyer. Top tight ends are Jr. Martellus Bennett (24 catches, 276 yds, 1 TD) and Sr. Joey Thomas (3 catches, 39 yds). Bennett has caught at least one pass in 25 straight games. He can tie the school record for consecutive games with a catch (Terrence Murphy - 26, 2001-2004) this week against Nebraska. Bank on it happening.

OL: The A&M offensive line is doing a nice job this season. Through seven games, the line has allowed for 5.3 yards per rush, while giving up only 5 sacks. The Aggies own the second best rushing attack in the Big XII conference. Texas A&M refers to their linemen as either quick or strong. Strong refers to the side where the TE lines up. Starting at quick tackle is Jr. Travis Schneider (6'8", 303 lbs) and at strong tackle is Sr. Corey Clark (6'6", 326 lbs). Top tackle reserves include Jr. Yemi Babalola (6'4", 315 lbs) and So. Robbie Frost (6'6", 302 lbs). Starting at quick guard Sr. Kirk Elder (6'5", 308 lbs) and Sr. Chris Yoder (6'3", 314 lbs) starts at strong tackle. Top back-ups at guard include So. Lee Grimes (6'6", 339 lbs.) and So. Michael Shumard (6'5", 309 lbs.). At center, Sr. Cody Wallace (6'4", 296 lbs) starts, with So. Kevin Matthews (6'4", 300 lbs) performing back-up duties.


Texas A&M Defense


The Texas A&M defense doesn't call back to the time of the wrecking crew, with a poor pass defense and mediocre rush defense this season. The Aggies' defense ranks 74th nationally in total defense (399.71 ypg), 99th pass defense (264.29 ypg), 93rd pass efficiency defense (138.66 rating), 40th rush defense (135.43 ypg), and 45th in scoring defense (24 ppg).

DL: The Texas A&M defensive line hasn't been great, giving up 3.7 yards per carry to opponents, while earning just 7 sacks as a unit. Talent and experience is here, but it isn't showing up 100% on the field. Starting at left defensive end is Sr. Chris Harrington (32 tackles, 1 sack, 2 FF, 2 QBH, 1 PBU), with Jr. Amos Gbunblee (6 tackles, 1 FR) backing him up. On the right side is Jr. Cyril Obiozor (25 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF) as the starter, while Jr. Michael Bennett (23 tackles, 3 PBU) is his back-up. Not enough pressure off the edge is allowing opposing QBs time to throw. At nose tackle is Sr. Henry Smith (14 tackles, 1 QBH, 1 PBU), with So. Kellen Heard (18 tackles, 1 FF) sharing a lot of time. Starting at defensive tackle is Sr. Red Bryant (27 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 PBU, 1 BK), with RFr. Lucas Patterson (15 tackles, 0.5 sack, 1 FR) serving as his back-up. This group was not able to get much pressure last week against Texas Tech and they were able to throw all over this defense.

LB: Texas A&M's linebacking corps is decent, but not great this season. Starting at MLB is Sr. Misi Tupe (53 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 PBU), with So. Anthony Lewis (20 tackles, 1 PBU) performing back-up duties. At SLB is Sr. Mark Dodge (66 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 PBU), while So. Matt Featherston (20 tackles, 1 FF) serving as his back-up. Dodge and Tupe are the top two tacklers for the Aggies through seven games, but the tandem has just 5 tackles for loss total. Dodge had a great day against the Huskers last year, with 17 tackles and 1 INT.

DB:
The Aggies' defensive backfield has not done well thus far, ranking near the bottom of the pile in both pass defense and pass efficiency defense. Starting at cornerback will be Jr. Arkeith Brown (21 tackles, 1 PBU) and Sr. Marquis Carpenter (13 tackles, 3 INT, 3 PBU). Former starter, Jr. Danny Gorrer (30 tackles, 1 PBU) suffered a season ending knee injury against Texas Tech last week, so Brown should step in. So. Jordan Peterson (7 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR, 3 PBU) is the top reserve. At A&M's WHIP position, So. Jordan Pugh (44 tackles, 1 FR, 5 PBU) starts, while RFr. Kenny Brown (3 tackles, 1 FR) is the top reserve. At safety, Jr. Devin Gregg (40 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU) is the starter at free safety and Jr. Alton Dixon (49 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 FR, 1 PBU) starts at strong safety. Top backups include Sr. Stephen Hodge (12 tackles) and So. Chevar Bryson (10 tackles). Texas A&M's opponents are completing 61% of their passes, which is not a number you want as a defense. This group had a really tough time stopping the Texas Tech offense last week, especially with the short passes.


Texas A&M Special Teams


Texas A&M's special teams units have been average this season. The Aggies rank 22nd in net punting (37.54 yd avg), 85th in punt returns (7.33 yd avg), and 45th in kickoff returns (22.50 yd avg).

K: So. Matt Szymanski is not having a great season, making just 10 of 18 field goal attempts, with a 45 yard long. He is just 2 for 8 on kicks of 35 or more yards. On kickoffs, Szymanski is averaging 67.1 yards on 37 kickoffs with 15 going for a touchback.

P: Jr. Justin Brantly starts at punter for the Aggies and is doing a very good job. He has punted 24 times for an average of 43.2 yards this season. 7 of his 24 punts have been downed inside the opponents' 20.

KR/PR: Texas A&M's return game has been pedestrian this season. Sr. Kerry Franks (11 kick returns, 26.5 yd avg) and Jr. Pierre Brown (8 kick returns, 20.4 yd avg) make up the first-team kick return unit. So. Jordan Peterson (14 punt returns, 7.7 yd avg) is Texas A&M's top punt returner.

Coverage: The Texas A&M kick coverage team has been outstanding this season, allowing an average of just 17.6 yards on 24 kickoff return attempts. Punt coverage has also been stellar, with opponents averaging only 4.4 yards on 14 punt returns.



Nebraska Offense

Nebraska's offense is a mess right now. Consistency is a major problem, especially up front with the line. Coming into week 8 of the season, Nebraska ranks 38th nationally in total offense (424.43), 27th in passing (269.71 ypg), 33rd in pass efficiency (135.55 rating), 64th in rushing (154.71 ypg), 52nd in scoring offense (28.43 ppg), and 82nd in turnover margin (-.86).

QB: Sr. Sam Keller (156 for 246, 1849 yds, 11 TDs, 10 INTs) has a side-armed throwing motion that is different than most quarterbacks. He had a solid start to the season, but since entering Big XII play is just 53 for 89, 571 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He has been under added pressure due to breakdowns in blocking, and is still having issues with his receivers dropping balls. It isn't all his teammates' fault however, as he does tend to force plays that aren't there, resulting in turnovers and also has thrown his share of bad passes. When he is on, though, he is an outstanding quarterback. The problem is that no one has seen him on a hot streak since Ball State, 4 games ago. Jr. Joe Ganz (1 for 1, 19 yds) is Nebraska's top back-up and hasn't seen action since the season opener against Nevada.

RB: Nebraska's running backs are talented, and have four pretty good backs. Jr. Marlon Lucky (138 carries, 698 yds, 6 TDs) is Nebraska's top back. Lucky is a quick back that isn't going to run over or through anyone and is not great between the tackles, but is tough to catch in the open field. TFr. Quentin Castille (50 carries, 225 yds, 3 TDs) is a bruising runner, and put in 102 yards last week against Oklahoma State. TFr. Roy Helu (24 carries, 94 yds) is a speed back that has looked good on his limited carries. Jr. Cody Glenn (26 carries, 86 yds, 2 TDs) is a power rusher that is a solid back when he is healthy. Lack of good blocking from the line has hurt this unit's production. Marlon Lucky (36 catches, 263 yds, 1 TD), in addition to being the leading rusher, also leads the team in receptions. Cody Glenn (6 catches, 52 yds), Roy Helu (2 catch, 26 yds), and Quentin Castille (1 catch, 15 yds) have also been used into the passing game. At FB, Jr. Thomas Lawson (3 catches, 11 yds, 3 TDs) starts. He has only touched the ball inside an opponents' 10 yard line.

WR/TE:
Nebraska's receiving corps is an inconsistent bunch. Dropped passes and lackluster yards after catch have plagued this unit. Starting at Z is Sr. Terrence Nunn (21 catches, 243 yds), who is really struggling this season. Behind Nunn is Sr. Frantz Hardy (9 catches, 142 yds), a fast wideout that has issues with dropping passes. Starting at X is Jr. Nate Swift (20 catches, 256 yds, 1 TD), who has good hands and does a good job in traffic. Sr. Maurice Purify (25 catches, 332 yds, 1 TD) is Nebraska's best playmaker, but doesn't seem to see the field nearly enough. None of his teammates can match his skills, yet he is still not considered a starter. Jr. Todd Peterson (10 catches, 169 yds, 2 TDs), Sr. Dan Erickson (4 catches, 46 yds), So. Menelik Holt and TFr. Niles Paul (1 catch, 6 yds) are also receivers that may see action. Starting at TE, or H-Back as Nebraska refers to it as, will be Sr. Sean Hill (11 catches, 229 yds, 3 TD). Hill has been a nice surprise for the Huskers. Sr. J.B. Phillips (2 catches, 19 yds, 1 TD), RFr Dreu Young (1 catch, 14 yds), Jr. Hunter Teafatiller (3 catches, 21 yds), and Mike McNeill (1 catch, 25 yds) are reserves at TE, but haven't seen many throws their way.

OL: Nebraska's offensive line has been underwhelming after 7 games this year. This was supposed to be one of the best lines Nebraska has had in years, but it has fallen far short of those expectations. The rush blocking has been poor, with limited running room to run, and pass protection has been shaky lately, as QB Sam Keller is short on time to make his throws. On the season, they are allowing the backs 4.6 yards per carry which has been on the decline since the season opener. Starting at tackle is Sr. Carl Nicks (6'5", 330 lbs) on the left and Jr. Lydon Murtha (6'7", 310 lbs) on the right. Both are pro-prospects, but have struggled with consistency this season. RFr. Mike Smith (6'6", 290 lbs) and Jr. Matt Slauson (6'5", 335 lbs) are the top tackle reserves. Jr. Mike Huff (6'4", 300 lbs) starts his second game at RG, while So. Jacob Hickman (6'4", 285 lbs) starts at LG. RFr. Keith Williams (6'5", 310 lbs.) and RFr. D.J. Jones (6'5", 310 lbs) are Nebraska's top reserves at guard. Sr. Brett Byford (6'3", 300 lbs) starts at center, and has also been struggling, while Sr. Jordan Picou (6'3", 300 lbs.) is Byford's top back-up.


Nebraska Defense

Nebraska's defense is a complete abomination. They can't stop the run, can't stop the pass, and can't get pressure on their opposing QB. Nebraska is ranked 104th nationally in total defense (457.14 ypg), 83rd pass defense (248.57 ypg), 57th pass efficiency defense (122.94 rating), 106th rush defense (208.57 ypg), and 87th in scoring defense (31.29 ppg).

DL: Nebraska's defensive line has been pushed around all season long, failing to put together any kind of formidable pass rush. Opponents have been running wild against this unit, chewing up 5.1 yards per rush, an unheard of number by former Blackshirt standards. Jr. Barry Turner (17 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QBH, 1 PBU) is the starter at open end. Turner has struggled with quickness after putting on bulk in the off-season. Starting at base end is Jr. Zach Potter (33 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 QBH, 1 PBU), a big, 285 pound end that is playing as well as anyone on the line. Top reserves are Jr. Clayton Sievers (3 tackles, 1 QBH) and Sr. Andy Poulosky (6 tackles) at open, with RFr. Pierre Allen (5 tackle, 1 PBU) at base. Starting at nose tackle is Jr. Ndamukong Suh (21 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 QBH), with Jr. Shukree Barfield (7 tackles) and Sr. Brandon Johnson performing back-up duties. Suh has great measurables, but hasn't put four quarters of quality play together yet. So. Ty Steinkuhler (4 tackles, 1 FF), starter at defensive tackle has struggled with some injuries this season, keeping his production down. Jr. Kevin Dixon (16 tackles, 1 INT) is his primary back-up and does a nice job when he steps in.

LB: Nebraska's linebacking crew was supposed to be among the nation's best this season, but has turned out to be a colossal disappointment. So. Phillip Dillard (29 tackles, 1 QBH, 2 PBU) will get his second official start this week at MLB. Dillard shows a lot of skills and desire, which has won him the starting position over Sr. Corey McKeon (37 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR, 2 QBH, 4 PBU), who had been a starter since 2005. Sr. Bo Ruud (42 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FF, 1 PBU) starts at SLB, while Sr. Lance Brandenburgh (31 tackles) stars at WLB. Ruud has had some big plays for the Huskers this year, but has been having an overall disappointing season. Sr. Steve Octavien (39 tackles, 0.5 sack, 6 QBH, 2 PBU) serves as the top reserve at WLB, while TFr. Blake Lawrence and Jr. Tyler Wortman (1 tackle) are the top reserves at SLB. Octavien is the best athlete of the unit and see plenty of action, despite his recent demotion. Depending on how things go, more youth could see the field.

DB: Nebraska's secondary has been having much difficulty this season covering good receivers. This unit has been shredded in multiple games this season, having problems in man as well as zone. Sr. Cortney Grixby (14 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBU) is in year four as starter at WCB. He has been playing the best of this group, despite being just 5'9". Grixby's back-up, Sr. Zack Bowman (24 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH, 3 PBU), hasn't been consistent since his return from a pair of knee injuries over the past year and a half. Jr. Armando Murillo (37 tackles, 5 PBU) starts at LCB, with Sr. Andre Jones (10 tackles, 2 PBU) backing him up. Both Murillo and Jones are also struggling this season. At the safety positions, Sr. Tierre Green (26 tackles, 3 PBU) starts at FS and So. Larry Asante (37 tackles, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 1 PBU) is the starter at SS. Green is having a disappointing season, not making many plays or getting big hits. Top reserves include So. Rickey Thenarse (13 tackles, 1 FF) and Sr. Ben Eisenhart (12 tackles) at FS, with Sr. Bryan Wilson (12 tackles, 1 QBH) at SS. Thenarse is a great young talent that hits like a freight train, but doesn't get on the field often enough.


Nebraska Special Teams

Nebraska's special teams are fairly average this season, but the only consistent unit on the football team. The Huskers are ranked 25th in net punting (37.43 yd avg), 98th in punt returns (6.09 yd avg), and 43rd in kickoff returns (22.63 yd avg).

K: TFr. Adi Kunalic (1 for 1, 46 yd lng) handles kickoffs and long field goals. Kunalic has pushed 19 of 36 kickoffs for touchback, with a 67.3 yard average. RFr. Alex Henery handles short field goals (5 for 5, 39 yd lng) and extra points.

P: Jr. Dan Titchener is one of the nation's top punters and a Ray Guy Award candidate. He is averaging 41.2 yards on 29 punts with a long of 51. 9 of his 25 punts have been downed inside the opponents' 20. He has above average leg power, with typically solid consistency.

KR/PR: Nebraska's kick return game has been decent, however, the punt return game is below average. Seniors Cortney Grixby (29 kick returns, 24.8 yd avg) and Andre Jones (9 kick returns, 22.3 yd avg) are the top kickoff return men. Cortney Grixby (7 punt returns, 5.1 yd avg) and Andre Jones (2 returns, 12.5 yd avg) are also the team's top punt returners.

Coverage: Nebraska's coverage teams have been pretty solid this season. The kick coverage unit is allowing an average of 19.8 yards on 18 kickoff returns, while the punt return coverage team allows a 5.2 yard average on 12 punt returns. So. Rickey Thenarse is the bullet for the unit, and has delivered some crushing blows.


Unit Match-Ups

Nebraska's Offense vs. Texas A&M's Defense

Nebraska's offense has been a disaster against conference opponents this year. Nebraska went nearly 8 quarters without a touchdown over the past two games, and problems continue to go unfixed. QB Sam Keller has a solid arm, but hasn't been able to find a groove since the Ball State game a month ago. Over the past two weeks, Oklahoma State and Missouri were able to get consistent pressure on Keller and force him into mistakes. The biggest key to shutting down Nebraska is to get aggressive and get after the QB. The Huskers' receivers are solid, but no one is really jumping into the "go-to" guy role. Maurice Purify is the best of their group, but he isn't on the field nearly enough to be a big time difference maker. Texas A&M couldn't put together a pass rush last week against Texas Tech, and their secondary is awful. With experienced starter Danny Gorrer gone for the rest of the season with a knee injury, the problem is now bigger in the defensive backfield. Nebraska has been playing poor pass defenses two weeks in a row, but they haven't been able to take advantage. The Aggies allow their opponents to connect on 61% of their passes, while Nebraska QB Sam Keller is completing 63% of his throws. If the stars align and he gets the time necessary to throw, Keller should be able to do well.

The Nebraska running game hasn't been solid since the 413 yard effort against Nevada in the season opener. Blocking has been the biggest reason why they can't get it going on the ground. Marlon Lucky was pulled in the second half of last week's game against Oklahoma State and true freshmen Quentin Castille and Roy Helu saw a lot of carries, with decent success. Still, consistency is definitely lacking, and until it gets better, this group will be hit and miss. Texas A&M is giving up just 3.7 yards per carry this season, while Nebraska's running backs are averaging 4.6 yards per carry. The Aggies rush defense is solid enough to stuff the Nebraska run game, but isn't impregnable as Louisiana Monroe and Oklahoma State were able to eclipse the 200 yard mark on the ground. Texas A&M's defense is allowing opponents to convert an unimpressive 47% of their third down conversions, while also allowing an 82% success rate in red-zone scoring. Nebraska is converting a disappointing 44% of their third downs, and an ever declining 86% red-zone scoring offense rate.

Down in the trenches, Nebraska's average offensive lineman is 6'5", 305 lbs, while Texas A&M's average defensive lineman comes in at 6'5", 293 lbs. This will be an interesting match-up to watch because of how close in size they are in the middle of each line. Nebraska's offensive line is not blocking well in any phase of the game, but some good running in the fourth quarter last week might help them gain some confidence coming into this week's contest. The Huskers have given up 9 sacks and 39 tackles for loss this season, while Texas A&M has earned 40 tackles for loss and 7 sacks this season. If Nebraska can't keep QB Sam Keller upright, it will have trouble moving the ball since the rush game continues to struggle.


Texas A&M's Offense vs. Nebraska's Defense

The Texas A&M offense is a great rushing power, but does not possess a great passing attack to compliment. QB Stephen McGee is a tough guy to handle, and is one of the best option QB's in the country today. McGee leads the Aggies in rushing with 544 yards, and has deceptive speed, but not elite. His arm isn't at the top of the Big XII conference heap, but can get the job done when needed. He is completing nearly 55% of his passes, which isn't terrible, but his 4 picks to 4 touchdown ratio is not what you want to see. Nebraska's defensive has just 6 sacks on the season and can't get any kind of consistent pass rush. Texas A&M's receivers are pretty good, but other than Martellus Bennett, there aren't many big time performers. WR Kerry Franks is one to watch though, with his good speed. Because Nebraska's secondary has had serious problems defending good tight ends, expect a good day from Bennett.

Texas A&M's offensive prowess is their running game. It has been among the nation's best this season, ranking 7th overall in the country with a 246 yard per game average. Jorvorskie Lane is an outstanding power back and will look to have a better game against Nebraska than he did last year, when he was held to just 13 yards on 8 carries. Fortunately for him, this is a much different Nebraska defense, one that has struggled to do anything to stop opponents' run games. Mike Goodson had a good game against Nebraska last year, when he averaged 7.3 yards per carry. A similar average this season is definitely not out of the question. Nebraska has been missing many tackles and this means big trouble against this tandem of tough running backs. Oklahoma State's Dantrell Savage ran for 212 yards on 25 carries against the Huskers last week as the Huskers struggled to find answers for Oklahoma State's option plays, which isn't good news for them, coming into a game with a Texas A&M team that loves to run the option. Texas A&M's third down conversion percentage is a mediocre 49%, but has a very good 89% red-zone scoring average. The Nebraska defense has been awful on 3rd downs, allowing opponents to convert on 47% of their attempts. They have also allowed opponents to score on 88% of their red-zone opportunities.

Texas A&M's average offensive lineman is 6'5", 309 lbs, while Nebraska's average defensive lineman comes in at 6'4", 284 lbs. The Aggies have been doing a good job opening holes for their backs this season. Texas Tech did a good job getting to Stephen McGee though last week. If Nebraska allows themselves to get aggressive with their defensive schemes, they might be able to have some success, but they haven't shown signs of that yet this season. After 7 games, Nebraska has garnered 46 tackles for loss and just 6 sacks. At the same time, Oklahoma State has allowed 30 tackles for loss and 5 sacks through 7 games. Nebraska's defense is allowing a ridiculous 5.1 yards per carry this season, due in large part to a lack of solid tackling. Texas A&M is averaging 5.3 yards per carry this season and should be able to run all over the field and control the clock in the process.


Keys to the Game

For Nebraska to Win:
1.) Slow down the A&M rushing attack.
2.) Win turnover battle. Hasn't forced a single turnover in past two games.
3.) Eliminate penalties. Penalties were out of control last week, resulting in failed drives.
4.) Keep QB Sam Keller upright.
5.) Third down conversion needs to improve dramatically.

For Texas A&M to Win:
1.) Get the offense back on track with great rushing performance against poor Nebraska rush defense.
2.) Finish drives. A number of drives were stalled last week after promising starts.
3.) Get pressure on Nebraska QB Sam Keller and force him into mistakes.
4.) Improve on third downs.
5.) Tighten up pass defense.


Position Advantages

Position/Advantage
QBs: Even
RBs: Texas A&M
WR/TE's: Nebraska
OL: Texas A&M
DL: Even
LB: Even
DB: Nebraska
Special Teams: Nebraska
Coaching: Texas A&M


Injury Report

Nebraska:
OG - Andy Christensen - knee - out for season
RB - Kenny Wilson - leg - out for season

Texas A&M:
CB - Danny Gorrer - knee - out for season


Game Breakdown & Outlook

This is the 13th meeting between Nebraska and Texas A&M. The number 13 is fitting considering the misfortunes surrounding both coaching staffs over the past few weeks. Between A&M coach Dennis Franchione's newsletter scandal and Nebraska's athletic director Steve Pederson being fired, then succeeded by former Husker coach Tom Osborne, neither coaching staff has a true sense on job stability. The winning staff will have a slight bit of breathing room, but the seats are still going to be hot.

The Huskers hold a dominant 10-2 all-time record over the Aggies. Nebraska is currently on a 4 game winning streak over the Aggies dating back to 1999. Last year in College Station, it ended up being one of the most exciting finishes of the Big XII season. With 1:57 remaining and down by 6 points, Nebraska would drive 75 yards downfield as QB Zac Taylor connected with WR Maurice Purify for 9 yards and the game winning touchdown. The last meeting in Lincoln was in 2003 as the Huskers cruised to a 48-12 victory. Saturday's game isn't likely to be anything like that 2003 contest, at least not in Nebraska's favor. The only time Texas A&M has ever defeated Nebraska in Lincoln was back in 1955 and this is probably their best chance to do it since then.

Texas A&M comes into Lincoln with a 5-2 record, 0-2 away from College Station. Their season began with a 38-7 victory over Montana State, despite being out-gained 403 to 390 in total yards. In their second game, they needed triple overtime to defeat Fresno State 47-45. The Aggies blew a 19 point halftime lead in that game, but were able to pull it out with a 2-point conversion in the third overtime. Game three was a 54-14 squashing of Louisiana-Monroe, while game four was a disastrous 34-17 loss at Miami (FL). The Hurricanes were able to shut down the A&M run game, and from there the Aggies couldn't do much offensively. The team then moved on to a 34-10 beating of Baylor, followed by an exciting 24-23 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. In last week's game against Texas Tech, the Aggies jumped out to an early 7-0 lead before getting trounced by the Red Raiders to the final of 35-7. Texas A&M would like to get their first road win of the season this week in Lincoln against a flailing Nebraska football team. A win keeps the Aggies alive in the Big XII south hunt, while a loss will surely make head coach Dennis Franchione's seat red-hot.

Nebraska's season started with much promise, but has been in a state of disrepair for over a month. The season started against Nevada, a 52-10 shellacking, with 625 yards of total offense. Game two took them to play Wake Forest as they escaped with a 23-20 win, despite being out-gained. USC then came to town and crushed Nebraska 49-31, crushing hopes for a return to the elite of college football. The following week against Ball State was ugly, as the Huskers won 41-40, despite giving up 610 yards of offense to the Cardinals. The Huskers were home again the next week to play Iowa State, and were victorious 35-17, even though the team was out-gained once again and turned the ball over 3 times. Game six against Missouri was an embarrassing, behind the woodshed beating for Nebraska, as they were demolished 41-6. Last week, the Huskers were embarrassed again, this time at home to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys ran up a 38-0 lead before halftime, and went on to beat the Huskers 45-14. Nebraska looks like a team that has quit and needs to win Saturday if they have any intention of going bowling. A loss will send Nebraska to 3-3 at home this season, and a disappointing 4-4 overall. An idea on how poorly this team has played this season? Nebraska has out-gained just one opponent all season long, Nevada in the season opener. Something else to think about for the Huskers is that since the Big XII formed, Nebraska has never gone 0-3 against the South division in one season. A loss to this week will drop them to 0-2 with a match-up at Texas looming next week

Nebraska's offense needs to find an identity. In the season opener, they appeared to be a run heavy team, from games 2 through 4 they were pass heavy. The past three games have been a mixed bag, however, and nothing seems to be working well at all. It all starts up front for Nebraska and they need their offensive line to start playing up to their potential. Nebraska has had difficulties pushing people around this year, and that lack of physicality has shown up on the lack of rushing yards. Teams now know that if they can get a push into the backfield to pressure QB Sam Keller, that the Husker offense will fold like a cheap tent. Nebraska cannot expect to win another game this season playing the way they have the past month, and time is running out to improve. RB Marlon Lucky will now be splitting up more of his carries with his stable mates, but he will still be an integral part of the offense, especially in the passing game. With Texas A&M's weak secondary, it is time for Nebraska to show what it can do, what it showed everyone in a few games early in the season. If it isn't done this week against the third straight suspect defense the Huskers have played, it won't occur in the final four games either.

Texas A&M just needs to run the football left, right, and straight forward. They've got the talent to do it with Jorvorskie Lane, Mike Goodson, and Stephen McGee, and are up against one of the nation's worst rush defenses in Nebraska. Running room should be plentiful, and the Aggies should have a better game than they did last week against Texas Tech. Nebraska's defense really struggles against dual-threat QB's, and Stephen McGee is a guy that has the ability to shred the Huskers' defense. While McGee doesn't have an elite arm, he can get on a hot streak and look great. Considering how Nebraska has played this year, don't be surprised if McGee gets it going both through the air and on the ground. If he has success throwing the football, watch-out, this game could get ugly. Nebraska's defense has been nothing short of a disaster this season, and possibly the worst in school history. They haven't shown the heart, desire, or determination to get it done up to this point and there really aren't any signs that it is going to get better any time soon.

Nebraska and Texas A&M both really need this win. Expectations were high this season for both of these teams, and neither is performing at the level that was hoped for. Neither team is playing very good on defense, while both have had inconsistencies on offense. Nebraska's offense hasn't shown much of anything offensively for quite some time, and there is a question of whether or not this team has given up. Texas A&M is a beatable team when an opponent stops their running game, but unfortunately for Nebraska, their rush defense is a major problem. Look for the Aggies to take the Huskers out with a consistent rushing attack and a few big plays in the passing game. Nebraska should show more offense than they have in recent weeks, but not enough to get the win.


Texas A&M - 38
Nebraska - 20

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