Nebraska vs Texas Game Preview

Check out our latest game preview as the Huskers travel down to Austin to take on the top 20 Longhorns.

October 27th, 2007
2:30 PM CT
ABC Regional
Austin, TX

NEBRASKA (4 - 4) (1 - 3)
#17/#19 TEXAS (6 – 2) (2 - 2)

Gametime Weather
Weather Report for Nebraska vs. Texas

Latest Line - Texas by 21.


9/1/07 - vs. Arkansas State - W 21-13
9/8/07 - vs. TCU - W 34-13
9/15/07 - at Central Florida - W 35-32
9/22/07 - vs. Rice - W 58-14
9/29/07 - vs. Kansas State - L 21-41
10/6/07 - vs. Oklahoma - L 21-28
10/13/07 - at Iowa State - W 56-3
10/20/07 - at Baylor - W 31-10

9/1/07 - vs. Nevada- W 52-10
9/8/07 - at Wake Forest - W 20-17
9/15/07 - vs. USC - L 31-49
9/22/07 - vs. Ball State - W 41-40
9/29/07 - vs. Iowa State - W 35-17
10/6/07 - at Missouri - L 6-41
10/13/07 - vs. Oklahoma State - L 14-45
10/20/07 - vs. Texas A&M - L 14-36

Player Breakdowns

Texas Offense

The Texas Longhorn offense is a balanced unit, but does lean on its passing game to get the job done. As they enter their ninth game, the Longhorns rank 26th nationally in total offense (437.75 ypg), 27th in passing (273.25 ypg), 25th in passing efficiency (138.68 rating), 47th rushing (164.50 ypg), 28th scoring offense (34.63 ppg), and 60th in turnover margin (0).

QB: So. Colt McCoy (185 of 275, 2169 yds, 15 TDs, 12 INTs) is a solid, but still young quarterback that has been having somewhat of a sophomore slump. McCoy has been hit often this year, and with this punishment has missed some game time. McCoy has an outstanding, accurate arm, completing 67.3% of his passes. However, he is still throwing too many picks to be an elite QB. McCoy will get a chance to put up some numbers against a shot Nebraska defense this weekend, which could ease some of the pain of that sophomore slump. He is starting to come into his own, however, playing very well the past few weeks. McCoy isn't a great dual-threat, but has good enough speed to make defenses respect him, rushing for 172 yards and 1 touchdown on 51 carries. Behind McCoy is TFr. John Chiles (1 of 9, 17 yds. Chiles is a pretty solid running QB that has rushed for 170 yards and 1 touchdown on 31 carries.

RB: Texas' running back crew is led by the talented Jr. Jamaal Charles (142 carries, 722 yds, 8 TDs). Charles is a speedster with good size as well, which makes him one of the more complete backs in the Big XII conference. Top reserves at running back are RFr. Vondrell McGee (34 carries, 165 yds, 1 TD) and Jr. Chris Ogbonnaya (22 carries, 61 yds, 5 TDs). McGee is a speed back, not quite as big as Charles, but has been very effective used near the goal line. He has seen his production increase over the past few games. In the occasions that Texas utilizes a fullback, Chris Ogbonnaya is their top option, with RFr. Blaine Irby backing him up. Chris Ogbonnaya (12 catches, 137 yds) leads the backs in receptions with 12. Jamaal Charles (8 catches, 78 yds), and Blaine Irby (1 catch, 26 yds) have also caught passes, but McCoy doesn't throw the ball to the backs very often.

WR/TE: Texas has a good line-up of receivers, despite losing top wide-out Sr. Limas Sweed (19 catches, 306 yds, 3 TDs) for the season. Starters at wide receiver is Jr. Quan Cosby (41 catches, 359 yds, 3 TDs) at X, and Sr. Nate Jones (49 catches, 552 yds, 4 TDs) at Z. Jones has done an excellent job since replacing Sweed, becoming the top go-to guy. Cosby is another very good threat that is tough to take down in the open field. Top back-ups include Jr. Jordan Shipley (14 catches, 224 yds, 3 TDs) and Sr. Billy Pittman (10 catches, 72 yds). Against a Nebraska defense that hasn't been solid in any area, these receivers should have a solid day. Starting at tight end is So. Jermichael Finley (24 catches, 276 yds, 1 TD), with Jr. Peter Ullman (3 catches, 39 yds) backing him up. Finley is an excellent young tight end that should develop into one of the Big XII's best over the next season or two.

OL: The Longhorn offensive line is doing a decent job this season. After eight games, the line has allowed for 4.3 yards per rush, however, has given up 14 sacks. This line needs to continue to do a better job of keeping McCoy safe in the pocket. Baylor was able to earn 3 sacks against this unit last week. Starting at left tackle is Sr. Tony Hills (6'6", 305 lbs), while So. Adam Ulatoski (6'8", 300 lbs) starts at right tackle. Top tackle reserves include RFr. Kyle Hix (6'7", 320 lbs) and RFr. Tray Allen (6'5", 310 lbs). Starting at guard is So. Chris Hall (6'4", 295 lbs) on the left and Jr. Cedric Dockery (6'4", 320 lbs) on the right. Top back-ups at guard include So. Charlie Tanner (6'4", 295 lbs.) and RFr. Michael Huey (6'5", 305 lbs.). At center, Sr. Dallas Griffin (6'4", 285 lbs) starts, with RFr. Buck Burnette (6'3", 315 lbs) performing back-up duties.

Texas Defense

The Texas defense has been very solid this season, with an excellent rushing defense. The Longhorns' defense ranks 16th nationally in total defense (306 ypg), 54th pass defense (216.63 ypg), 19th pass efficiency defense (106.23 rating), 11th rush defense (89.38 ypg), and 19th in scoring defense (19.25 ppg).

DL: The Texas defensive line has been solid this season, and seems to keep getting better. They are giving up just 2.8 yards per carry to opponents while also earning 16 sacks as a unit. Starting at quick defensive end is Jr. Brian Orakpo (16 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 6 QBH), with RFr. Eddie Jones (18 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 QBH, 1 PBU) and RFr. Sam Acho (8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 2 PBU) backing him up. Orakpo has made an impact since coming back from an early season injury. At power defensive end is So. Lamarr Houston (36 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 FF, 15 QBH, 2 PBU) as the starter, with Jr. Henry Melton (5 tackles, 1FF, 2 QBH) performing as his back-up. Houston is very fast off the edge, even at 275 lbs. At nose tackle is Sr. Derek Lokey (30 tackles, 1 sack, 11 QBH, 2 PBU), with Jr. Roy Miller (28 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 6 QBH, 1 PBU) serving as back-up. Starting at defensive tackle is Sr. Frank Okam (28 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 12 QBH, 4 PBU), with Sr. Thomas Marshall (4 tackles, 4 QBH, 2 PBU) and So. Ben Alexander (6 tackles, 1 QBH) in reserve roles. Lokey and Okam are excellent veterans that do a great job of filling the running gaps.

LB: Texas' linebacking corps is quite good and full of veteran starters. Starting at MLB is Jr. Rashad Bobino (40 tackles, 4 QBH), with So. Jared Norton (39 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 QBH) backing him up. At SLB is Sr. Robert Killebrew (34 tackles, 1 QBH), while So. Sergio Kindle (11 tackles, 1 QBH) and RFr. Dustin Earnest (3 tackles, 1 FR) are his top reserves. At WLB, Sr. Scott Derry (40 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 2 QBH, 1 PBU) starts, while So. Roddrick Muckelroy (31 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR) is his back-up. This unit is all about experience, as Bobino has started 34 games, Killebrew has started 30, and Derry has put in 18 career starts. This group is solid against the run, and does a fine job in coverage. Kindle missed multiple games due to suspension earlier this season, which has slowed his production, but Muckelroy and Norton are both having quality seasons as reserves.

DB: The Longhorns' defensive backfield has done a good job after losing 3 starters from last season. They are in the middle of the nation in passing yards given up, but do a nice job of forcing mistakes, which has made their pass efficiency defense among the nation's best. Starting at cornerback is Jr. Ryan Palmer (57 tackles, 2 FF, 11 PBU) on the right and Sr. Brandon Foster (45 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FR, 10 PBU) on the left. Top reserves at corner include So. Deon Beasley (16 tackles, 2 INT, 5 PBU), RFr. Chykie Brown (9 tackles), and RFr. Curtis Brown (11 tackles, 1 PBU). At safety, Sr. Marcus Griffin (55 tackles, 3 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 QBH, 2 PBU) is the starter at free safety and Sr. Erick Jackson (48 tackles, 2 PBU) starts at strong safety. Top backups include Sr. Drew Kelson (20 tackles, 1 QBH) and So. Ishie Oduegwu (7 tackles, 1 PBU). Texas' opponents are completing 57.5% of their passes, which is a little higher than the Longhorn's would like.

Texas Special Teams

The Texas special teams units have not been very good this season. The Longhorns rank 109th in net punting (31.57 yd avg), 58th in punt returns (9.27 yd avg), and 29th in kickoff returns (23.35 yd avg).

K: Jr. Ryan Bailey is having a solid year, connecting on 11 of 14 field goal attempts, with a 52 yard long. On kickoffs, So. Hunter Lawrence is averaging just 63.4 yards, with only 10 of his 54 kickoffs going for a touchback.

P: Sr. Justin Moore is the Longhorns' top punter, but isn't having a great season. He has punted 15 times for an average of 39.9 yards this season. 5 of his 15 punts have been downed inside the opponents' 20. So. Trevor Gerland has punted 15 times for an average of 37.7 yards this season. Just 1 of his 15 punts has been downed inside the opponents' 20.

: The Longhorns' return game has been pretty solid this year. Jr. Quan Cosby (22 kick returns, 24.6 yd avg) and Jr. Chris Ogbonnaya (2 kick returns, 19.5 yd avg) make up the first-team kick return unit. Jr. Quan Cosby (14 punt returns, 9.6 yd avg) is also Texas' top punt returner.

Coverage: Texas' kick coverage team has been decent this season, allowing an average of 20.7 yards on 44 kickoff return attempts. Punt coverage has been poor, with opponents averaging only 14.5 yards on 12 punt returns. Texas has given up both a kick return and punt return for touchdown, both to Kansas State.

Nebraska Offense

Nebraska's offense has continued to be a predictable mess since Big XII play opened that is struggling to put points on the board. Entering their 9th game of the season, Nebraska ranks 34th nationally in total offense (422 ypg), 29th in passing (270.38 ypg), 36th in pass efficiency (133.07 rating), 65th in rushing (151.63 ypg), 63rd in scoring offense (26.63 ppg), and 106th in turnover margin (-1.13).

QB: Sr. Sam Keller (182 for 290, 1849 yds, 12 TDs, 10 INTs) has a strong arm, but hasn't been the most accurate passer this season. Much has been said about his strong arm, however, hasn't thrown many deep balls lately. He tends to force plays that aren't there, which has resulted in many of his interceptions and also has thrown his share of bad passes. His line hasn't always given him the best blocking effort and his receivers drop their share of passes as well. When Keller is on his game, he can tear opposing secondaries apart, but he hasn't been close to that since before Big XII play started, 5 weeks 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 stable of running backs is talented and fairly deep. Jr. Marlon Lucky (146 carries, 721 yds, 6 TDs) starts for the Huskers, but lately has seen more passes come his way rather than hand-offs. Lucky is a quick back that isn't a tackle breaker, but is tough to catch once beyond the line of scrimmage. TFr. Quentin Castille (59 carries, 284 yds, 4 TDs) is a bruising runner, and has seen his carries increase as of late. He has had some issues with fumbling, however. TFr. Roy Helu (29 carries, 133 yds) is a speed back that has also seen his number of carries increase lately. Jr. Cody Glenn (26 carries, 86 yds, 2 TDs) is a power rusher has had issues staying healthy, and that has helped push him down the depth chart. Lack of strong blocking from the line has hurt this group's production. In addition to leading the team in carries and rushing yards, Marlon Lucky (49 catches, 388 yds, 1 TD) also leads the team in receptions and receiving yards. Cody Glenn (6 catches, 52 yds), Roy Helu (3 catch, 28 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.

: The Huskers' receivers are talented, but inconsistent from game to game. Dropped passes and mediocre yards after catch numbers have helped stunt the growth of the Nebraska offense this year. Starting at Z is Sr. Terrence Nunn (23 catches, 270 yds), who has really struggled this season. Behind Nunn is Sr. Frantz Hardy (9 catches, 142 yds), a speedy receiver that rushed for 19 yards last week on a reverse. Starting at X is Jr. Nate Swift (23 catches, 296 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 top threat, but doesn't see the field nearly enough. Jr. Todd Peterson (10 catches, 169 yds, 2 TDs), Sr. Dan Erickson (5 catches, 52 yds), So. Menelik Holt, and TFr. Niles Paul (1 catch, 6 yds) are also receivers that see action. Starting at TE, or H-Back in the Nebraska terminology, will be Sr. Sean Hill (14 catches, 262 yds, 3 TD). Hill has been a nice surprise for the Huskers this year. 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 very leaky over the course of the 2007 season. This was supposed to be one of the best lines at Nebraska in years, but their on-field performances haven't shown it. Rush blocking has been poor, with limited running room to run, and pass protection hasn't been much better. Injuries are starting to take their toll as well, as Nebraska will now be without 3 of their season opener starters. On the season, they are allowing the backs 4.7 yards per carry which saw a slight incline last week. Starting at tackle will be Sr. Carl Nicks (6'5", 330 lbs) on the left and TFr. Jaivorio Burkes (6'5", 315 lbs) on the right. Burkes will make his first career start and career snap in place of the injured Jr. Lydon Murtha (6'7", 310 lbs). 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 Jr. Matt Slauson (6'5", 335 lbs) will likely start 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. So. Jacob Hickman (6'4", 285 lbs) will start this week in place of the injured Sr. Brett Byford (6'3", 300 lbs), while Sr. Jordan Picou (6'3", 300 lbs.) is will remain as the top back-up.

Nebraska Defense

Nebraska's defense is a disaster that seems incapable of stopping anyone. Teams have been able to run and pass on this team at will. The Huskers are ranked 105th nationally in total defense (457.38 ypg), 70th pass defense (230 ypg), 58th pass efficiency defense (122.05 rating), 115th rush defense (227.38 ypg), and 91st in scoring defense (31.88 ppg).

DL: Nebraska's defensive line has been pushed around all season long, and has lacked a competent pass rush. Opponents have been running right through this unit, chewing up 5.1 yards per rush, an unheard of number by previous Blackshirt standards. Jr. Barry Turner (18 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 QBH, 1 PBU) starts at open end and has struggled with his quickness after putting on too much weight in the off-season. Starting at base end is Jr. Zach Potter (36 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 QBH, 1 PBU), who is playing the best ball on the line. Top reserves are Jr. Clayton Sievers (6 tackles, 1 QBH) and Sr. Andy Poulosky (6 tackles) at open, in addition to RFr. Pierre Allen (5 tackle, 1 PBU) at base. Starting at nose tackle is Jr. Ndamukong Suh (24 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 QBH, 1 BK), with Jr. Shukree Barfield (10 tackles) performing back-up duties. Suh has great measurables, but has yet to play four consecutive, solid quarters of football. So. Ty Steinkuhler (5 tackles, 1 FF), starter at defensive tackle has struggled with some injuries this season, which has kept his production down. Jr. Kevin Dixon (16 tackles, 1 INT) is his primary back-up and has done a nice job in his reserve role.

LB: Nebraska's linebacking crew was supposed to be among the nation's best this season, but has been a tremendous disappointment instead. The injuries sustained last week were almost absurd, with 4 linebackers now banged-up. So. Phillip Dillard (29 tackles, 1 QBH, 2 PBU) should start this week at MLB if he is healthy. Dillard shows a lot of skills and desire, which won him the starting position over Sr. Corey McKeon (51 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 FR, 2 QBH, 5 PBU), who had been a starter since 2005. Sr. Bo Ruud (42 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FF, 1 PBU), starter at SLB and Sr. Lance Brandenburgh (43 tackles), starter at WLB were both injured last week and may not play this week. Depending on Brandenburgh's status, Sr. Steve Octavien (52 tackles, 0.5 sack, 6 QBH, 2 PBU) could assume the starting role at WLB, but SLB is less clear. Top SLB back-up TFr. Blake Lawrence (1 tackle) was injured in his first series of snaps last week and will not play this week, further depleting the depth at linebacker. So. Nick Covey (3 tackles) and So. Major Culbert (5 tackles) will likely be in the mix to take over for the injured Ruud. Octavien is the best athlete of the unit, but may be a bit too heavy to do all of the things he'd like to.

DB: Nebraska's secondary has also struggled this year. This unit has been shredded in multiple games this season, and doesn't appear to have a truly effective cover corner. Sr. Cortney Grixby (16 tackles, 2 INTs, 5 PBU) is in his fourth year as a starter at WCB. He has been playing the best football of this group, yet is just 5'9". He injured his thumb last week, but should be fine to play this week. Grixby's back-up, Sr. Zack Bowman (24 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH, 4 PBU), hasn't been consistent since his return from a pair of knee injuries over the past year and a half. Jr. Armando Murillo (43 tackles, 6 PBU) starts at LCB, with Sr. Andre Jones (11 tackles, 2 PBU) backing him up. Both Murillo and Jones are also struggling this season. At the safety positions, Sr. Tierre Green (32 tackles, 3 PBU) starts at FS and So. Larry Asante (47 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 (15 tackles, 1 FF) and Sr. Ben Eisenhart (16 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 started the season solidly, but have started to go downhill over the past few games. The Huskers are ranked 38th in net punting (36.94 yd avg), 104th in punt returns (5.92 yd avg), and 46th in kickoff returns (22.57 yd avg).

K: TFr. Adi Kunalic (1 for 1, 46 yd lng) handles kickoffs and long field goals. Kunalic has pushed 22 of 39 kickoffs for touchback, with a 67.5 yard average. RFr. Alex Hennery 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. He is averaging 41.2 yards on 33 punts with a long of 51. 10 of his 33 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 (12 kick returns, 22.2 yd avg) are the top kickoff return men. Cortney Grixby (7 punt returns, 5.1 yd avg) and Andre Jones (3 returns, 11.7 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 5.5 yard average on 14 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' Defense

Offensively, Nebraska has been seemingly stuck in neutral since they played Ball State on September 22. QB Sam Keller hasn't had a quality day since that game. Keller has been sacked twice in each of the last three games, which has made it more difficult for Keller to get into a rhythm. Keller hasn't been great at checking down his receivers and often stares down one man. The Huskers' receivers are typically solid, other than Maurice Purify; a difference maker has yet to emerge. In fact, RB Marlon Lucky has been Keller's favorite target this season and caught 13 passes against Texas A&M last week. Texas has a good defensive line that gets after the QB and a ball hawking secondary. Nebraska has played against poor pass defenses three consecutive weeks, and did not play well. The Longhorns will be the best secondary the Huskers have seen in a while, and it will likely be tough sledding to get a good passing game going. The Longhorns are allowing their opponents to connect on 57.5% of their passes, while Nebraska QB Sam Keller is completing 62.8% of his throws. Keller's numbers have been slipping, and Texas it isn't expected that this week will turn it around.

The Nebraska running game has been problematic since the season opener, which means 7 straight games without a strong rushing attack. Blocking has been the biggest reason why they can't get it going on the ground, and it won't get any better this week with a pair of new starters on the line. RB Marlon Lucky has seen his share of the carries diminish over the past couple of weeks, as freshmen Quentin Castille and Roy Helu. Castille and Helu have shown good field vision and will likely continue to see more of the load. Texas is giving up just 2.8 yards per carry this season, while Nebraska's running backs are averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The Longhorns will likely be able to shut down the Nebraska running game without a tremendous amount of trouble. Texas' defense is allowing opponents to convert just 35% of their third down conversions, while also allowing a great 69% success rate in red-zone scoring. Nebraska is converting a disappointing 44% of their third downs, and a continually declining 84% red-zone scoring offense rate.

Up front, Nebraska's average offensive lineman is 6'5", 313 lbs, while Texas' average defensive lineman comes in at 6'3", 284 lbs. With Nebraska breaking in a new freshman tackle, it will be interesting to see how he stands up to the Texas ends. Nebraska's line has not blocked well in any phase of the game, and Texas has been able to get good penetration from their front four this year. The Huskers have given up 11 sacks and 43 tackles for loss this season, while Texas has earned 58 tackles for loss and 18 sacks this season. Unless Nebraska's line improves radically, Texas should have their way up front.

Texas' Offense vs. Nebraska's Defense

The Texas offense has done a very good job at keeping balance this season. QB Colt McCoy has a very accurate arm, and good mobility, however has taken a beating in the backfield this year. He is completing nearly 67.3% of his passes, and is 76% in his last two games. McCoy should be safe from too many hits this week, as Nebraska's defense has not had a consistent pass rush all season long. Texas' receivers are very good, even without the injured Limas Sweed. WR Nate Jones is a great deep threat, and TE Jermichael Finley is another excellent target. WR Quan Cosby is a great possession receiver that will pose the Huskers' secondary trouble. With time to throw, McCoy should have a great day.

The Texas run game has been pretty consistent this year, not a crew that has been putting up tremendous amounts of yards, but has been effective nevertheless. With Nebraska's inability to slow down an opposing ground game, this could be a breakout game for RB Jamaal Charles. Last season, Charles ran the ball 9 times for 63 yards, good enough for 7 yards per carry. He should have a bigger day Saturday, and is likely to go over his 2007 per game average of 90.25. Nebraska has been missing many tackles and with the quickness of the Longhorn backs, a couple of missed tackles and they're gone. Nebraska allowed Oklahoma State to rush for 317 yards two weeks ago, and Texas A&M to run for 359 yards last week. Texas' third down conversion percentage is a pedestrian 47%, and a very average 79% 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 89% of their red-zone opportunities.

Texas' average offensive lineman is 6'5", 301 lbs, while Nebraska's average defensive lineman comes in at 6'4", 284 lbs. The Longhorns' offensive line isn't a great crew, but has done an adequate job this season. Teams have been able to get penetration this season and get after QB Colt McCoy. Nebraska has not been a particularly aggressive defense this season, rarely changing out of their base 4-3 package, and hasn't blitzed often. After 8 games, Nebraska has garnered 51 tackles for loss and just 8 sacks. At the same time, Texas has allowed 41 tackles for loss and 14 sacks through 8 games. Nebraska's defense is allowing an absurd 5.1 yards per carry this season and there aren't any signs of it getting better. Texas is averaging 4.3 yards per carry and should find plenty of running room this week.

Keys to the Game

For Nebraska to Win:
1.) Win turnover battle. Zero takeaways in past three games.
2.) Form a pass rush against a Texas line that has given up 14 sacks.
3.) New offensive linemen must find a way to play well together quickly.
4.) Third down conversion needs to improve dramatically.
5.) Eliminate careless penalties. This has been a problem all year.

For Texas to Win:
1.) Out-physical the Nebraska front lines. Nebraska hasn't performed well when they are hit hard.
2.) Get after Nebraska QB Sam Keller. He has trouble against a good pass rush.
3.) Eliminate turnovers. 3 turnovers last week against Baylor kept the Bears in the game.
4.) Challenge the suspect Nebraska secondary, getting the ball to your top playmakers.
5.) Cut down on penalties. 70 yards in penalties against Baylor last week is too much.

Position Advantages:
QB: Texas
RB: Even
WR/TE: Texas
OL: Texas
DL: Texas
LB: Texas
DB: Texas
Special Teams: Nebraska
Coaching: Texas

Injury Report

DT - Brandon Johnson - knee - questionable
LB - Blake Lawrence - questionable
LB - Lance Brandenburg - questionable
LB - Phillip Dillard - questionable
LB - Bo Ruud - knee - doubtful
C - Brett Byford - knee - out
OT - Lydon Murtha - toe - out for season
OG - Andy Christensen - knee - out for season
RB - Kenny Wilson - leg - out for season

LB - Antwan Cobb - knee - out for season
DE - Aaron Lewis - elbow - out indefinitely
FB - Luke Tiemann - wrist - out until early November
WR - Limas Sweed - wrist - out for season

Game Breakdown & Outlook

This is the 12th meeting between Texas and Nebraska. The Longhorns hold a 7-4 all-time record over the Huskers. Texas has won 3 in a row, and 6 of the last 7 in the series. Last year in Lincoln, Nebraska was leading 20-19 with 2:17 4th quarter. On a crucial 3rd and 3 at the Nebraska 36, QB Zac Taylor completed a pass to WR Terrence Nunn at the 45, before Texas' Aaron Ross forced a fumble, which was recovered by Marcus Griffin. Texas then drove to the Nebraska 5, and hit a 22 yard field goal with 23 seconds left. Nebraska had difficulty recovering after that loss last season. The last meeting in Austin was in 2003 and saw the Longhorns beat down the Huskers 31-7 in an uncompetitive game. Texas again appears to be a vastly superior team to Nebraska and is likely to win handily. An interesting note in this series is that no team has scored more than 31 in the previous 11 meetings.

Texas enters this game with a 6-2 record, 2-2 in Big XII play. They had some early season struggles, but finished non-conference schedule without a loss. Big XII play started with a pair of losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma, before getting back on track with wins over Iowa State and Baylor. Last week's game against Baylor, which finished 31-10 was much closer than the final score would appear. The game was at 17-10 midway through the 4th quarter, Baylor had the ball, but threw interceptions on 2 straight drives that led to 14 quick points for the Longhorns, securing the victory. Baylor was able to play close with Texas, despite rushing for just 8 yards. A win Saturday will help them with their record, but not much else. They will need to win out and have Oklahoma lose twice to get into the Big XII championship game. A loss would sting badly, and send the Longhorns their third conference loss, which would be the most since 1997.

Nebraska enters Saturday's game in Austin with a 4-4 record, just 1-3 in Big XII play. Nebraska started off hot against Nevada, before fizzling out. The defense started to show signs of being in trouble in game 2 against Wake Forest, having issues with tackling and has since been throttled offensively by just about everyone on the schedule. The offense really wasn't exposed until the Iowa State game about a month ago, but since then hasn't put much of anything together. Last week against Texas A&M, the Huskers were competitive for the first half, down 16-14 at halftime. The second half saw the Husker defense get blown up and the offense sputter out on the way to a 36-14 loss. They showed some emotion in the first half, but were completely flat in the second. Unless they play four quarters of football, there isn't a team out there they can beat. Amazingly, Nebraska has won 4 games this year, despite being out-gained in 7 of their 8 games. An improbable win over Texas this weekend could be what Nebraska needs to turn the season around, as they desperately need wins to get bowl eligible. A loss would continue the downward spiral they are on and would be the first time in Big XII history that Nebraska would finish 0-3 against South division opponents. It would also be the first winless October since 1948.

Nebraska's offense needs to become less predictable. It has become easy for defensive coordinators to prepare for situations, based on the personnel Nebraska sends on the field. Nebraska has lacked a powerful front line and it probably won't help this week that TFr. Jaivorio Burkes will get the start at RT, despite never playing a single snap this season. When an opposing defense is able to get into the Nebraska backfield, it is game over for the Husker offense. The Huskers' QB Sam Keller is not a good scrambler and without that threat, teams can pin their ears back and run over the Nebraska offense, neutralizing the rush and pass. Nebraska will not win another game this season playing the way are right now and time is short for improvements. Nebraska will need to run the ball to have a chance this week, but the line just hasn't shown they can put together four quarters of blocking. If Nebraska can't get Lucky, Castille, Helu, or Glenn running effectively, this game will be another behind the woodshed beating for a Husker team that has already had their share this season.

Texas shouldn't have much of a problem putting points up on the board Saturday. They hold match-up advantages with their quarterback and receivers over the Nebraska secondary, and their offensive line and running backs over the Nebraska front 7. Running lanes should be more frequent than RB Jamaal Charles has seen this season. Nebraska's defense has been easily fooled by misdirection plays and fakes, so it isn't out of the question for QB Colt McCoy to make a few plays with his feet. While McCoy doesn't have great speed, he has enough to keep Nebraska frustrated. Look for McCoy to have a solid day through the air against Nebraska's less than stellar defensive backfield. If he is able to throw with the precision he has over the past few weeks, the game could be out of hand by halftime. Jones, Finley, and Cosby should all have a great day. Nebraska's defense is possibly the worst in their school history, and teams have been taking advantage. Texas will do the same.

Texas isn't the force they have been in recent history, but Nebraska doesn't have the desire or leadership to take advantage. Nebraska will have to play mistake free football just to be close at the end of the game, and will have to have a lot of things bounce their way for them to be in contention to win. Nebraska appears to have cashed their chips in this season, and hasn't appeared interested in winning football games since they came from behind to beat Ball State back in September. Texas plays together and is sound in football fundamentals. Look for the Longhorns to put away the Huskers in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, giving head coach Mack Brown win #100 at Texas.

Nebraska - 17
Texas - 41

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