Nebraska vs. Kansas Game Preview

Check out our latest game preview as the Huskers travel to Lawrence to take on the Top 10 Kansas Jayhawks.

November 3rd, 2007
11:30 AM CT
Fox Sports Net
Lawrence, KS

NEBRASKA (4 - 5) (1 - 4)
#8 KANSAS (8 – 0) (4 - 0)

Gametime Weather:
Weather Report for Nebraska vs. Kansas

Latest Line - Kansas by 20.


9/1/07 - vs. Central Michigan - W 52-7
9/8/07 - vs. SE Louisiana - W 62-0
9/15/07 - vs. Toledo - W 45-13
9/22/07 - vs. Florida International - W 55-3
10/6/07 - at. Kansas State - W 30-24
10/13/07 - vs. Baylor - W 58-10
10/20/07 - at Colorado - W 19-14
10/27/07 - at Texas A&M - W 19-11

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
10/27/07 - at Texas - L 25-28

Player Breakdowns

Kansas Offense

The Jayhawk offense has been excellent this season, utilizing a balanced attack to keep their unblemished record.  Entering their ninth game, Kansas ranks 11th nationally in total offense (479.38 ypg), 31st in passing (264.38 ypg), 15th in passing efficiency (146.13 rating), 14th rushing (215 ypg), 5th scoring offense (42.50 ppg), and 3rd in turnover margin (+1.38 pg).  

QB: So. Todd Reesing (150 of 253, 1985 yds, 17 TDs, 4 INTs) has taken the starting job this season and run with it.  Reesing is just 5'11", but has very good mobility that allows him to move around the pocket to find a passing lane.  He does a good job of taking care of the football and doesn't make mistakes often.  Reesing is completing just under 60% of his passes, and his 17 touchdowns to 4 interceptions ratio is among the best in the Big XII conference, however, most of those touchdowns were against their dough-boy soft non-conference schedule.  Reesing hasn't thrown a pick in his last 93 attempts.  He has rushed for 193 yards on 66 carries with 1 touchdown.  Last season's starter, So. Kerry Meier (15 of 19, 130 yds, 2 TDs) now serves as Reesing's backup, and there isn't much of any drop-off if he has to play.  He has rushed for 60 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown.  To get his talents onto the field, he also plays wide receiver.

RB: The Kansas running back group has been led by a duo of excellent backs in Sr. Brandon McAnderson (102 carries, 688 yds, 9 TDs) and So. Jake Sharp (105 carries, 617 yds, 6 TDs).  McAnderson rushed for a career high 183 yards last week against Texas A&M.  He is rushing for an outstanding 6.7 yards per carry this year, while Jake Sharp is rushing for an also impressive 5.9 yards per carry.  McAnderson is a big back and will play at fullback on the occasions that one is utilized in the Jayhawk offense.  Top running back reserves are TFr. Carmon Boyd-Anderson (24 carries, 91 yds, 1 TD) and RFr. Donte Bean (7 carries, 20 yds), and So. Angus Quigley (8 carries, 47 yds, 1 TD).  Jake Sharp (13 catches, 103 yds, 1 TD), Brandon McAnderson (7 catches, 83 yds), and Angus Quigley (2 catch, 14 yds) have been involved in the passing game, but only Sharp has caught a touchdown.  

WR/TE: Kansas has a good group of receivers, containing a good mix of guys with size and speed.  The Jayhawks' top receivers are Sr. Marcus Henry (32 catches, 585 yds, 3 TDs), Jr. Dexton Fields (28 catches, 400 yds, 3 TDs), and TFr. Dezmon Briscoe (21 catches, 270 yds, 4 TDs).  Henry is the best of the bunch, with his 6'4" frame and good speed.  Top back-ups include Jr. Marcus Herford (3 catches, 35 yds), So. Kerry Meier (10 catches, 70 yds), TFr. Tertavian Ingram (2 catches, 15 yds), and So. Raimond Pendleton (4 catches, 39 yds, 1 TD).  Jr. CB Aqib Talib (8 catches, 182 yds, 4 TDs) also plays some wide receiver and is a tremendous deep threat, averaging 22.8 yards per catch.  This is one of the better top-to-bottom receiving corps' in the Big XII.  Starting at tight end is veteran Sr. Derek Fine (30 catches, 279 yds, 3 TDs), with RFr. Bradley Dedeaux (1 catches, 11 yds) serving as his top back-up.  Fine has a great mix of blocking and receiving skills, making him a very valuable and versatile tight end.  

OL: The Jayhawk offensive line has done a pretty good job through 8 games this season.  The line has allowed for an impressive 5.2 yards per rush, an increase from last season's 4.8 yards per rush average.  This line has, however, given up 18 sacks and 38 tackles for loss.  QB Reesing might be mobile, but he can't escape from everything.  Last week, Texas A&M earned 4 sacks against the Jayhawks with an attacking front.  Starting at left tackle is Jr. Anthony Collins (6'6", 310 lbs), while veteran Sr. Cesar Rodriguez (6'7", 290 lbs) starts at right tackle.  Rodriguez is marking his 38th career start on Saturday.  Top tackle reserves include Jr. Matt Darton (6'6", 305 lbs) and RFr. Ian Wolfe (6'5", 280 lbs).  Starting at guard is Jr. Adrian Mayes (6'3", 305 lbs) on the left and Jr. Chet Hartley (6'4", 310 lbs) on the right.  Top back-ups at guard include So. Jason Hind (6'4", 285 lbs.) and RFr. Carl Wilson (6'4", 285 lbs.).  At center, Jr. Ryan Cantrell (6'3", 290 lbs) starts, with RFr. Sal Capra (6'3", 285 lbs) performing back-up duties.  

Kansas Defense

The Kansas defense has been outstanding this year, salty against the run and the pass.  The Jayhawks rank 5th nationally in total defense (263.88 ypg), 18th pass defense (186.38 ypg), 5th pass efficiency defense (93.76 rating), 6th rush defense (77.50 ypg), and 2nd in scoring defense (10.25 ppg).  

DL: The Kansas defensive line has been very solid this season, helping to lock down opposing rushing attacks.  They are giving up just 2.7 yards per carry to opponents while also earning 12 sacks as a unit.  Starting at defensive end for the Jayhawks is Jr. Russell Brorsen (18 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU) on the left and Jr. John Larson (29 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 FF, 1 FR, 2 QBH, 1 PBU) on the right side.  Top back-ups on the end include So. Jeff Wheeler (8 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FR, 1 QBH, 2 PBU) and TFr. Jake Laptad (15 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 PBU).  Laptad is a quality pass rusher, leading the team with 3 sacks despite being a reserve.  Starters at defensive tackle are So. Caleb Blakesley (10 tackles, 1 PBU) at left and Sr. James McClinton (33 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 QBH) on the right.  McClinton has earned 9.5 tackles for loss this season, the best of the defensive line, and second best overall for the defense.  Top back-ups on the interior include Jr. Todd Haslhorst (8 tackles, 2 QBH) and RFr. Jamal Greene (4 tackles).
LB: Kansas' linebackers are very good, playing well in rush support and in pass coverage.  Opposing running backs that might slip by the defensive line, don't typically make it past this crew.  Starting at MLB is Jr. Joe Mortensen (73 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 3 PBU), with TFr. Drew Dudley (6 tackles) backing him up.  Mortensen leads Kansas in tackles for loss with 11 and always seems to be in on every play.  Starters at outside linebacker for the Jayhawks are Jr. Mike Rivera (51 tackles, 1 sack, 2 FR, 1 QBH, 4 PBU) and Jr. James Holt (62 tackles).  Rivera is fairly large for an outside backer at 255 lbs, but he does seem to carry it well.  Top OLB reserves include So. Arist Wright (10 tackles, 1 sack) and RFr. Justin Springer (12 tackles).  The starting core of Mortensen, Holt, and Rivera are the top three tacklers on the team.

DB: The Jayhawk defensive backfield has also been quite solid this season.  Kansas ranks 9th in the nation in interceptions with 14, and 11 of those were produced by the secondary.  Kansas' opponents are completing 55.8% of their passes, which is pretty average for a defense.  Starting at cornerback is the excellent Jr. Aqib Talib (35 tackles, 3 INT, 9 PBU) on the left and Jr. Kendrick Harper (12 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR, 2 PBU) on the right.  4 of Talib's 9 pass break-ups were earned last week against Texas A&M.  Top reserves at corner include RFr. Chris Harris (33 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU), RFr. Phillip Strozier (4 tackles, 2 PBU), and Jr. Gary Green (5 tackles, 1 INT).  Harris started in the opening 7 games of the season as Harper was injured.  He performed well, especially for a freshman.  At safety, So. Darrell Stuckey (38 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR, 3 PBU) starts at free safety while Jr. Patrick Resby (20 tackles, 1 FR) starts at strong safety.  Top backups at safety include Sr. Sadiq Muhammed (13 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU) and So. Justin Thornton (20 tackles, 3 INT, 4 PBU).  

Kansas Special Teams

The Kansas special teams units have are all over the place.  The Jayhawks rank 100th in net punting (32.41 yd avg), 75th in punt returns (7.92 yd avg), and 1st in kickoff returns (29.89 yd avg).  

K: Sr. Scott Webb was having an excellent year until last week's game against Texas A&M in which he was just 2 for 5 in his field goal attempts.  On the season he has hit 13 of 17 field goal attempts, with a 48 yard long.  He has had one kick blocked this season.  On kickoffs, he is averaging 66.9 yards, with only 19 of his 64 kickoffs going for a touchback.

P: Sr. Kyle Tucker is the Jayhawks' top punter, but isn't among the best in the Big XII.  He has punted 27 times for an average of just 38.3 yards this season.  4 of his 27 punts have been downed inside the opponents' 20.  So. Kerry Meier serves as a reserve punter and didn't fare any better, punting 4 times for an average of 32.2 yards.  1 of his 4 punts was downed inside the opponents' 20.

KR/PR: The Kansas return game has been very good this season.  Jr. Marcus Herford (16 kick returns, 31.1 yd avg, 2 TDs) and So. Jake Sharp makes up the first-team kick return unit.  Herford is tied at the top of the nation for most kickoff returns for touchdowns with 2.  So. Anthony Webb (10 punt returns, 2 yd avg) and So. Raimond Pendleton (14 punt returns, 12.1 yd avg, 1 TD) are the Jayhawks' top options at punt returner.

: The Jayhawks' kick coverage team has been decent this year, allowing an average of 22.9 yards, while also giving up one touchdown on 44 kickoff return attempts.  Punt coverage has been very good, with opponents averaging only 3.4 yards on 11 punt returns, although some of this can be attributed to short punts.

Nebraska Offense

Nebraska's offense continues to struggle to string 4 quarters of football together.  Entering their 10th game of the season, Nebraska ranks 36th nationally in total offense (424.78 ypg), 21st in passing (275.33 ypg), 26th in pass efficiency (136.32 rating), 69th in rushing (149.44 ypg), 63rd in scoring offense (26.44 ppg), and 105th in turnover margin (-1 pg).  

QB: Sr. Sam Keller (205 for 325, 2422 yds, 14 TDs, 10 INTs) was hit hard in the fourth quarter of last week's game against Texas, breaking his collarbone and ending his college career.  Jr. Joe Ganz (3 for 4, 36 yds, 1 TD) will now take the reigns to the offense, making his first career start Saturday.  Ganz doesn't have the arm strength of Keller, however, has mobility, which is something Keller lacked.  Ganz came into the Texas game and made a play with his feet, and threw a touchdown pass.  Whether or not this makes any difference in the play calling will be answered on Saturday.  Behind Ganz is a bit of a question mark.  Jr. Beau Davis and TFr. Patrick Witt are battling it out for the top back-up spot.  Davis hasn't played since 2004 and Witt is still holding onto his red-shirt as of right now.  The Huskers will hope Ganz's play will provide a spark for the final three games of the season.

RB: Nebraska's crew of running backs is talented and deep.  Jr. Marlon Lucky (170 carries, 832 yds, 6 TDs) starts for the Huskers, is a quick back that isn't known for being a tackle breaker, but is tough to catch once beyond the line of scrimmage.  TFr. Quentin Castille (64 carries, 296 yds, 4 TDs) is a bruising runner, and their best option between the tackles.  He has had some issues with fumbling, however.  TFr. Roy Helu (34 carries, 147 yds) is a speed back that has some good agility as well.  Jr. Cody Glenn (27 carries, 78 yds, 2 TDs) is a power rusher has had issues staying healthy.  Lack of quality blocking from the line has hurt this unit's production.  In addition to leading the team in carries and rushing yards, Marlon Lucky (55 catches, 429 yds, 1 TD) also leads the team in receptions and receiving yards.  Cody Glenn (6 catches, 52 yds), Roy Helu (4 catch, 38 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) and Sr. Andy Sand (3 catches, 31 yds) share time.  Neither will see the ball very often.
WR/TE: The Huskers' receivers are talented, but haven't been as consistent as the team had hoped.  Dropped passes have hurt the Husker offense this season.  Starting at Z is Sr. Terrence Nunn (25 catches, 299 yds), who has really struggled to make plays this season.  Behind Nunn is Sr. Frantz Hardy (10 catches, 198 yds), who is probably the fastest receiver for Nebraska, and an excellent deep threat when he catches the ball.  Starting at X is Jr. Nate Swift (29 catches, 408 yds, 3 TDs), who has good hands and does a good job in traffic.  Sr. Maurice Purify (33 catches, 412 yds, 3 TDs) is Nebraska's top threat, but doesn't see the field nearly enough.  Other reserves include 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).  Starting at TE, or H-Back in the Nebraska terminology, will be Sr. Sean Hill (16 catches, 275 yds, 3 TDs).  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 mediocre this season.  This unit has not lived up to pre-season expectations.  Rush blocking was decent at times last week, but pass protection still has to be better.  On the season, they are allowing the backs 4.6 yards per carry.  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 made his first start last week and looked pretty good, other than a pair of false start penalties.  RFr. Mike Smith (6'6", 290 lbs) is the top tackle reserve for both Nicks and Burkes.  So. Jacob Hickman (6'4", 285 lbs) starts at LG, while Jr. Matt Slauson (6'5", 335 lbs) will start at RG.  RFr. Keith Williams (6'5", 310 lbs.), RFr. D.J. Jones (6'5", 310 lbs), and Jr. Mike Huff (6'4", 300 lbs) are Nebraska's top reserves at guard.  Sr. Brett Byford (6'3", 300 lbs) starts at center, while Sr. Jordan Picou (6'3", 300 lbs.) is the top back-up.

Nebraska Defense

Nebraska's defense in 2007 is probably the worst in their school history.  Like the offense, the defense seems incapable of putting 4 quarters of football together.  The Huskers are ranked 107th nationally in total defense (467.11 ypg), 63rd pass defense (224.56 ypg), 46th pass efficiency defense (118.61 rating), 119th rush defense (242.56 ypg), and 91st in scoring defense (31.44 ppg).

DL: Nebraska's defensive line has been very mediocre this season.  There has been minimal pressure off the edge, and opponents have been running right through this unit, picking up 5.4 yards per rush, a blasphemous number for a Blackshirt defense.  Jr. Barry Turner (20 tackles, 2 sacks, 7 QBH, 2 PBU) starts at open end and has struggled with his quickness after putting on weight in the off-season.  Starting at base end is Jr. Zach Potter (40 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR, 4 QBH, 1 PBU), who is playing the best ball on the line with 11 tackles for loss.  Top reserves are Jr. Clayton Sievers (6 tackles, 1 QBH) and Sr. Andy Poulosky (7 tackles, 1 sack) at open, in addition to RFr. Pierre Allen (8 tackles, 2 QBH, 1 PBU) at base.  Starting at nose tackle is Jr. Ndamukong Suh (25 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FR, 2 QBH, 1 BK), with Jr. Shukree Barfield (12 tackles) performing back-up duties.  Suh has great measurables, but has yet to play four consecutive, solid quarters of football.  So. Ty Steinkuhler (8 tackles, 1 FF, 1 QBH), starter at defensive tackle has struggled with some injuries this season, keeping his numbers down.  Jr. Kevin Dixon (16 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH) is his primary back-up and has done a nice job in his reserve role.

LB: Nebraska's linebacking crew was has been a tremendous disappointment this season, not coming close to their lofty pre-season expectations.  Sr. Corey McKeon (56 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 FR, 3 QBH, 5 PBU) will start at MLB this week, despite the fact that So. Phillip Dillard (30 tackles, 1 QBH, 2 PBU) is healthy again.  Dillard is a good young talent that has played well this season.  Sr. Bo Ruud (42 tackles, 2 INT, 2 FF, 1 PBU), starter at SLB, was not cleared to play this week and neither was top SLB back-up TFr. Blake Lawrence (1 tackle).  This means walk-on Jr. Tyler Wortman (3 tackles) will start at SLB this week.  Sr. Lance Brandenburgh (51 tackles), starter at WLB  suffered a season ending injury last week against Texas, which further thinning out the Husker linebacking corps.  Sr. Steve Octavien (60 tackles, 0.5 sack, 8 QBH, 2 PBU) will start at SLB, which is no problem as he is the best athlete of the unit.  The problem is with depth on the outside as TFr. LaTravis Washington, So. Nick Covey (3 tackles) and So. Major Culbert (5 tackles) will be looked upon to step up their play as reserves.

DB: Nebraska's secondary has also struggled this year.  This unit has been toasted in multiple games this season, and lacks a true lock-down corner.  Sr. Cortney Grixby (16 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 QBH, 6 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".  Grixby's back-up, Sr. Zack Bowman (24 tackles, 1 INT, 1 QBH, 5 PBU), hasn't been consistent since his return from a pair of knee injuries over the past year and a half.  Jr. Armando Murillo (50 tackles, 7 PBU) starts at LCB, with Sr. Andre Jones (11 tackles, 2 PBU) backing him up.  Murillo is really starting to turn into an effective player.  At the safety positions, Sr. Tierre Green (37 tackles, 3 PBU) starts at FS and So. Larry Asante (56 tackles, 1 FF, 1 QBH, 3 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 (20 tackles, 2 FF) and Sr. Ben Eisenhart (22 tackles) at FS, with Sr. Bryan Wilson (13 tackles, 1 QBH) at SS.  Thenarse is a promising young talent that hits like a freight train, but has let his aggressiveness get the better of him at times resulting in penalties.

Nebraska Special Teams

Nebraska's special teams have been pretty solid, except for the punt return game.  The Huskers are ranked 18th in net punting (37.88 yd avg), 104th in punt returns (5.92 yd avg), and 49th in kickoff returns (22.50 yd avg).  

K: TFr. Adi Kunalic (1 for 1, 46 yd lng) handles kickoffs and long field goals.  Kunalic has booted 22 of 43 kickoffs for touchback, with a 66.8 yard average.  RFr. Alex Hennery handles short field goals (6 for 6, 39 yd lng) and extra points.

P: Jr. Dan Titchener is one of the nation's top punters.  He is averaging 41.5 yards on 41 punts with a long of 52.  14 of his 41 punts have been downed inside the opponents' 20.  He has above average leg power, with solid consistency.
KR/PR: Nebraska's kick return game has been good; however, the punt return game is below average.  Seniors Cortney Grixby (32 kick returns, 24.9 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), Jr. Nate Swift (2 punt returns, 3 yd avg) and Andre Jones (3 returns, 11.7 yd avg) are the team's top punt returners.  Swift has made numerous mental mistakes while fielding punts over the past two weeks, which raises questions as to why he is performing that duty.

Coverage: Nebraska's coverage teams have been very good this season.  The kick coverage unit is allowing an average of 19.4 yards on 22 kickoff returns, while the punt return coverage team allows a 5.2 yard average on 16 punt returns.  So. Rickey Thenarse is the bullet for the unit, and has delivered some crushing blows.

Unit Match-Ups

Nebraska's Offense vs. Kansas' Defense

Nebraska's offense started to get back on track last week against Texas after playing four straight games with poor offensive showings.  Still, the wheels seemed to fall off in the second half, failing to take multiple opportunities to put the game away resulting in Texas coming back from behind and winning the game.  QB Sam Keller had a nice day against Texas, but broke his collar bone in the fourth quarter, not something Nebraska's already disastrous season needed.  Joe Ganz now has control of the offense and will be counted on to manage the offense and not make mistakes.  He will need to play great football, however, if Nebraska hopes to come out of their slumber this season.  The receivers are fairly solid, but a few of them need to step up and make big plays.  Maurice Purify and Nate Swift have been the best targets, but they aren't often on the field at the same time.  RB Marlon Lucky leads the team in receptions (55) and is just one away from Johnny Rodgers' record for catches in a season.  Kansas has a good defensive line that gets after the QB with quickness, rather than power.  The Jayhawks' secondary was awful a year ago, but has really been much improved this season.  Kansas is allowing their opponents to connect on 55.8% of their passes, which might make it difficult on new starter Joe Ganz that has limited playing time under his belt.  

The Nebraska running game has had issues since the season opener.  Nebraska started to look good against Texas last week on the ground before being unable to find any running room in the second half.  Blocking has been a big reason why they can't get it going on the ground for four quarters, and injuries certainly haven't helped their line either.  RB Marlon Lucky ran hard last week, with his fourth 100-yard game of the season, and freshmen Quentin Castille and Roy Helu are hard runners that are anxious to get more carries.  Kansas is giving up just 2.7 yards per carry this season, while Nebraska's running backs are averaging 4.6 yards per carry.  Nebraska must be able to find a way to effectively rush the football to have a shot in this game.  Kansas' defense is allowing opponents to convert on just 26% of their third downs, while also allowing just 62% success rate in red-zone scoring.  Nebraska is converting a disappointing 43% of their third downs, and a pedestrian 85% red-zone scoring offense rate.  Inability to convert on 3rd downs has killed Nebraska this season.

Nebraska's average offensive lineman is 6'4", 314 lbs, while Kansas' average defensive lineman comes in at 6'3", 266 lbs.  Nebraska has had their difficulties with smaller defensive fronts this season, and Kansas possesses a very good unit.  Nebraska's line really has yet to put together a complete game being dominant up front.  They have the talent there, but they just don't seem to like to get physical for four quarters.  Kansas can get good penetration with their front four, which could present some problems for Nebraska, especially with a new QB at the helm.  The Huskers have given up 13 sacks and 48 tackles for loss this season, while Kansas has earned 67 tackles for loss and 15 sacks this season.

Kansas' Offense vs. Nebraska's Defense

The Kansas offense is one of the most balanced in the nation.  QB Todd Reesing has done an excellent job of not making mistakes, which has helped Kansas win in conference this season.  He is completing 59.3% of his passes, and 66% in his last two games against Texas A&M and Colorado.  Kansas' receivers are very good, and have provided Reesing with some dependable targets all year long.  There is a good mix of deep threats and possession type receivers in this offense, which could cause Nebraska's defense fits if they aren't able to contain Reesing.  Wide receivers Marcus Henry and Dexton Fields, along with tight end Derek Fine have been the favored targets.  Dezmon Briscoe is also a solid threat.  The passing offense has not been as potent in Big XII play, however, as the Jayhawks scored 13 of their 19 touchdown passes against a very weak non-conference slate.  Nebraska blitzed heavily against Texas last week which disrupted their passing game.  Nebraska is playing with the nothing to lose attitude and we could see a good amount of blitzes this week as well.

The Kansas run game has been good this year, thanks to a thunder-and-lightning type combination of big back Brandon McAnderson and scat back Jake Sharp.  Nebraska is dead last in the nation against the run and has had trouble with both big and small backs.  Last week, Texas' Jamaal Charles rattled off 290 yards rushing, 216 of those coming in the 4th quarter.  Much of that was due to Nebraska playing a pass rush from cover zero.  Once Charles was past the line of scrimmage, there was no one there to tackle him.  McAnderson had a big day last week against Texas A&M, grinding it out for a career high 183 yards.  Nebraska does have some issues with tackling and both McAnderson and Sharp can burn them if they are on their game.  Nebraska has allowed their last three opponents to rush for over 300 yards in Texas (364 yards), Oklahoma State (317 yards), and Texas A&M (359 yards).  Kansas' third down conversion percentage is a mediocre 42%, and holds an average 85% red-zone scoring average.  Nebraska's defense has been awful on 3rd downs, allowing opponents to convert on 46% of their attempts.  They have also allowed opponents to score on 87% of their red-zone opportunities.

Kansas' average offensive lineman is 6'5", 301 lbs, while Nebraska's average defensive lineman comes in at 6'4", 284 lbs.  The Jayhawks' offensive line does a better job at rush blocking than pass blocking.  Teams have been able to get pressure on QB Todd Reesing, but quite a few times his feet have gotten him out of trouble.  Nebraska, who hadn't been an aggressive defense all season, brought the house on nearly every down last week against Texas.  After 8 games, Nebraska has put up 55 tackles for loss and just 9 sacks.  At the same time, Kansas has allowed 38 tackles for loss and 18 sacks through 8 games.  11 of those 18 have been in their 4 Big XII games.  Nebraska's defense is allowing an unacceptable 5.4 yards per carry this season and it is getting worse.  Kansas is averaging a solid 5.2 yards per carry and is likely to find some big holes to run through against the Huskers.

Keys to the Game

For Nebraska to Win:
1.) Win turnover battle.  Just one takeaway in past four games.
2.) Running game must be present for four quarters.
3.) Contain QB Todd Reesing.  Cannot allow him to get loose with his running ability.
4.) Minimize mental errors and penalties.  They stalled some promising drives a week ago.
5.) Third down conversions must get better.  

For Kansas to Win:
1.) Run the football at Nebraska.  Texas wore them down and ran rampant on them in the 4th quarter last week.
2.) Get in Nebraska's new starter at QB, Joe Ganz's face and make his first start stressful.
3.) Try to neutralize Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky.  When he isn't effective, the offense seems to plummet.
4.) QB Todd Reesing should continue to play mistake free football.
5.) Feed off an energized and sold-out crowd.

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

Injury Report

LB - Blake Lawrence - out
LB - Bo Ruud - knee - out
QB - Sam Keller - collar bone - out for season
LB - Lance Brandenburgh - shoulder - out for season
OT - Lydon Murtha - toe - out for season
OG - Andy Christensen - knee - out for season
RB - Kenny Wilson - leg - out for season

No injures to report

Game Breakdown & Outlook

This is the 114th meeting between Kansas and Nebraska.  The Cornhuskers hold an impressive 88-22-3 all-time record against the Jayhawks.  The teams have split their last two games, each winning at home.  Nebraska was victorious a season ago in thrilling overtime fashion, winning 39-32.  Nebraska's QB Zac Taylor hooked up with receivers Terrence Nunn and Frantz Hardy for 3 touchdown passes of 75 or more yards during the game.  The last meeting in Lawrence was in 2005, when Kansas snapped a 36 game losing streak to the Huskers by a score of 40-15.  The Jayhawks will be hoping for a similar game to that 2005 showdown.

Kansas enters this game ranked 8th in the nation with an 8-0 record, 4-0 in Big XII play.  Their non-conference schedule may have been the softest in the country, with games against Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo, and Florida International.  After blowing out those four teams, Big XII play started with a tough fought victory over in-state rival Kansas State.  After an easy victory over Baylor, the Jayhawks have had two very tough road games against Colorado and Texas A&M.  In both games, they had decent sized leads diminish to the point where both opponents had an opportunity to win the game with their last possession.  Last week's game against Texas A&M finished 19-11 and was at a 0-0 standstill until mid-way through the 3rd quarter.  The Jayhawk offense has not been very explosive the past two weeks, but they have still been doing enough to win.  A win Saturday keeps their BCS hopes alive and a 9-0 record.  Since they don't have Texas or Oklahoma on the regular season schedule, they could very well be undefeated heading into the Missouri match-up in a few weeks.  A loss would eliminate them from any national championship talk and ruin their best unbeaten streak in the modern era of football.

Nebraska enters Saturday's game in Lawrence with a 4-5 record, and just 1-4 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 was exposed against Iowa State game about a month ago, but since then hasn't put much of anything together.  The following game against Texas A&M showed Nebraska to be competitive for 2 quarters before falling apart in the second half.  Last week against Texas, a similar situation unfolded as Nebraska jumped out to a 17-3 lead before allowing Texas to score 25 unanswered second half points, ultimately losing the game 28-25.  Nebraska has been out-gained in 8 of their 9 games, and every game since the season opener.  A win over the Jayhawks would give Nebraska a much needed win over a top ten team and snap their 4 game losing streak.  A loss would be their 5th straight and probably end their thoughts of going to a bowl this post-season.

Nebraska needs to play four quarters of football, that's the bottom line.  The offense played well against the Longhorns last week up until their second drive of the third quarter.  They looked incompetent and were not able to effectively run or throw the football.  This was especially troubling due to the relatively high level of success they had prior to that point running against the Longhorns.  With a new starter at QB, this could either be the final nail in the season's coffin, or a glimmer of hope for a team that is desperate for a spark.  Kansas will want to get as much pressure on Ganz as they can to rattle him early and force him into errors.  If he doesn't get it done, then it becomes a big question of who Nebraska's second option is at quarterback, and how quickly coach Bill Callahan would go to him.  Nebraska will need to run the ball well to have a chance this week, but until the line puts together four quarters of adequate blocking, that might be nothing more than a pipedream.  Nebraska's center Brett Byford will have his hands full with Jayhawk lineman James McClinton and if Kansas gets into the Husker backfield, it could get ugly.

Kansas has a number of ways they can attack a defense.  The Jayhawks have a number of playmakers on their offense at all of the skill positions, but their production has been in decline in Big XII play.  Look for a lot of the zone-read option which has given Nebraska fits this season.  Nebraska's defense has not figured out how to stop it, or even slow it down so there is no reason that Kansas shouldn't run this with a high degree of production.  Running backs Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp should also give Nebraska's defense troubles, as McAnderson seems to be running harder as the season goes along.  QB Todd Reesing has the tools needed to exploit the Nebraska defense.  He's got good speed, a pretty good arm, and doesn't make many mistakes.  Nebraska has had trouble with comeback routes and the safety play hasn't been anything spectacular.  Tight end Derek Fine should have a solid day, possibly going downfield for a big play or two.  This is the worst defense in Nebraska's school history playing against one of Kansas' best offensive units in a long time.  If Kansas can't put up some good numbers, they have big issues.

Nebraska will have to move on from last weekend's heartbreaking loss to Texas and play with a high degree of emotion.  QB Joe Ganz will be looked at to provide a spark to set this offense on the right track.  No one really knows how good he can be, or what specifically he will bring to the table.  Nebraska's defense showed last week that they can do some good things, but defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove needs to understand how to mix up coverages and blitzes if they are going to compete for an entire game.  Kansas is riding an unprecedented hot streak for their program and they still have many critics to prove their worth to.  The stadium will be packed with Kansas fans for homecoming, so there should be no shortage of excitement for the Jayhawks.  Kansas should win this game, and would love to blow out the Huskers.  Nebraska will do some good things and make a game of it, but will come up short on the box score.  Kansas wins by a pair of touchdowns.

Nebraska - 17
Kansas - 31

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