The days of the regular season in college football are winding down....but college basketball is officially in full swing.
THE HOT LIST:
1. Nebraska/Kansas State Key Matchups
2. Husker Basketball Preview: St. Louis
3. Around the Big 12
1. Well we've come to the semifinal game to the big 12 title game. For both teams its pretty simple...win & you likely face Texas in Dallas December 5th...lose and your watching that game from your home in two weeks. To the Key Matchups:
1. Nebraska's Defensive Line and Linebackers vs. Daniel Thomas
K-State brings a different style of offense that Nebraska hasn't seen in the past few weeks....a power running game keyed by their highly recruited tailback in Daniel Thomas. Thomas quietly has been in the top 5 in rushing in the conference...he's a big back that keys the rest of the Wildcat offense. Like Nebraska, K-State prides itself on play action that allows their speedy small WR in Brandon Banks to get open. Suh and company are licking their chops to see a team wanting to pound the rock down their throats, but making sure tackles against this bigger back is the key. Last week Nebraska looked suspect in handling the job of bringing down Opurum...The change of style at running back made it difficult to bring the big back down. Nebraska must come in on his legs, and bring him down quickly with gang tackling and not let his momentum drive them back for extra yards.
2. Nebraska's WR's vs. K-State Secondary
This is a big matchup that Nebraska must win this weekend. Last week Nebraska showed that if they look for Niles Paul down the field he can make big plays in the passing game....but what if K-State locks Paul down this week...Nebraska must develop another legit threat down field and make the K-State defense think instead of react to the play. That'll keep those LB's off from lining up 3 yards from the ball and open holes in Nebraska's running game. Last week Denario Alexander showed that when a WR wants to take over a game against this team...it can happen.
3. Nebraska's Offense vs. K-State Defense:
Last week Nebraska rode its Offense for a nice win over Kansas. Can that offense be called upon again to show that it's making improvements each week. Nebraska simply has to establish Roy Helu and it running game to set up their passing game. Nebraska isn't going to get flashy on offense this season, they'll keep it simple but just need to execute with precision like they did in the second half against Kansas. Keeping your defense fresh will be a key element to game, so that means you must win the time of possession battle...you do that by running the ball to milk time off the clock. It sure worked in the second half against Kansas and surely is the key to a victory against Kansas State.
4. Nebraska's Kick Coverage vs. K-State's Return Game
This arguably the best aspect of K-State's game. They bring one of the best return me in all of college football in Brandon Banks. That poses some huge challenges for Nebraska as field position is a vital key to a win. I don't think Nebraska would like to find themselves starting drives inside their own 10 yard line on ever series. Containing Banks and limiting his big returns in the special team game will be key for field position and keeping momentum. You don't want to be ahead by two scores and have K-State return a kick to the house and change the momentum of the game. Playing your best on special teams will be critical for Nebraska.
Advantage: Kansas State
Prediction: Nebraska returns back to Memorial Stadium for its final home game to honor it's seniors. Players like Suh, Hickman, Holt, and Asante suit up for the final time in front of 86,000 people. Nebraska eats up Daniel Thomas all day, making it miserable for the big running back to get outside and rush the ball with effectiveness. Nebraska uses timely rushes and passes like they did last week to move the ball and put up points on the scoreboard. Nebraska sadly gives up a few big returns that make Kansas State feel that they are still in the game, but in the end Suh and company go out as champions in their final game in Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska wins 35-10.
2. Nebraska Basketball has started its season and travels to St. Louis tonight to face good ole Rick Majerius. Yes the former big guy on ESPN has been back in coaching for a few seasons. Its a huge gamble for Doc to take a very young and inexperienced team on the road in just their second game of the season, but win and win convincingly and you can gain some huge momentum heading into your showdown with USC in a couple of weeks. Keys for Nebraska are pretty simple, play good defense, keep your turnovers small, and take high percentage shots. I like Nebraska's size in this game, I think it'll give St. Louis all they can handle with Ubel and Diaz in the middle. Nebraska must use this game to develop a solid point guard, one guy who you know can handle the ball on the road well when the pressure builds. I think Nebraska gets a W tonight but doesn't necessarily does it in convincing fashion...this team is young and clearly I think as Husker fans we have to be ready to go through some growing pains with this young but talented team.
3. Once again as I wrap up this week, we go around the Big 12
Here's this weeks game:
Kansas @ Texas
Iowa State @ Missouri
Kansas State @ Nebraska
Oklahoma @ Texas Tech
Colorado @ Oklahoma State
Baylor @ Texas A&M
A few good to decent games on the slate this weekend with Nebraska/K-State battling out for the Big 12 North title...Texas looks to continue its path to the BCS title game. Oklahoma makes a dangerous road trip to Texas Tech, and Colorado looks for a positive on its awful season against Oklahoma State. Also Iowa State needs a win over Missouri to assure a bowl berth as 6-6 probably won't cut it this season.
Predicted Winners: Texas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, A&M
Last week's Record: 5-1 (83%)
Overall Big 12 Record: 26-10 (72%)
I'm out for the rest of the week to the ASHA conference in New Orleans...I'll return for our regular 3 blog days next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday....Till then...GO BIG RED!!!