Well last day as I promised with Thanksgiving coming up all too soon...
THE HOT LIST:
1. Nebraska/Colorado Key Matchups
2. Keeping Dan Hawkins
3. Around the Big 12 (Rivalry Week)
1. As we do every game I like to breakdown this week's key matchups that should dictate the outcome of the game....we shouldn't really waste anytime so lets begin.
1. Nebraska's Defensive Line vs. Tyler Hansen
It seems like every game we talk about these guys, but this week is no exception as Tyler Hansen brings that elusiveness element to his game that has given Nebraska fits in a few games this season. Remember how much Todd Reesing's legs gave Nebraska's front four trouble. This week Nebraska absolutely must keep Tyler Hansen in the pocket and when they have a chance to sack they must convert. He has shown that when given an alley to run, he'll make you pay. In a game where Nebraska appears likely to be the most dominate team on the field you do not want Tyler Hansen using his legs to give the Buff's hope that they can pull off a huge upset.
2. Nebraska's WR's vs. Colorado's Secondary
This is a matchup that Nebraska can take a serious advantage on. Colorado has struggled mightily at times this season stopping people from throwing the ball all over the field (i.e. at Texas and Oklahoma State). It doesn't mean that Nebraska will come out in the shotgun throwing all over the place, but it means that given a third and long you feel confident your TE's can get a nice mismatch to get the first down. Nebraska has developed a legit play maker that can run down the field in Niles Paul...his play will be key to keeping the Buff's linebackers back and allowing Nebraska to run the ball with authority. In order to stretch defenses you must be able to throw the ball a few times to establish you will take shots down field.
3. Turnover Battle
This has become a nagging problem for Colorado. In a few games that the Buffaloes were in games on the road to win, they have had a turnover that changes the game. In a game where your playing an opponent that really has nothing to lose and is looking at Nebraska as it's bowl game, you must force turnovers to put the crowd out of it. Nebraska came up with 2 timely turnovers that sucked the wind out of K-State last week. Nebraska can do the same on Friday if the defense becomes fierce and punches out a few turnovers that makes Colorado think they were close but not close enough.
4. Special Teams Play: Field Position
There's no question that if you want to win most games you must win the field position battle. Nebraska would like to have its offense on the field to only have to drive 40 yards or less each time just to score...it can spell a long long day for the opposition. Alex Henery has shown that at anytime he can change the game by booming punts deep down the field. Prime example was his late fourth quarter 60 yard punt that pinned K-State back on its own 3 yard line. This is a simple mental game Nebraska can play with Colorado, it gets mentally draining when you have to go 90 plus yards each time just to score. On a team that can after 8 losses really isn't that mentally tough, when you have a chance to drive in the nail...you must.
Prediction: Nebraska can really ill-afford to overlook Colorado. Bo Pelini has invested too much time to see his team try to just line up and run the plays to win. He knows what it takes to win and sees himself head back out to Boulder to see his defense yet again dominate in the trenches. They give Tyler Hansen fits that creates costly INT's for the Buffaloes. Colorado makes some nice early plays on defense to keep the crowd in the game, but eventually wear out after getting pounded by Nebraska new power running game. This leads to a few touchdowns in the second half that puts Colorado away and thus end a very disappointing season.
Nebraska wins 38-3
2. Announced earlier today, Colorado will keep Dan Hawkins after this season. As many people around Buffalo land think that he should lose his job simply after going 3-9 when he proclaimed going 10-2 this season. Look do I think he should lose his job, yes, in this day and age it's pretty simple...you win...you keep your job...you lose...your out and Dan Hawkins just hasn't done enough to keep his job. He's below .500 in conference play and just doesn't have signature win that he can hang his hat on. You have to win big games....and when recently when Gary Barnett had Colorado in the Big 12 title game, that clearly isn't the path of this program. He was a great story at Boise State and simply has shown that he can't handle it in a major conference. He'll likely continue to be on the hot seat until he wins a few key signature games.
Another reason why Colorado can't make a move now, simply comes down to dollars. This athletic department simply doesn't have the money to buy out his contract for 10 plus million. They are struggling now just to keep themselves from falling below Division I status as they are cutting athletic programs to stay afloat. They are an athletic budget in desperate need of one of it's athletic programs to succeed to draw in revenue it's losing every year. The economy saved Dan Hawkins this season, but go below .500 next year and fans in Boulder will be screaming for a coaching change....and next time they'll maybe get it.
3. As always we go around the Big 12....Rivalry Style
Here's this weeks games:
Texas @ Texas A&M (Thursday)
Nebraska @ Colorado (Friday)
Texas Tech vs. Baylor @ Dallas
Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma
Missouri vs. Kansas @ Arrowhead in Kansas City
Well Rivalry Week never seems to disappoint with a slew of good games. We start by watching Texas at A&M on Thanksgiving followed by Nebraska and CU on Friday. Saturday brings us the Bedlam Series at OU and the Border War in Arrowhead. Texas Tech and Baylor get to adorn the Dallas Cowboys Stadium for their game on Saturday.
Predicted Winners: Texas, Nebraska, Tech, OSU, Missouri
Last Week's Record: 5-1 (83%)
Big 12 Season Record: 31-11 (74%)
Enjoy your holiday weekend...ladies get out and shop on Friday....guys enjoy the weekend of football. Happy Thanksgiving and as always GO BIG RED!!!! Catch y'all next week.