KICKING THE TIRES: The University of Nebraska

KansasStateLeftNebraskaRight

Kansas State Wildcats (6-5 | 4-3) VS. Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-3 | 4-2)

The Big 12 North Championship
Nebraska Memorial Stadium - Lincoln, Neb.
Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009 - 6:45 PM CST

ESPN

 

After 11 weeks of strife and struggle, it comes down to this: One game separates us from either glory or disappointment.

Click the jump for my usual statistical/opinionated analysis. For more detailed information, see Corn Nation.

KEY PLAYERS

 

K-State

Passing
Grant Gregory (89 of 144, 970 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT)

Receiving
Brandon Banks (51 catches, 657 yards, 1 TD)

Rushing
Daniel Thomas (228 carries, 1,166 yards, 11 TD)

Wild Card
Josh Cherry (11 of 17 FG made)

 

NU

Passing
Zac Lee (136 of 227, 1,692 yards, 11 TD, 6 INT)

Receiving
Niles Paul (29 catches, 567 yards, 3 TD)

Rushing
Roy Helu Jr. (167 carries, 962 yards, 9 TD)

Wild Card
Ndamukong Suh (56 tackles, 13 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FF)

 

KEY STATS

Rushing Offense
K-State (31 | -8) > NU (57)

Passing Offense
NU (82) > K-State (105 | +1)

Total Offense
K-State (75 | +3) > NU (77)

Scoring Offense
NU (68) > K-State (75 | -6)

Rushing Defense
NU (11) > K-State (23 | -3)

Pass Efficiency Defense
NU (3) > K-State (75 | -15)

Total Defense
NU (10) > K-State (47 | -4)

Scoring Defense
NU (3) > K-State (59 | -14)

Net Punting
K-State (73 | +4) > NU (100)

Punt Returns
NU (40) > K-State (47 | -3)

Kickoff Returns
K-State (6 | -2) > NU (44)

Turnover Margin
K-State (19 | -13) > NU (59)

Pass Defense
NU (26) > K-State (90 | -7)

Passing Efficiency
NU (68) > K-State (78 | -2)

 

Analysis

There's no shading the fact that the numbers really don't favor us in this matchup — especially in light of the Wildcats' poor performance last Saturday.

To secure a win, K-State will have to press its advantage in a few key areas: rushing offense (against the No. 3 rushing defense in the country, though), total offense (our record is pretty clear — when we don't score 20, we don't win, with KU being the rare exception), net punting (don't be afraid to play the field-position game), kickoff returns (we've got to spring Brandon Banks loose at least once, because against that defense, good field position will be critical to scoring points), and turnover margin (simply put, we cannot turn it over like we did last week — duh).

So as I see it, the recipe for victory is no turnovers, finding a way to score by opening up the playbook and creating plays on special teams. Oh, yeah, did I mention don't turn it over?

I'm going to go ahead and join the rest of the nation in predicting a comfortable Nebraska win, in order to reclaim some of that reverse-jinx magic I had earlier in the season. We'll need all the help we can get, unfortunately.

At this point, though, I really don't care if we win or lose. Either way, it has been a successful season. I just want to see this team leave nothing on the field. This could be the end of their season — I want to see them play like it. And if Nebraska is to win, I want them to know they were in a dogfight first.

Prediction: Nebraska 21, Kansas State 8 (that's a safety and two field goals, BTW)

 

BracketCat's Projected Starters

QB: Grant Gregory
FB: Braden Wilson*
RB: Daniel Thomas

WR: Brandon Banks, Attrail Snipes, Lamark Brown**
TE: Jeron Mastrud
OL: Nick Stringer, Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert, Kenneth Mayfield, Clyde Aufner

DL: Prizell Brown, Daniel Calvin, Antonio Felder, Jeffrey Fitzgerald
LB: John Houlik, Ulla Pomele
DB: Troy Butler, Stephen Harrison, Tysyn Hartman, Emmanuel Lamur, Joshua Moore

*if we start with a fullback and two wide receivers
**if we start with three wide receivers and no fullback

 

Elsewhere in the Big 12...

The weekend kicked off in weird fashion with a turnover-plagued and mistake-filled exhibition of crap last night on ESPN, as Oklahoma State disinterestedly survived Colorado 31-28 at home.

Look for more of the same this weekend, as ours is the only game of real consequence.

Oklahoma and Texas Tech are playing for bowl position, and I'm not sure that will be enough for the normally mighty Sooners to avoid being upset in a city they have lost in before.

Iowa State at Missouri and Kansas at Texas both figure to be ho-hum wins by probably the most talented teams in their respective divisions.

That leaves Baylor at Texas A&M, the battle for the Big 12 South basement. Oh, yeah, give me some of that.

 

Oklahoma at Texas Tech (FSN)
Red Raiders 20, Sooners 19

Iowa State at Missouri
Tigers 31, Cyclones 22

Baylor at Texas A&M
Aggies 31, Bears 27

Kansas at #3 Texas (ABC)
Longhorns 29, Jayhawks 6

 

All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.

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