College Football

Path to Victory : Nebraska vs. Northwestern

First of all, the PtV wants to give a big thanks to Taylor Venema for filling in last week while I travelled around Japan desperately, futilely, trying to find a Husker watch site. While I won’t rehash the Wisconsin loss, I will totally rehash the Minnesota win; how good did Nebraska look last week? The Huskers were finally able to put together a complete game on offense and a….spirited effort on defense on the way to their best win of the year. Plus, did you see Nebraska out-coach Jerry Kill? It’s been a while.

But it’s a new week, Husker faithful! The uniquely named Northwestern Wildcats come to Lincoln giving the Huskers a chance, for the first time this year, to have a winning streak. Northwestern (who has the best Big Ten Coaches commercial, by the way) started the season 5-0 with impressive wins over ranked opponents Stanford, Duke and pre-season Big Ten West darling Minnesota. The last two weeks for the Wildcats, however, have been less than ideal. NW quarterback Clayton Thorson will be looking to bounce back after a pair of bad performances and running back Justin Jackson will look to get untracked versus the Huskers. I don’t see the latter happening against this defense but the former is entirely possible. How can Nebraska build off of their impressive win and keep the ‘Cats on a skid? You know we have the answers for you right here.

Ride the Newby Train

Haters will, in fact, hate on Nebraska I-back Terrell Newby but the coaches love the kid. I’m guessing we saw one of the reasons last week.  He’s got speed to burn, has become a very effective pass-catcher and is heads above the other backs in blitz pick-up. You’d like to see him break more tackles but he’s the clear-cut number one while he’s healthy. Look for the Offensive Coordinator Danny Langsdorf to lean heavily on Newby especially considering Northwestern’s impressive pass defense.

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Knock Down, like, 5 Passes

Nebraska’s pass defense in 2015 has been lackluster. And I almost feel like I need to apologize to the word ‘lackluster’. Thorson isn’t the most dynamic quarterback in the Big Ten but he’s not as bad as Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner who had a career day against Nebraska. The Huskers were much better in the second half against Leidner but they can’t afford to get behind against Northwestern. Keep generating turnovers, get in good position against NW’s talented receivers and come out with a comfortable victory.

Keep the Penalties Down

Nebraska only had two penalties against Minnesota and, really, only one can be blamed on any players.  Newby’s holding play on the 99-yard drive didn’t end up costing Nebraska on that drive but, even if it had, one penalty won’t kill a team.  Twelve penalties…that’ll hurt your chances especially in a close game.  Nebraska and Northwestern have typically kept things pretty close over the last few years and a mistakes, like penalties, could be the difference.

Prediction :

Nebraska 38 – Northwestern 20

 

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