Key Points Needed to Claim Victory

The Huskers will face an efficient, mobile quarterback, Braxton Miller this Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.  Call it Pelini's kryptonite, but mobile quarterbacks are dangerous in college against any level of competition, and not just a team coached by Bo Pelini.  If the Huskers do nothing but prevent Miller from making plays and getting yards on the ground, winning this game is still not a guarantee.  Nebraska needs to focus on more than that to come away with a victory.  And if Miller is not contained, these other areas could be enough to pull away from Ohio State, or even put this game away late.

"Starting fast" or "slow starts" have been some key words in media questions and conference calls this week already.  The Huskers have come out overamped at the start of two major night games.  The routine of sitting in a hotel all day with nothing to do has left the Huskers with mistakes against opponents more than willing to take advantage of them.  The Huskers do not need a fast start on offense, they need a methodical one.  The Blackshirts do not need to be keyed in on stopping Braxton Miller, they need to focus on their assignments and keep the play in front of them.  The way this defense has used blitzes and schemes later in a game means that consistent, purposeful football at the start is more important than making a statement.  Intentional attempts to "quiet the crowd" lead to big plays going the other way.

For play calling and numbers, this means a few important things.  Number one is the run game of the Huskers against the Buckeye rushing defense.  Nebraska is averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground and will be facing a stout front seven that has limited opponents to 100.  It could be a game resting on the arm of Taylor Martinez.  A few hundred yards on the ground the first half is an unrealistic goal, but the team cannot stop trying to push forward.  The offensive line needs to exert its will and continue to try for running success well into the second half.

Turnovers can change the momentum of a game with a wild swing.  Giving away the ball can put pressure on your defense that cannot be sustained without buckling.  Those fortunate bounces that seemed to skip a ball the way of the Huskers against Wisconsin will not continue to happen through the whole season.  To counteract this, offensive players need to keep their ball security tactics tested and decision making issues in check.  But more importantly, the defense needs to take advantage of things like those errant passes that hit their hands or keep ready to pounce on a football when the runner hits the hole.  Takeaways in the most literal sense of the word turned the game around against OSU last year, no reason it would not make a difference this season.

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Comments 36 comments so far

Mark it down Ohio state 50 Nebraska 17

Not sure if you’re trollin’ here, but let’s take a look at this anyway.  The Buckeye offense is averaging 33 points/game.  That’s against the teams that are ranked 104, 45, 84, 115, and 12.  Nebraska’s number 36 in the country in Scoring D.  Against the comparably ranked UCF they scored 31.  The Huskers shouldn’t give up more than 30.  The Huskers have yet to score less than 30 against the teams that are ranked 100, 34, 87, 119, and 34.  Hmm, similar.  I’m not going to pretend this is going to be some kind of Husker “total destruction!” but I still think they can pull of the road win.  I’m leaning more towards 27-24 Huskers.

Miller is a good player but not unstoppable.  I see a turnover free game by the Huskers even though they are playing in a hostile environment.  Look for the same mix of plays NU displayed in the second half of the Wisc game.  Power run with some high percentage throws.  Nebraska will wear them down quicker than they did with Wisconsin.  NU 34, OSU 24

Hi Chip,
My take is that IF “Nebraska will wear them down quicker than they did with Wisconsin” then those field goals become touchdowns.  NU 38.  Agree Miller CAN be stopped, if we don’t trip over ourselves in the process.  I’m thinking 38-31.

It’s pretty clear that containing Miller and not turning the ball over will be the two critical elements in this one.  Miller is basically Ohio State’s entire offense and losing the turnover battle has been a problem for us for awhile now.  I hope we have a good plan for limiting Miller’s ability to improvise plays - the safety play is going to be huge in this one. Really, the best way to stop Miller is to keep him off the field and like HuskerChip said, a solid power running game and short throws that keep the chains and clock moving should be the strategy.

Ohio state was well on their way to scoring 40 on the huskers last year with a true freshman qb and Luke fickle as the head coach then miller got hurt you don’t think urban meyer isn’t worth a couple more points

Look, Braxton is a good quarterback, but you didn’t loose the game last year just because he got hurt.  Bauserman couldn’t keep a drive going, yes I know.  But your defense was not stopping us during the entire second half last year. 

The game plan for these two teams is nearly identical.  Keep drives alive to keep the opposing offenses off the field.  The only disadvantage that OSU has is, they do not have as many weapons as Nebraska has when it comes to offense.  Buckeye Defense is going to have to step up for the Buckeyes to have a chance at winning.

BTW, Nebraska invented the running quarterback.  Now we just have to invent a way to contain one.  :)

As a Buckeye fan, this OSU team has been an enigma.  We have seen glimpes of greatness interrupted by long stretches of ineptitude - in all 3 phases.  We see the potential in them to be a really outstanding team, but until they play a complete, consistent game, it’s just potential.  Last week @ MSU was their best showing to date, but it remains to be seen whether that represents a trend.  Bottom line tho is they have played 5 and have won 5.

What I see in Neb is defense, like OSU, that can play well for qtrs, but hasn’t been consistently good.  On offense if you don’t like Burkhead, you don’t like football. There are some nice receivers on that team. But TM’s ability to throw the ball this year is really huge and makes them a dangerous offense.  When I heard his throwing described as “skipping rocks”, I have to admit that I laughed, but how it looks does not detract from how productive the passing game has been.

Tom C gave us some nice stats.  There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  Lou Holtz says “You have a different team every week.”  The stats will say that a defense can’t stop the run, but that D will go out and shut down the best rush offense.  Football is about one on one matchups, talent, skill, coaching, luck, momentum, officiating, etc.  In the end, the team that plays the best and gets the breaks wins - as it has always been. 

No matter how we break a game down, we don’t know exactly what will happen - which is why we will all be watching Sat night.  I am hoping for a clean, well-played game with no injuries to either side - and may the team that plays the best win.

There must be a correlation between a higher than average number of running plays and higher number of fumbles that would explain our situation. This is not the first time it has been an issue for the Huskers. I remember having the way a ball is carried (finger over the point of the ball vs. split finger, etc.) dissected over and over during the Dan Alexander years and am sure everyone can recall others.  What are the number of fumbles per game for teams that have similar runs per game?

As for the TM throwing motion and going off subject, most throwing QB’s look like they could pitch in baseball as well. Pointing the lead toe at the target, and stepping into the throw. I would have him throw some pitches with a football to learn to lean into the throw for power and follow through for accuracy… Just sayin’...

I see slight progression in Miller as a quarterback. Yes he accounts for the big majority of OSU’s offense, but he is a mobile QB after all. I would be looking at a 1-4 Buckeye team if he didn’t!
What worries me about Nebraska is their use of screens and solid running game. OSU has had issues all year with giving up big plays to exactly that type of offense, and Nebraska will have the best players the Bucks have seen yet. It was easy to stop Sparty’s one dimensional offense, but the Huskers have multiple layers to their offense.
I think, in the end, Ohio State has just a little too much magic going on at home and they gut out a close win 24-17.

This is why I’m glad they play the game. There are so many variables in the game of football. I believe it could be raining Saturday night, wow that could put a wrinkle in the offences.

Totally agree.  CFB wouldn’t be near as much fun without all the variables.  The unpredictability of it is what makes it the best game around.  We fans try to talk ourselves into feeling good about our team.  These players are only kids or very young men.  Their inconsistency is part of their youth - and while we seem to demand consistency of performance from them, we rarely actually get it!

Yeah, I’ve got to say that this is one of the most exciting and frustrating things about college football.  The amazingly wide range of results that a single team can have in a season.  I use stats because those are numbers and as the season progresses, they get closer and closer to being near the average each game.  Right now they only give a fan something to think about without providing too much value.  This could end up being 49-17 either way depending on the bounces.  I just like to believe that as much as Urban Meyer is magical, he’s still dealing with year one of a team with questionable consistency and support around Braxton Miller.  I will leave with a couple obscure, possibly useless stats.  Bo Pelini’s Nebraska teams have only lost one October away game in regulation in four years!  However, they’re only 3-6 against ranked opponents on the road since ‘08.

Howard in CA, I just checked on teamrankings.com, and it looks like Nebraska is 2nd worst in FCS this year with 3.2 fumbles per game (tied with Arkansas, just behind Maryland’s 3.7). They are 11th with 46.5 rushes per game, and of the 10 teams above them, only Army also has at least 3 fumbles per game. Northwestern actually averages 4.5 more rushes per game, but only 1.8 fumbles. In fact, 5 of the top 10 rushing teams have fewer than 2 fumbles per game at this point, same as last year.

For comparison, last year fumbled 2.2 times per game, tied for 8th worst in FCS. They were also 9th in the nation in rushing attempts, but again, only Army fumbled more among the top 10 teams.

A running game certainly comes with the risk of fumbles, but Nebraska does seem to have a bigger problem than some other programs. And to me, it seems like a lot of those fumbles come on sacks and punt returns, so it’s not a running game issue so much as a general inability to protect the ball.

Tom, I don’t think stats are worthless.  I played the game through college.  They show you what you are doing well and what you aren’t in the context of who you have played.  I guess my experience is that it doesn’t translate that well to a specific match up of teams.  There are too many reasons for that to go into, but one would be that a stat can be misleading.  A team may appear to be so good at stopping the run because their opponents haven’t really tried.  So you get a team that is allowing 60 ypg that gets 350 rush yards put on them and everyone is shocked.

OSU’s D line is really, really good - and opposing coaches see that on film.  Early in the year the Buckeyes rushed 3 or 4 and played basic.  Opposing QB’s were taking 3 step drops max.  It was “one-two-ball gone.  As a result, there were no sacks and half of Buckeye Nation was worried to death about it.  Against MSU they stunted, blitzed, etc. and they were often in Maxwell’s earhole.  But if you look at the stats, there is nothing to be that concerned about with the OSU front 7.  If you look at the film, you will draw the opposite conclusion.  That’s where I am coming from.

I honestly don’t know how these teams will match up in the trenches and with skill players.  My feel for this game is similar to how I felt last week: it’s gonna be close. 

I have seen lots of comments questioning the OSU backs, receivers, etc.  You have to remember that Ohio State has recruited in the top 10 nationally for over 10 years.  Talent is never a question there.  Coaching, motivation, and performance is the question. Last year scandal was the biggest thing hanging over them.  :)

Urban is just getting started and they aren’t there yet.  You see glimpses of it.  They beat UAB by 2 TD’s and literally only played good offense for 6-7 minutes of that game, but those 4 drives were brilliant.  The rest of the game they were something between mediocre and inept.  Against MSU they played more in the acceptable to good range for all 4 qtrs.  But we see the potential in them to play between good and brilliant for a whole game.  When that happens, they will be an elite team. 

What are the chances that an elite OSU team will be playing sat night?  Slim.  But good might be good enough - or it might not.  Depends on what is happening on the other side of the equation with the Huskers and whether they play like an elite team.  Can’t wait to see what both teams bring.

For how bad i want 2 see Nebraska win. It’s hard seeing Nebraska win this game. They have yet proven they can beat a team with a mobile quarterback. Last year if Miller didn’t get hurt they would of won easy. Minnesota is the only team we really beat that had a mobile quarterback and they were just bad. Until they can find a way 2 do it, it’s going 2 be a ruff next three games possible. Hope I’m wrong

I will be very surprised if we win this game.  I think we are fully capable of winning but I expect us to lose the turnover battle and it will ultimately cost us the game.  Hope I’m wrong but my prediction is 35-20 OSU.

I suspect that OSU will have at least as much difficulty containg TMart, Burkhead, Ameer, Cross, Bell, Turner, etc as we will have containing Miller.  I’m sure Miller will be a force to be reckoned with, but I’m equally sure that our offense will be handful, and then some, for those big overweight OSU linemen to keep up with for 4 quarters.  If we can force OSU defense to run around a lot trying to catch TMart, Rex, Abdullah, etc laterally we will create holes to run through.  TMart may not be getting the National recognition (he deserves), but he is a formidable QB for any defense to contain, he runs like a deer and has one of the best passing stats in the country.  TMart will get free for lots of yards, so will Rex, Abdullah, Cross,Bell, Turner,and Company.  Our kids are high percentage yard gainers, any one of them can break open a game at any time, and there’s lots of them.  Bring it on…stop us, if you can, we’re coming to OSU, and we’re going to play good old fashioned Nebraska football. GBR

DennisR
I dont think we will be seeing old fashioned nebraska football anytime soon. The new thing nebraska does now is get 2 excited for a game and freak out and start out being 21 down or so. Also TMart has improved a lot from last year but he still has a lot of things 2 improve on. Like throwing further down field than 10 yards. He struggled on that last week making passes and seems 2 against better teams. Nebraska is still out 2 prove 2 people that TMart is a pro passer 2 teams instead of sticking with what we do best and thats running the ball over and over wearing teams out. Hopefully we can pull this one out this weekend but I still see Ohio State winning by 2 touchdowns or more. Hope im wrong GBR.

DENNIS R, THERE’S ONLY ONE OVERWEIGHT LINEMAN ON THE BUCKEYE D LINE, AND HE IS A FUTURE 1ST ROUNDER PER ALL OF THE EXPERTS.  NATE WILLIAMS DIDN’T PLAY LAST YEAR, AND HE WAS THE MOST TALENTED PLAYER ON THE D LINE.  HE WAS OUT WITH A MICRO FRACTURE OF THE KNEE.  URBAN HAS HIS TEAM IN MUCH BETTER SHAPE THAN THE PREVIOUS SEASON.  IF YOUR BIG FAT O LINEMAN CAN BLOCK THE D LINE, YOU WILL WIN THE GAME. I’M BETTING THEY WON’T.

If you feel that Braxton is all of the offense, you could be suprised. Carlos Hyde had a great game against NU and mysteriously was not utilized in the 2nd halve.  Devin Smith is a great deep threat, and Stoneburner had a good game against the huskers last year.  Both offenses have a lot of weapons, but some of the offensive numbers NU put up were against BCS teams.  I can’t wait to see how it plays out.  On a side note, how effective would NU’s offense be if Martinez gets hurt and leaves the game?

@Buckeye Mike
Troll. Good luck.

@BUCK MIKE:
how effective would NU’s offense be if Martinez gets hurt and leaves the game?
Depends in part on whether we play our Cereal Killer RKIII or we burn The StrongArms redshirt.  In a run game, RKIII can hand off and pass.  StrongArm can run and throw, just needs to learn the system more, that’s why he’s redshirted.
Also can’t ignore the multiple running backs and receivers.
Burkhead can do wildcat.  Jamal Turner was a QB and has practiced at QB last year.  They might have some special plays for him.

Linemen by definition are generally Big, and Strong, and usually weigh around 300 pounds,  are not particularly fast, and do tend to wear down and slow down as the games progress.
Any team’s Defense tends to wear down when they’re on the field too long, mostly because they’re Overweight and more suited to weightlifting than chasing down speedy running backs and quarterbacks.  What’s wrong with 10 yard passes, other than they’re hard to defend against, open up rushing lanes, and wear down defenses, not least keeps the opponents offense off the feild ?
Taylor’s stats speak for themselves, 68% completion rate, don’t sell him short on his ability to either run, or pass….on second thought, please do.
It looked to me as though OSU had it’s hands full against the Sparties last week but, I suspect they’ll be wearing their best Buckeye helmets on Saturday night.  How many Buckeyes can you get on a helmet anyway?  Just wondering.

Miller’s fantastic.
Has the Corn’s D matured, gelled, coalesced, or whatevered themselves enough to beat him? I’m a bit concerned, especially with the ‘backers and safeties.
Pelini’s made his reputation, in part, by dealing with an offense like this- now run by one of it’s masters.
Physically, Nebraska acclimated to the new culture. They showed that well enough Saturday, once they got over the “shakes” and played ball.
Now, personally, I have no doubt THE Ohio St (do they still use that?) would have won last year, had Miller not gotten hurt. But now, Nebraska’s offense is stronger and faster. The defense, though… It could go like that night in Pasadena, again.
Superman’s back, though! But with a knee brace.

Dennis, MSU is a good team, I feel they are more talented than Wisky this year.  tOSU played a good game on the road against a ranked opponent and came home with a win, despite 3 turnovers.  Two of NU’s games have been against 1AA schools, so you can throw out those stats.  I agree that NU’s offense is better, they have a lot of weapons, so do the bucks.  Should be a great game and this TROLL can’t wait to watch it. 

Ancient sailor, if you don’t want fans from other schools on your site, then do something about it,  A-hole.

Buckeye Mike, that’s not how we roll around here.  All are welcome to comment, but let’s keep it civil.  Goes for Buckeye and Husker fans alike.

Two AA? Troll

I’m looking to talk about the football game with NU fans, but I won’t take kindly to being called a troll.  I treat others as they treat me, and you just had another rocket scientist respond, kk.

Just read an article on Neb OL Choi in the Columbus Dispatch.  Naturalized citizen who came for Korea at age 8.  Went to Lincoln because a family member was a researcher at the univ.  Went to Lincoln Christian and began to play football.  Walked on at Neb and is now a starter.  Gotta love stories like that.

He will face Jon Hankins and John Simon among others, but those 2 guys are a handful for anyone.  Jon might be fat, but I wouldn’t say that to his face!  He’s an NFL first rounder.  Ohio State rotates 8 guys in there.  Fatigue has not been a problem.

What has been a problem is exposive plays in the passing game against a spread offense.  Actually, Maxwell in the pro-style found open guys 20 yards downfield last sat.  That’s the soft spot in the Ohio State defense.  But the D line can help out the coverage guys if they are pressuring Martinez - but you can’t be too aggressive and give him running lanes or he’s gone. I think that’s where the game is won or lost.  Both teams will score.  I will guess that the first one to 30 wins.

Nice comment WinOSU, I worked out at the same fitness center Choi did in Lincoln, while he was in HS.  He is a large young man.  Linebacker has been an area of concern for the buckeyes all year, especially the middle linebacker.  Grant has not been the answer, and I’m not sure Klein is quick enough to cover Martinez, Burkhead, etc.  Bryant will need to step up and make tackles, not misses, as he did in Lincoln last year.

Given the more spread nature of Neb, there probably won’t be a MLB in there much.  They will replace him with O Johnson or Doran Grant.  If Neb finds success running the ball between the tackles, that will put Fickell in a pickle - because if he puts Klein or Grant in there, the pass coverage will suffer.  The game within the game.

Nate Williams didn’t play in this game last year, and Shazier only played situational pass rush, so they should help out. more this year.  Have to keep Martinez, and Abdullah to short not long gains.  Secondary will need to play the best game of the year.  Don’t see this as a low scoring game.

Just wanted to stop by and say that I hope your fans have a great experience in the Shoe and at any tailgates they might attend.  I wont say “good luck”, because my Bucks may need every bit of that to beat a team as good as yours.  I have always found the vast majority of HUSKER fans to be a class act (we all have our own exceptions) and want to extend a Buckeye welcome to you all.  Here’s to a clean game, free of injury for all, and a special experience for fans.

Welcome to the Big Ten.  You make our conference better.

P.S.  Please overlook that three percent of obnoxious OSU fans.  They sometimes seem like fifty percent.  If you just cant overlook em, feel free to punch them in the nose.

Be safe on your journey to and from the game!

@Clinton     Gotta love those 3%ers.  Almost got arrested in downtown Lincoln a few years back for silencing one of ours lol.  There’s no place for that and personally I think that’s the only reason I got let off with a warning.

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