BOULDER, Colo. - Nebraska may have wrapped up the Big 12 North last week with their 17-3 win over Kansas State, but in order to head into next Saturday's Big 12 Championship game on a high note they need to take care of business today against Colorado.
The Huskers come into today's game as a 10 point favorite over the 3-8 Buffaloes?as things get closer to kickoff today in Boulder, here are the five keys to a Husker victory.
Jump ahead early
The biggest early key for Nebraska is how they start. The last four games the Huskers have been able to jump up on Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State to set the early tone of the game.
When you are facing a team like Colorado that has nothing to play for but pride, Nebraska has the opportunity to kill their will early by jumping out on the scoreboard first. Especially when CU knows that points are going to come at premium against the Blackshirt defense.
No free one's
Turnovers haven't been a problem for Nebraska the last couple of weeks, but for whatever reason Colorado has the ability to force turnovers at the right time, which could play huge in this game.
Just as long as NU doesn't give CU's offense easy opportunities, it's going to be very hard for their offense to move the ball with much effectiveness. Colorado lacks playmakers at the wide receiver position. I don't see their wide receivers being able to do much against Nebraska's secondary.
Establishing Roy and Rex
Expect to see Colorado completely sell out against the run and force Zac Lee to beat them with his arm. The last few weeks NU has set their entire offense up with running game, which opens up the play action pass.
Between running backs Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead, I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them combined for 30 carries today. Burkhead used last week's game against KSU to get his feet back under him. I think he's ready for around 8 to 10 carries this week.
Containment on Tyler Hansen
Colorado's offense has been sparked at times this season by the play of quarterback Tyler Hansen. What impresses me about Hansen is his ability to create plays and also his great arm strength. In last week's OSU game, Hansen had some impressive throws against the Cowboys.
Luckily for Nebraska, they've seen mobile quarterbacks the last few weeks, so they shouldn't be too surprised by Hansen's ability to run outside of the pocket.
Don't think about Dallas
As much as everyone wants to think about playing Texas in Dallas next week, Nebraska needs to finish the job today. The Huskers can't afford a momentum killer in Boulder. A loss today would also give Dan Hawkins and the CU fan base a huge bode of confidence after it was announced he'd be coming back for a fifth season on Thursday.
I think head coach Bo Pelini has done a good job of keeping his team focused on CU, because in all reality they aren't good enough to just show up and win. Colorado has proven they can also play with just about anybody and last week's OSU game should've shown that to everyone.
I like the Huskers to win today in their typical defensive driven fashion. I don't see Colorado being able to move the ball on the Blackshirts for more than 250 yards.
Callahan's Prediction:Nebraska 23 Colorado 10
Season Record: 8-3 overall; 6-5 vs. points