1. Run the Ball
Why do the Nebraska coaches feel the need to fix things that are not broke?
Against Minnesota, for instance, the Huskers continuously tried passing the ball with a quarterback that was struggling to do that. Beyond that, the Gophers were ready for Nebraska to pass.
When the Huskers focused on the run game, things started to fall into place.
There's a good possibility that a lot of hesitation to run was a result of quarterback Taylor Martinez's toe injuries. However, Martinez showcased his ability to move the ball on the ground with a 35-yard run late in the third quarter.
That was also the first play designed for Martinez to run. Yet, it took three quarters to make it happen.
Plus, when a team has a player like I-back Ameer Abdullah, there is no excuse not to use him.
Abdullah is only 19 yards from 1,000 rushing yards. Hopefully Saturday brings him the numbers he needs and the success the Huskers need.
2. Stop the Run
On the other hand, the Nebraska defense needs to figure out how to stop Northwestern's running game.
In Monday's press conference, head coach Bo Pelini admitted that a couple of guys continuously had busted coverage. Those mistakes allowed Minnesota to find holes to run through. Had Nebraska been able to contain the Gophers, a lot could have been different.
This is now going to be a sensitive topic for the Huskers going forward.
Against Iowa, Northwestern was able to rush for 225 yards—that was without star running back Venric Mark.
The Huskers' excuses on defense are gone. This team must stop the run. If it is unable to do that, it will be a long November.
In 2012, the Huskers were plagued with turnovers against Northwestern.
Nebraska lost the football a total of three times while in Evanston last year. Two were on punt returns, while one was a lost fumble on offense.
Those turnovers allowed Northwestern to take a 28-16 lead. The Huskers then had to battle back.
By the end of the game, Nebraska came out victorious 29-28.
The year prior, in 2011, Nebraska also lost two fumbles to Northwestern. The Wildcats went on to win that on 25-21.
Needless to say, turnovers are an issue for Nebraska, especially against Northwestern. There is no need for déjà vu.
Preventing turnovers could truly make the difference in what is expected to be a close game.