Nebraska Cornhusker's Season Preview: Week 5 Vs Missouri Tigers

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IJuly 25, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 1:  Quarterback Joe Ganz #12 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers attempts a pass during the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl against the Clemson Tigers at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium January 1, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Nebraska fans', the Cornhusker's have a shot in week 5 at a little redemption, with an added incentive to establish Nebraska as the leading contender for the Big 12 North crown and a shot at the Big 12 title.

The Cornhuskers travel to Columbia, MO to face the Tigers against the backdrop of their tiger stripe covered, whiskers wearing, tail wagging, morose fandom.

Columbia and its tiger striped inhabitants haven't been kind or generous to the Cornhusker's faithful in recent years.

It has been three straight trips, not since 2001, that the Cornhuskers and their faithful have been able to come away from Columbia and Faurot Field as victors.

Not since the days of Bill Masterson and Bill Glassford in the late 40s and early 50s has Nebraska found Columbia to be so unkind.

Will they buck the trend in 2009 and start to write a new chapter of dominance over the Tigers? 

Time will tell.

In a bit of an odd twist of fate Missouri and Nebraska appear to be mirror images of one another.  Sort of, at least.  How is this you ask?

Offensively, both teams will be looking to replace very productive senior quarterbacks and each teams' leading duo of pass catchers.  For Missouri, they will also need to replace an outstanding All American tight end in Chase Coffman.  Nebraska does benefit from the return of tight end Mike McNeil, one of the leading pass catchers in 2008.

Nebraska and Missouri both return a starting running back in Roy Helu Jr. and Derrick Washington, respectively.

Missouri also needs to find replacements for defensive stalwarts, defensive ends Ziggy Hood and Stryker Sulak, plus hard hitting safety William Moore.

In all Missouri will be looking to replace 14 starters.

It's also notable that along with the 14 starters and loads of game experience gone, in 2009, Missouri will be replacing both their offensive and defensive coordinators from 2008.

Missouri will likely turn the keys of the offense over to Blaine Gabbert. Although, Missouri did lose some serious talent at wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin, they bring in some very experienced seniors in Jared Perry and Danario Alexander.

I am sure these guys can make plays, but I doubt that they will make the explosive run after the catch plays that made Maclin such a threat.

Barring something completely unforeseen, Nebraska's starting quarterback will be Zac Lee.

Now, although the Huskers did lose to graduation the teams two leading receivers in Swift and Peterson, there are a few guys with experience and some new comers that will be looked to to pick up the slack.

Of the experienced guys I expect Menelik Holt, Niles Paul, and Chris Brooks to provide leadership and to guide the way for the rest of the wide receivers.

Younger guys like Antonio Bell, Khiry Cooper and Junior College transfer Brandon Kinnie should fill in nicely and make some plays.

Word out of seven-on-seven drills this summer, is that Brandon Kinnie is taking a serious leadership role and is a physical clone of ex Husker Maurice Purify, but faster.

My thoughts on the game directly is that it is going to come down to running the ball, playing defense and good special teams play.

One of the bigger factors that I think will decide this game is which inexperienced quarterback makes fewer mistakes.  Which opposing defense can force its will on the opposing quarterback?

Nebraska returns some very good players along the defensive line, in honors candidate, Ndamukong Suh, with experienced and athletic defensive ends Barry Turner and Pierre Allen on either side of Suh.

The Huskers are also very deep along the interior with youngsters like Jared Crick, Baker Steinkuhler, Terrance Moore and red shirt freshman defensive ends Cameron Meredith and Josh Williams.

Behind these guys Nebraska returns three of four secondary starters and several other players with lots of game experience.

Nebraska is likely going to look to some very young, but athletic guys at the linebacker positions like Weak-side backer Matthew May, Strong-side backer Sean Fisher and Missouri native Will Compton at the middle backer position.  These young guys will be supported by veterans like Colton Koehler, Phillip Dillard and Blake Lawrence.

Missouri lost a bunch of talent and experience along the defensive front as three of four starters from 2008's very experienced group are now gone to graduation.  Jaron Baston will be the only returning starter among the front four for Missouri.

Linebacker Sean Witherspoon will lead the Missouri defense. Witherspoon needs 133 tackles to becoome the schools all time leader.

I look for this battle to be a blood and guts, knuckle busting, head knocking, take no prisoners defensive war of attrition.  A game that many fans of both teams will remember was the rule in the 70s and 80s. 

Which team can make the other offense and their young quarterback blink first?

Nebraska should get a good push from an experinced offensive line going against a young defensive front.  I don't look for Helu or Castille to put up huge numbers rushing the ball, but as a tandem should produce enough to help Zac Lee and open up zones for the passing game and the read option.

I am going to go with Nebraska on this one due to the experience returning along the defensive line and in the secondary.  Suh, Allen and Co will put heat on Gabbert and force a couple key mistakes.

I see Nebraska winning a close hard fought game on a late Alex Henery field goal.

Nebraska 20

Missouri   17


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