Battle for the North? Nebraska Travels to Lawrence
It just goes to show how much we actually know at the beginning of the year.
Nebraska at Kansas was supposed to be the battle of the season. It was supposed to be the Big 12 North Brawl for supremacy. Now though, it just looks like another game on a schedule of weak Big 12 North schools.
It's been a disappointing season for both sets of fans in different ways.
For Nebraska fans, the lack of offense has been appalling, but the resurgence of the Blackshirts has kept the season alive, and the goal of another Big 12 North title very attainable.
For Kansas fans, it has been much worse. The recent struggles on offense can be attributed to many things. The biggest of which isn't Todd Reesing, although some fans may choose to view it that way.
The offensive line for Kansas, at one point thought to be a bit of a strength has played less than formidable ball lately. This has led to a myriad of turnovers, and a four game skid culminating with a devastating loss to in-state rival Kansas State last week: 17-10.
Things don't look to get much easier for the Jayhawk offense as they attempt to right the ship.
The Cornhuskers come in sporting the second ranked scoring defense in the nation, the first ranked Pass Efficiency defense in the nation along with being the 11th ranked total defense in the nation.
Big 12 schools in the Top 10: Texas and Oklahoma.
Nebraska by far is the best defense in the Big 12 North, and looks like it could be the best defense in the Big 12, period, by season's end.
Not something Todd Reesing, who has lost five fumbles, and thrown five interceptions in the last four games, will be looking forward too, to get his groove back.
That's the story of this game really, a Kansas offense that was suppose to be prolific, but has been struggling lately against a defense that only seems to get stronger by the game.
Forget the other match-up. Nebraska's offense is last in the conference in first downs this season, and Kansas' defense is 11th in the conference in total defense.
When Nebraska's offense is on the field they will be handing the ball off to Roy Helu Junior, and then ask either Zac Lee, or Cody Green to not screw up.
Kansas' defense, though, held one of the Big 12's best, Daniel Thomas fairly in check last week. They gave up only 17 points despite the offense's best efforts at giving Kansas State the ball.
The question is, can they do the same thing to an offense that racked up 140 yards on the No. 5 ranked rushing defense in the nation? To put that in perspective, Kansas' run defense is 35th in the nation.
If Nebraska can stick to the identity they attained against Oklahoma last weekend offensively, they should be able to move the ball with more consistency than they have been.
All in all this is going to be a close game, just not the game we thought it was going to be at the beginning of the season.
Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Husker's this Saturday, one thing is for sure. The offense must lean on Helu, not make mistakes, and capitalize off of turnovers, because if the previous four games are any indication Kansas will be turning the ball over a few times in this game.
I think, finally, Nebraska figures out what they do well offensively, we saw it a bit last week. Like Alabama we must be a run first team with play action mixed in to win this game, and I think if last week was any indication, the coaches have hopefully figured that out.
If the defense can get a few turnovers, and the offense can score at least two touchdowns, this game should go the Husker's way, but in the wild and wacky world that is the Big 12 North, anything can happen. I'll just hold my breath and wait for the outcome on Saturday.
But I've been known to do predictions, so i'll go out on a limb here and make one. I see Nebraska winning this one the fourth quarter with a 23-13 score.
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