This is the reason why they play the games, correct? You play all season long to get to the point where you have that one game that defines your season. Win and you are playing for the Big 12 championship. Lose and you are left pondering all the “what if’s” that occurred in this game (Iowa State), or that game (Texas Tech or Virginia Tech).
Yes, this Saturday night in Lincoln the country’s best defense will once again take the field at Memorial Stadium hoping that the offense that gained over 400 yards the previous week, will continue to show up.
A win will give the Cornhuskers a Big 12 North Championship and a matchup with the University of Texas on the first Saturday in December in Jerry Jones’ new playground in Dallas.
For players such as Barry Turner, Ndamukong Suh, Larry Asante, and Phillip Dillard on the defensive side and Menelik Holt and Jacob Hickman on the offensive side, it is their last chance to shine in front of the Memorial Stadium faithful. They hope to give the fans a BTN championship to remember in Bo Pelini’s second year as head coach.
Bill Snyder and Kansas State enter their last game of the regular season with a 6-5 mark (4-3 in the Big 12) and need the win to not only be bowl eligible (They have two wins against non-BCS schools), but also to clinch the BTN. Snyder's first year back has already been an improvement from last year, when the Wildcats missed out on the postseason with a 5-7 record.
In looking at the two squads, their offensive numbers are mirror images of each other. K-State averages 354 yards and 25 points per game, while the Huskers gain 353 yards and score 26 points per game .
It is of course on the defensive side where the Huskers have the advantage. Nebraska ranks 10th overall, while the Wildcats' defense is ranked 47th. The Huskers are also third in the nation in scoring defense at 11 points per game given up. The Cats are 59th in that category averaging 24 points per game.
The Blackshirts should also be more pumped up for this game after suffering the letdown against Kansas last week, where they gave up several long drives and played on their heels most of the game. The exhaustive effort given against Oklahoma might be partially to blame, so lets hope that they bounce back to their dominating selves.
If you take a quick look at the numbers this season, the one thing that jumps out at you is the fact that the most points the defense has given up this season is the 31 points in the loss to Texas Tech. Last season that number was reached six times and in 2007, it was an embarrassing eight times.
No, make no mistake about it, the Pelini “D” philosophy has made it’s permanent impression in Lincoln. There shouldn't be anymore 65 and 76 point games.
I also noticed a difference in the game attitude of Zac Lee. In the Oklahoma game, it was apparent that he was playing more to control the game and clock instead of playing for the win.
Against Kansas, he was playing with more confidence in his ability to make the plays that needed to be made. I look for that to continue Saturday night.
Roy Helu Jr. appears to have finally recovered from the shoulder injury that made him totally ineffective for the month of October. Helu has posted back to back games of 135 yards or more and appears to get stronger as the game progresses.
Helu’s contribution running the ball makes Lee a better quarterback as the defense because they have to respect the running game.
With senior day and the BTN championship on the line, I look for a dominating defensive game with the Huskers coming out on top by the score of 27-6. GBR!