Nebraska Vs. Kansas State Football: Five Things To Watch For
Tune in to ESPN at 7:30 ET to get a taste of two undefeated Big 12 North teams.
Kansas State, currently sitting atop the Big 12 North, will play host to the favorites to hold the Big 12 North title, the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Both teams will play with urgency and passion tonight, as it's a key game in deciding the Big 12 North, even if it is early in the season. Here are a few story lines that you can watch unfold tonight.
Bo Pelini Vs. Bill Snyder
Bo Pelini is 24-8 since taking over at the start of the 2008 season in Lincoln, and he is widely regarded as a defensive mastermind.
Pelini, who was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and LSU before becoming the head coach at Nebraska, has the Husker faithful thinking Big 12 championships yet again.
Bill Snyder is 146-74-1 for the Kansas State Wildcats, and he's in his second stint with them after a three-year hiatus. Snyder can seemingly do no wrong in Wildcat nation, leading them to four straight 11-win seasons in the late '90s.
However, as Snyder turns 71 today, he'll have to take on the Big 12 foe he has struggled with the most, losing 13 of his 18 meetings with Nebraska.
Taylor Martinez Will Get Nebraska's Passing Attack Going
So far this year Taylor Martinez has put up subpar passing numbers (two TDs, three INTs) against below average teams.
However, Martinez has been able to keep the Nebraska offense rolling, scoring eight rushing touchdowns and averaging over 120 rushing yards per game.
Tonight Martinez will settle down in the pocket and make good decisions affecting this game with his arm more than his leg. A week after South Dakota State slowed down his rushing attack by playing a QB spy, Nebraska should be ready to see more of the same out of Kansas State.
Nebraska, which is coming off a bye week, has had plenty of time to game-plan, so look for Martinez to have his best passing game of the season.
Carson Coffman Will Struggle
To Carson Coffman's credit, he has gotten the job done in this young season, leading the Wildcats to a 4-0 start. However, Kansas State and Coffman have yet to truly be tested—that is, until tonight.
Coffman has thrown for five touchdowns and two interceptions, averaging under 20 passes a game for the season.
As Nebraska focuses on shutting down an excellent Wildcat rushing attack, Coffman will have to elevate his game to the next level, which he will fail to do.
The Nebraska defense that has had more than a week to game-plan will confuse Coffman, adding to its total of 10 interceptions for the year.
A Defensive Struggle
A Nebraska offense that is coming off a 17-point showing against South Dakota State shouldn't expect to put much more up tonight against a Kansas State D holding opponents under 20 points per game.
I expect the Wildcats to run a QB spy on Martinez, forcing him to beat them with his arm. The question of the night will be, can he?
The Blackshirts of Nebraska have picked off 10 passes, sacked the quarterback nine times, and are giving up just 12.8 points per game. Those are intimidating numbers for a one-dimensional K-State offense that has been relying heavily on its running attack.
The Cornhuskers will pack the box, daring Carson Coffman to throw the ball downfield and hoping to come up with some big-time interceptions.
The Winner to Take a Stranglehold on the Big 12 North
Many experts have the Nebraska Cornhuskers as the favorite to win the Big 12 North this year, so a win for Kansas State, which is already 1-0 in league play, would move them into the Top 25 and put them in the driver's seat for the Big 12 North crown.
However, on the other side of the ball, Nebraska, a year removed from a heartbreaking loss in the Big 12 championship game, will look to get off to a 1-0 start in conference play.
Nebraska is the clear favorite in this game, but look for them to play with a sense of urgency with another unbeaten team on the field.