The Nebraska Cornhuskers open Big 12 conference play tonight in Manhattan against the Kansas State Wildcats.
This will be the final conference opener that Nebraska will ever play in the Big 12. Nebraska will be looking for their sixth consecutive road win when they face Kansas State this week. Nebraska has defeated Kansas State the last five times that the two teams have played.
Nebraska comes into this game averaging 309.3 yards per game rushing the ball, which ranks fourth in the nation. Nebraska is the clear favorite against Kansas State and should be able to pull out a win, however, it will not be as easy as they think.
The Cornhuskers are in for a surprising test when they travel to Manhattan tonight.
Here are three reasons why a Cornhusker win against Kansas State is not certain.
1. Kansas State Running Back Daniel Thomas
Daniel Thomas has had a superb season for Kansas State thus far. He has rushed for 628 yards on 105 carries. He is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, and has rushed for six touchdowns. Thomas clearly is the star of the Wildcat offense and will be a tough task for the Cornhusker defense.
Thomas has received the ball on half of the Wildcats' offensive plays. He practically is the Kansas State offense. He is even starting to creep up on most Heisman Trophy watch lists. The Wildcats are going to pound the ball at you over, and over, and over. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has basically said, "This is what we are going to do, try to stop it."
Last year against a Nebraska defense that included Ndamukong Suh, Thomas rushed for 99 yards on 19 carries. Now against a defense without Suh, look for him to increase that total. Kansas State even outrushed the Cornhuskers in last year's game.
If the Cornhuskers are going to win this game, they will have to stop star running back Daniel Thomas. If he gets loose, he could wreak havoc on the Cornhusker defense all night.
2. Looking Ahead to Texas
Yes, Texas is 3-2, and out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in forever. They are, in fact, still Texas and teams playing them will still know where they are on the calendar. Do you think that Nebraska does not have this game circled on the calendar? All the work and effort they have put in has been in preparation for the game against the Longhorns.
Last season, in the Big 12 title game, Nebraska thought it had won the game on an incomplete pass thrown by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. The referees had other ideas. They returned one second to the clock, allowing the Longhorns to kick a last-second field goal to win the game.
Nebraska cannot wait to get its revenge against the Longhorns, but the Huskers will have to wait a week. If the Cornhuskers are busy looking ahead to next week, then Kansas State could catch them napping, and steal the game from them.
3. No Balance in Nebraska Offense
Quarterback Taylor Martinez has done an excellent job leading the Cornhusker offense this year. He does, however, struggle when asked to throw the ball. He is only completing 59 percent of the limited number of passes he has thrown this year.
Last week against South Dakota State, Martinez only completed six of 14 passes and threw two interceptions. Take note, this was against South Dakota State. Against the Wildcats' defense, Martinez will have to find a way to complete his passes. How will he recover from the game last week?
Look for Kansas State to put eight men in the box to stop the run, and force Nebraska to beat them through the air. Martinez will need to show balance through the air and on the ground for Nebraska to get the win in their conference opener.
It will be a tough Thursday night game in Manhattan. Nebraska opens Big 12 play for the last time, and Kansas State will be ready.
Nebraska 21, Kansas State 13
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Paul Ferguson is an intern at bleacher report.
Follow him on twitter at: @paulwall5