Nebraska Football: Focus Is Key versus Kansas

Kraig LundbergAnalyst IIINovember 11, 2010

Niles Paul
Niles PaulOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Here's to hoping this week's game isn't reminiscent of Ames.

After going into halftime with a 10-7 disadvantage, Nebraska came out on fire in the third quarter, as they have so many times, and seemingly put Iowa State away with 17 unanswered points and control of the game.

Then complacency set in.

Before Nebraska knew it, Iowa State had surged back to tie the game with help from sloppy defense and an untimely Niles Paul fumble.  I hate to say it, but "untimely Niles Paul fumble" has practically become a cliché.

While the Huskers survived their scare, another Big 12 North showdown went down in similar fashion—except the Colorado Buffaloes didn't survive theirs.

Up 45-17 over the Kansas Jayhawks, the Buffs also settled into complacency, allowing a huge comeback by the Jayhawks, thanks to, well, sloppy defense and an untimely fumble.

These two games draw some disturbing parallels.  And who is Nebraska's next opponent?  The opportunistic Jayhawks.

While it is admittedly a little unrealistic to be worrying about a Jayhawks team that pales in comparison to Nebraska in terms of talent, stranger things have happened in college football.  Appalachian State over Michigan, 2007.  James Madison over Virginia Tech, 2010.

Oh, and how about this one: Kansas over Georgia Tech, 2010.

Don't kid yourselves; the Jayhawks know how to take advantage of an uninspired opponent.

The Huskers were plagued twice already this season with lack of focus.  While Texas has quite a bit more talent than Kansas, you can bet the Jayhawks have loads more than South Dakota State.

So the main focus for Nebraska this week must be just that: focus.

The Huskers need to come out like they are 9-0 and Kansas is 9-0 and the winner will wrap up the Big 12 North.  They need to lay a whooping on the Jayhawks and not let up until the game is over.  While some would see this as running up the score, it would actually be, in a sense, a sign of respect.

Going easy on an inferior opponent is more disrespectful than not letting up for fear of getting complacent. 

Obviously, if it's 49-0 with five minutes left, you don't have to throw the football and you can probably put your backups in.  But if its 24-10 with 10 minutes left, you can't let yourself get overconfident and start playing sloppy football.

Statistically and athletically, the Huskers are vastly superior to the Jayhawks.  A tough day is most likely in store for Kansas quarterback Quinn Mecham.  He has some pretty good receivers in Daymond Patterson and DJ Beshears; unfortunately, they will be forced to test their skills against two of the best cornerbacks in the nation in Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard (assuming Dennard remains healthy).

Throw in ball hawks Dejon Gomes and Eric Hagg, and it's pretty safe to say Mecham will have his tallest task yet in his short career.

The Husker offense is also much more athletic than KU's defense.  Nebraska should be able to run it right down KU's throat like it did at times against Iowa State, and they shouldn't have too much trouble passing either if that's necessary.

The Jayhawks just can't match up well physically, and the Huskers should be able to impose their will.

Of course, they also should have been able to against South Dakota State and Texas.

I would hope that the Huskers have learned their lesson this year.  As long as they come out focused and play solid, fundamentally sound football, they should win comfortably.

Nebraska 42, Kansas 10