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Thursday Night Throwdown- NU at KSU

Posted Oct 6, 2010

The Big 12 Farewell Tour begins for Nebraska in Manhattan on Thursday night- don't look for it to be friendly.


Nebraska at Kansas State

Time: 7:30
Line: Nebraska -12.

Importance of the game to Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are right in the thick of the national championship race, but they also have not really played in a big, nationally televised game, yet. Yes, the Washington game was big, but the stakes are much bigger this Thursday when they visit Manhattan. This is a huge Big 12 North game that will go a long way to determining if the Cornhuskers can get to the Big 12 Championship Game, and also if they can get into the National Championship Game.

Importance of the game to Kansas State: This is what Bill Snyder unretired for. This kind of game. The Wildcats have an opportunity to get themselves right into the thick of the national championship race with a win in this game. In fact, there is starting to be murmurs that if they win this game that they will go undefeated and be playing for the national title in the Big 12 Championship Game. They are not garnering a lot of attention so far, but that will all change with a good performance here.

Quote from Bo Pelini, Nebraska head coach: "I don't think that it's we've done anything bad, but there are many things we need to fix. I don't think there is anything where we said this just doesn't work, but at the end you also say we can do this better. These wrinkles or these different things can help us be more multiple. I think it's been a very productive time this last week. I've gotten a lot out of it personally."

Quote from Bill Snyder, Kansas State head coach: “Outside of being a tremendous athletic program, I think the history and tradition and all that goes along with it that is relative to the Big 8/Big12 Conference, I think will be missed. I hate to see them go. I am proud of the 10 remaining schools that they chose to make the decision that they did. I am disappointed and saddened by Nebraska not being in the conference.”

Nebraska Offense vs. Kansas State Defense: The Nebraska offense is lead by Taylor Martinez, the redshirt freshman. Martinez is averaging 9.4 yards per rush, with eight rushing touchdowns, all while completing 59.6 percent of his passes. He has two touchdown passes and three interceptions. Roy Helu Jr. is averaging 7.1 yards per rush, while Rex Burkhead is averaging 7.4 yards per rush. Brandon Kinnie leads the team in receptions with 17, and 12.6 yards per reception. Niles Paul is averaging 14.4 yards per reception. The offensive line has allowed six sacks so far this year. Kansas State’s defense has done very well against the pass. They have allowed opponent’s to complete just 45.6 percent of their passes, for 11.8 yards per catch and have come up with four interceptions. Of course, all the good things in the secondary are made up for by the rush defense. They have allowed opponent’s to run for 4.6 yards per rush. They’ve allowed just three rushing touchdowns though. They have also come up with seven sacks on the season. Brandon Harold leads the team in tackles for a loss with six and two sacks. Prizell Brown leads the team with three sacks. Alex Hrebec leads the team in tackles. Terrance Sweeney leads the team with two interceptions and six passes broken up. So, can Kansas State stop Martinez and the Nebraska ground game? It will be a tough test for a defense that has struggled against the run this year. If they can come up with some interceptions though, they may be OK.

Kansas State Offense vs. Nebraska Defense: The Wildcats offense relies on Heisman Trophy hopeful, Daniel Thomas. Thomas is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, with 26 carries per game and six rushing touchdowns. He has been dynamic as a running back. He can make things happen. Carson Coffman has turned into a nice quarterback, though. Coffman is only attempting 19 passes per game, and is completing 60.5 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and two interceptions. Brodrick Smith has caught 14 passes for 13.6 yards per reception with three touchdowns. Aubrey Quarles has 10 catches for 16.4 yards per catch and two touchdowns. The offensive line has been a bit of problem in pass protection, allowing eleven sacks already. Nebraska is allowing opponents to run for just 3.6 yards per rush, while allowing just 45 percent completion percentage for 10.3 yards per catch. They have intercepted an amazing ten passes already. They’ve come up with nine sacks on the season. Jared Crick leads the team with five tackles for a loss. Lavonte David leads the team in tackles with 44. Baker Steinkuler leads the team in sacks with three. Alfonso Dennard and PJ Smith each have three interceptions. They have not faced a team that is quite as strong running the football yet as this Wildcats team, though. Will that open up more passing lanes? Or will Coffman find as much success as Washington’s Jake Locker did? Remember, the Cornhuskers held Locker to 4 of 20 passing that day.

Prediction: The key could easily be the first quarter. Nebraska jumped out in front of Washington so quickly that the crowd in Seattle was not really in the game. That was Nebraska’s toughest test to this point, and it wasn’t an overly boisterous crowd. The crowd in Manhattan should be really into the game early. If the Wildcats can maintain some of that momentum early, then they will be in this game the whole way, and have a real shot to win in the end. If not, then don’t expect to see Kansas State mount a comeback- the Cornhuskers will likely methodically put this one out of reach. Look for Kansas State to stay in the game behind Thomas and Coffman, but for Martinez and this defense to take control of the game, and for some to start to whisper Martinez name in the Heisman Trophy discussion after this one. Nebraska 26, Kansas State 17.

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