The nervousness level for this week's game against Iowa State increased exponentially last Saturday after the Huskers' poor performance on defense. On one hand, Iowa State has certainly struggled this season (an OT win over Toledo and narrow escapes against UNLV and Northern Iowa) at times. But on the other hand, Iowa State's strengths (quarterback and wide receivers) seem to match up with Nebraska's greatest liability (pass defense).
Preseason, Iowa State's receiving corp was rated tops in the Big XII and present a huge mismatch against the Husker secondary ... especially if the Blackshirts play like last week. Adding to the mismatch equation is the mobility of Iowa State QB Bret Meyer. On Tuesday, Stewart Bradley said to expect an attacking defense against the 'Clones...but Meyer's mobility might wreck those plans. Throughout the years, Nebraska has struggled against mobile quarterbacks (Michael Bishop, Ell Roberson, Vince Young, Brad Smith), and Meyer seems to be growing into that role.
On the other hand, Iowa State's defense has struggled most of the year, which should mean a big game for Zac Taylor and the Husker offense. Nebraska should score often on Saturday night, which means we could be looking at a WAC type of score. Remember that 63-42 game against Oklahoma State and Barry Sanders in 1988? This could be that sort of game.
This is going to be the first ISU-Nebraska game I've missed in 17 years. Ticket demand in Ames is at an all-time high and our ticket request got rejected. In many respects, with an offensive shootout envisioned and a 7 pm kickoff, watching it on TV might be for the best as it might be 3 or 4 am before I'd get home after the game.
The weather on Saturday is looking almost tropical for a Nebraska-Iowa State game in Ames with a game time temperature forecast of 70. Most years, this game felt more like it was 70 degrees kelvin. But the forecast also calls for gusty winds Saturday, which should affect the passing game for both teams. In the wind, I have to give the edge to Zac Taylor, as he impressed me with his touch on a windy day against Kansas State.
My thoughts on this game? Well, I think Nebraska can score 35 or more points on Saturday easily. The only question is how many Iowa State will score. If Cosgrove can find a way to contain Meyer and pressure him, Nebraska could win easily. If he can't, Nebraska could be in for a dogfight. And we all know what happens when Nebraska lets a quarterback run wild. Last year, Missouri had struggled throughout the season, but turned it on against Nebraska. So did Kansas last year. So did Kansas last week.
So what's my prediction? I'll take Huskers 38, Iowa State 28. Iowa State always plays Nebraska tough in Ames.