Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Nebraska vs. Mizzou 2009: Where the Game Will Be Decided

One of the more interesting things I've noticed is that both teams fans are extremely confident - both seem to think they'll win, and win somewhat easily. Obviously, someone's going to be very disappointed when their chariot turns into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. But who is it going to be?

Missouri fans love to ask the question "Who has Nebraska beat?" Valid point; three blowout victories over Sun Belt foes doesn't prove much in terms of Big XII prowess. But reverse the question, and it becomes an even stickier situation for Tiger fans: "Who has Missouri played?" Sagarin rates Missouri's schedule #114, while Nebraska's is ranked #84.

Even scarier for Tiger fans is that two games were still in doubt in the 4th quarter against Bowling Green (Sagarin #100) and Nevada (#92). So while the domination of Illinois (Sagarin #91) and Furman (Sagarin #122) are certainly nice, Nebraska's performances against the Sun Belt teams rates higher.

So here are my takes on tomorrow night:
Neither team has faced an offense like the one they face at Faurot Field.
Missouri hasn't faced a defense even remotely as strong as Nebraska's. Nebraska has faced a much stronger defense - but only managed five field goals.
Weather and the flu rumors may wreak havoc with any predictions for tomorrow night.

Nebraska has a clear advantage up front defensively. Missouri's offensive line has struggled to open holes for Derrick Washington, and Blaine Gabbert has been forced out of the pocket quite a bit this season. This is Nebraska's key to victory; Nebraska will need to pressure Gabbert all night long. That doesn't mean that the Huskers need to sack Gabbert as much as not allow him to take his time and find his receivers.

Missouri has a clear advantage in the secondary. Against Nevada, Danario Alexander was practically uncoverable. All Gabbert has to do his get it close, and Alexander can get the ball. Great hands, speed, and a size advantage. So the key is for Suh and the rest of the line to flush Gabbert and keep him out of any rhythm.

For the Huskers on offense, the key is to be steady. Missouri has given up a lot of yards, but hasn't given up long plays. Consistent drives will not only keep the Blackshirts off the field, but also keep the crowd in check. If Roy Helu is ready to play, he'll be the key player. If they focus too much on stopping Helu, the tight ends and receivers will be open for nice gains.

Before the talk of monsoons and flu, I was thinking Nebraska 41, Missouri 24. Now, I'm not so sure. I'm going to hedge my bets here, and choose Nebraska 27, Missouri 14.


Anonymous said...

Good recap....both teams really think they can win. Flu? Rain?

NDHusker said...

I thought the defense did a great job in preparing for VT and Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is more of a dual threat QB than Gabbert and we were still able to contain him. The only problem was in cantaining him we allowed him too much time in the final 2 minutes of the game.

It will be different with Gabbert. Tyrod has rushed 30% more times than Gabbert, so Gabbert is not going to be a big concern to run the ball. He is going to find the Nebraska defense in his face all night long.

Roy Helu is leading the Big XII right now in rushing and I don't see that changing after this game.


PlusDrew said...

27-14 was a great call, nice job Mike.