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Five Goals for the Huskers against Ohio State
Last Saturday, Nebraska was the team that pundits and fans were spinning a story of revenge for. This week, the Huskers become the ones with the bulls-eye planted squarely on their chests. Any Ohio State fan that gets BTN could tune in to watch the biggest comeback in Nebraska football history and knew the ending down to the last painful detail. Will payback come to The Ohio State University as it did for the Huskers?
If the Big Red wants to keep its winning streak alive, there are five things that need to happen against Urban Meyer and company:
- Keep Taylor Calm: Pre-game massage, Xanax, horse tranquilizers, it doesn’t really matter. If Taylor Martinez is cool as a cucumber, he has the potential to get Nebraska out to an early lead and keep the Cornhuskers there. His offensive line still has miscues, but you’ll notice that as Martinez gets into a groove, they often do, too.
Due to botched snaps last week in a friendly environment, look for that to be something Tim Beck hammers home during the first few plays. If Martinez gets rattled, The Shoe is not an easy place to regain your composure and we’ve seen just how quickly T-Magic can unravel.
- Take the Burkhead/Abdullah Show on the Road: Unfortunately, while wearing that knee brace, Rex Burkhead won’t be 100 percent. In fact, he appears closer to 85, but much in the same way he and Roy Helu, Jr. made for an excellent one-two punch in 2010, Burkhead and Abdullah seem to be a powerful pair this season.
Burkhead’s not quite thunder to Abdullah’s lightning, but he is a back that will literally drag tacklers with him as he rumbles for chunks of yardage. If Nebraska can force Ohio State to account for Martinez, Burkhead and Abdullah, Tim Beck can get very creative in a hurry.
- Nullify Miller’s Legs: As we saw against UCLA and Wisconsin, Nebraska’s defense does poorly against quick athletes at the line of attack. Miller’s not Denard Robinson, he’s better. Will Compton does well against brute force runners like Montee Ball, but speed is necessary to keep Miller in check.
He obviously needs a spy and a tweener like Corey Cooper may be the guy tabbed as the guy to clean up any messes caused by missed tackles. It may be worth it to sell out to stop Miller and take some risks against running back Carlos Hyde.
- Isolate Johnathan Hankins: How good is Hankins? If you had to block against a defensive front four that included Ndamukong Suh and you were asked who you’d want double teamed on every play, the answer’s obvious. Hankins is that guy on this Ohio State line.
That’s not to say he’s as good as Suh at this point in his career – in fact, he’d likely outright deny that – but for Nebraska to have success up the middle, he has to be taken out of every play as much as possible. The Buckeyes’ defense is far better than Wisconsin’s across the board, but stopping Hankins will be a huge step in gaining ground against it.
- Massage Maher’s Ego
Maher didn’t change back into Henery 2.0 against Wisconsin, but he did seem to take a step forward. He converted three of four attempts including one from 41 yards out. His lone miss was no chip shot – a 52-yarder. Whatever must be done to convince Maher that he’s finding his groove (and he is, right?), make it so.
This will criminally be the last time the Huskers and Buckeyes meet until 2017. Here’s hoping the 2011 and 2012 games can hold us over until then.
Follow Brandon on Twitter: @eightlaces