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September 22, 2012

ISU keys to victory and HOL staff predictions

Nebraska will take the field in what is essentially a tune-up game against Idaho State as the Huskers prepare for next week's Big Ten opener against Wisconsin.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are the keys to victory for the Huskers over the Bengals. There is no point spread on today's game since Idaho State is an FCS opponent.

Run it early and often

Here are some key stats you need to know against Idaho State. The Bengals currently rank 85th in total defense at the FCS level and they rank 118th out of 121 teams in rushing defense giving up 292.5 yards per game.

In their loss at Air Force to start the season their defense gave up 484 yards on 58 carries for an average of 8.3 yards per attempt.

With that said Nebraska should be able to run the ball down the field at will today, as long as their offensive line can fire off and dominate up font.

Tackling in space

The one thing Idaho State does really well is they throw the football accurately to their wide receivers and require you to tackle in space.

Against Air Force they drove the ball right down the field on their starters for two quick scores in the third quarter. Their quarterback Kevin Yost was 41-of-52 for 355 yards. Those numbers right there should get Nebraska's attention that Idaho State's passing offense is no joke. They will make plays in space if you let them.

Get the crowd going early

These are the type of games the crowd will fall right asleep if you let them.

That means Nebraska needs to do something to get the crowd going early. Personally I'd like to see running back Rex Burkhead break off a few early runs for big gains and that should get people out of their chairs.

The defense also needs to force some quick three-and-outs and not let Idaho State nickel and dime them to death with their short controlled passing game.

Play fast on defense

We saw it last week and we need to see it again this week. The biggest thing that needs to happen for Nebraska to continue to be successful on defense is the Huskers need to play fast.

Idaho State will try to tempo them just like Arkansas State and UCLA did with their no-huddle offenses. It will be important the calls get in on time to allow the defense to be mentally ready on each play. If you are mentally ready it allows you to play faster as a defense.

Keep building consistency

Nebraska could probably win today's game pretty easily with their second and third teamers. The biggest thing I want to see is consistency. I say it almost every week, but Nebraska cannot get too high on themselves after a strong performance last week.

In 2010 and even in 2011 we saw Nebraska come out flat against FCS opponents in South Dakota State and Chattanooga. The Huskers needs to send a message right away to Idaho State that it's not going to be a very fun day at the office to earn their $600,000 paycheck.

Callahan's weekly predictions

If everything goes to plan for Nebraska today they should be able to get their back-ups the most playing time they'll see all season. The starters should come out and take care of business early and impose their will on the first few possessions. Nebraska will rush for over 300 yards, but I see Idaho State's talented receivers connecting on a few plays to give the Bengals a touchdown and a field goal.

Nebraska 52 Idaho State 10
Oklahoma 38, Kansas State 34
Penn State 23, Temple 17
Wisconsin 27, UTEP 20
Michigan 37, Notre Dame 33

Season Record: 9-5 overall; 8-6 vs. points

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