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November 17, 2012

Minnesota keys to victory and HOL predictions


Nebraska will try to move one step closer to Indianapolis today at home against Minnesota.

Can the Huskers avoid that "letdown performance" today and take another step forward? As things get closer to kickoff here are today's keys to a Husker victory over Minnesota. NU enters today's match-up as a 20 point favorite over the Gophers.

Control emotion levels

With 29 seniors playing their final home game at Nebraska the emotion level will obviously be high today in Lincoln.

In some ways that's a good thing, but in others it can be a bad thing. All week head coach Bo Pelini has talked to his team about channeling their emotion levels and not coming out too high for this game.

NU needs to take the field with an even keel approach and not try to win the game in the first five plays. It's a marathon and not a sprint. The Huskers need to take that approach and not let their emotion levels affect their start.

Force Minnesota into passing downs

The more Nebraska can make Gopher freshman starting quarterback Philip Nelson throw the football the better.

With the wind conditions once again blowing strong out of the south, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill isn't going to make Nelson throw down field unless he absolutely he has to. That's why it will be important the Huskers force Nelson into some longer passing down situations to try and create some turnovers.

Recognize the blitz

The Gopher defense will attack Nebraska with a high risk/high reward approach. They are going to take their gambles by putting eight or nine guys in the box and force Taylor Martinez and the Husker offense behind the chains.

In some ways it will be very similar to the way Michigan State tried to play Nebraska by doing a lot of movement and pressure packages with their defense. Beck and Martinez are going to be playing a chess game all day with Kill trying to guess where the pressure will be coming from.

Use the wind properly

Like last week the wind should play a factor. Anytime you have temperatures in the 60's in November that usually brings a strong south wind of over 20 miles per house with it.

Playing the wind and using it to your advantage early in both the passing and kicking game could affect this game. I thought last week Nebraska did a nice job of using the wind to their advantage, especially when Brett Maher boomed a 69 yard punt inside the 5 yard line that eventually led to a safety.

Just play your game

At Friday's Big Red Breakfast Beck said sometimes his biggest flaw is giving the opponent too much credit. Beck said they prepare for everything all week and at times he can overthink situations instead of doing what Nebraska does well.

Today I'd like to see Beck just go with his gut. Call what he thinks is there early and let the offense strike fast instead of maybe going through that adjustment period and not being as aggressive with his play calls. Nebraska has the best offense in the Big Ten and they shouldn't fear any defensive scheme at this point of the season.


Callahan's weekly predictions

Minnesota's aggressive defense will test Nebraska's offense early, but the Huskers have too much for the Gophers to stop. I think Nebraska will jump up on the Gophers today and force Nelson into throwing the football, which should result in some turnover opportunities.

Nebraska 37 Minnesota 13
Ohio State 27 Wisconsin 24
Michigan 34 Iowa 23
Michigan State 23 Northwestern 20
UCLA 41 USC 37

Season Record: 35-14 overall; 34-15 vs. points



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