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September 21, 2013

SDSU keys to victory and HOL staff predictions


After an emotional week of off and on the field drama, Nebraska will take the field today against FCS top 10 opponent South Dakota State.

How will the Huskers respond after speculation arose that head coach Bo Pelini nearly lost his job after a two-year old audio recording was released by Deadspin.com? How will the Huskers play without quarterback Taylor Martinez for the first time since 2010?

Here are Saturday's keys to victory for Nebraska over SDSU. NU enters today's game as a 20 point favorite over the Jack Rabbits.

Take the pressure off Armstrong

Probably the most important thing for Nebraska today is keeping the pressure off redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong.

This will be Armstrong's first meaningful playing time of his career, it will be important for him stay relaxed and not feel like he needs to win the game on his own.

Armstrong has proven he can run the zone read very effectively, along with the option. I look for offensive coordinator Tim Beck to try some of these looks with Armstrong, along with a mixture of high percentage throws early.

Make Zenner earn his runs

South Dakota State will come at Nebraska with running back Zach Zenner, who led all of Division I in rushing a year ago.

Zenner is not a flashy back, but he'll consistently put SDSU in good situations with 4 to 6 yard runs. It will be important for Nebraska to limit Zenner's runs on early downs and not let him get into a rhythm.

Execute on third down

A big part of Nebraska's struggles last week on offense happened on third down. Too many times the Huskers faced third-and-5 type situations, which really limited Beck and his playbook.

The Huskers needs to win third down today and put Armstrong in favorable run-pass third down situations.

Put SDSU in passing situations

South Dakota State is going to try to shorten the game and get in a lot of third-and-short situations with Zenner.

It will be important for the Huskers to make SDSU be in passing situations and not let them get into manageable third down plays.

Channel emotion levels

It's obviously been a very emotional week for Nebraska for several different reasons. With that said I expect Memorial Stadium to be on edge and the Huskers need to be able to channel their emotion level.

It will be important to have a solid start and not come out too high out of the tunnel.


Callahan's weekly predictions

South Dakota State will do their best to limit Nebraska's possessions and shorten Saturday's game with the Huskers. I also think they don't want to show too much with North Dakota State looming next week. However, with Armstrong at quarterback I don't expect NU to light up the scoreboard too much, but I like NU to win comfortably 38-13.

Nebraska 38 South Dakota State 13
Michigan State 13 Notre Dame 12
Wisconsin 48 Purdue 10
Missouri 41 Indiana 35
Texas 24 Kansas State 20
Stanford 27 Arizona State 17

Season Record: 12-6 overall; 9-9 vs. points



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