Each week, Huskeronline.com will breakdown the three key match-ups heading into Saturday's game. This week we break down three match-ups that should play a big role in determining Nebraska's success today against No. 7 Texas Tech.
Nebraska's secondary vs. Texas Tech's passing game
It seems like this has become somewhat of a theme, but once again, how well Nebraska can defend against Texas Tech's passing game could very well decide the outcome of today's game. The Red Raiders boast one of the nation's top aerial assaults, led by quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
Those two alone have connected 38 times for 564 yards and eight touchdowns. Harrell currently leads the country with 2,027 passing yards and 18 touchdowns through the air.
Nebraska on the other hand ranks 97th nationally in pass defense, allowing 248 per game. While the Huskers are obviously looking to make significant improvement in this area, it's definitely going to be a tall task to do it against the Red Raiders.
Nebraska's pass rush vs. Texas Tech's offensive line
Just like last week, it's going to be imperative for Nebraska to be able to apply at least some sort of pass rush to try and throw Harrell out of rhythm. That of course was one of the goals against the Tigers, but quarterback Chase Daniel was rarely ever touched.
Like Missouri, the Red Raiders use wide splits on their offensive line to help widen the pocket for Harrell. Unlike the Tigers, though, Tech just might be one of the biggest lines in college football. With an average weight of more than 315 pounds, the Red Raiders are as big as they come on the offensive front.
Even so, the Huskers are going to have to be able to at least get in Harrell's face today, otherwise he's going to sit back in the pocket and pick apart NU's secondary all day long – just like Daniel did.
Nebraska's running game vs. Texas Tech's front seven
If these match-ups are starting to sound a bit familiar, that's because they are. Just like against Missouri and essentially every team they've faced, the Huskers are going to have to run the football to stay in this one.
Against Missouri, NU ran for just 79 yards, forcing its passing game to try and pick up the slack. As the score indicates, not being able to run the ball consistently proved to be Nebraska's downfall, as it was unable to sustain drives and keep the Tigers' offense off the field.
If they can't get a running game going against Texas Tech's front seven – which is averaging a little more than 102 yards per game on the ground – the Huskers could end up with a very similar result today as they had last week.