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Northwestern at Nebraska: Keys to victory and HOL predictions

Nebraska (4-4, 3-2) will try to stay on track this week with a red hot Northwestern (5-3, 3-2) team coming to town. The Wildcats are fresh off a thrilling overtime win over No. 16 ranked Michigan State.

As we get closer to kickoff, here are the keys to a Husker victory today as both teams are seemingly in a battle for second place in the Big Ten West.

Nebraska enters today's match-up as a slight 1 point favorite over the Wildcats.

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USA Today

KEYS TO VICTORY: Northwestern at Nebraska 

KEY 1: Find a run game

Northwestern comes into Lincoln with a rushing defense ranked 17th nationally, while the Huskers are 106th nationally running the football. NU has to find a way to generate some offensive balance today on the ground if they want to have a chance. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf needs to get creative with his ground attack.

KEY 2: Limit defensive breakdowns in space

Good spread offenses have given Bob Diaco's defense trouble at times this season. Northwestern will come into Lincoln with a very veteran offensive unit, and NU has to limit their overall defensive breakdowns in space. They have to communicate batter this week on defense and not allow any downfield coverage busts.

KEY 3: Finishing drives

The Wildcats rank first in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in red zone offense, meanwhile Nebraska currently ranked 12th in the Big Ten and 100th nationally in that same category. We saw the Huskers red zone trouble flare up last week at Purdue, and they were fortunate to win kicking four field goals. Nebraska has to find more ways to be efficient in the red zone today.

KEY 4: Get after Northwestern's offensive line

The one real weak spot on this Northwestern team at times this season has been their offensive line. This unit has played better the last few weeks, but there are still some areas of vulnerability Nebraska should be able to attack and take advantage of.

KEY 5: Play fast

Nebraska needs to play with more tempo on both offense and defense today against Northwestern. Other than the final few drives last week, the Huskers really had no offensive rhythm against Purdue. Don't be surprised if you see Riley and Langsdorf mix in a drive or two of no-huddle offense this week to change things ups.

EXPERT TAKE: Northwestern at Nebraska 

Sean Callahan - HuskerOnline Publisher

Nebraska and Northwestern appear to be two different teams right now. The Wildcats are clicking on all cylinders, winning their last three, with their most recent win against No. 16 Michigan State. Meanwhile the Huskers scratched out a fourth quarter win at Purdue, but have lost two of their last three games. With that said, I just don't like this match-up for the Huskers. The Wildcat offense will stress the Big Red, and it will be very difficult for Nebraska to do anything on the ground today with their offensive line situation. I think Northwestern will leave Lincoln with a win, making the road team 6-1 all-time in this series since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011.

Northwester 27, Nebraska 23

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Robin Washut - HuskerOnline Senior Writer

Nebraska finds itself in another must-win situation, and this time the Huskers seem to be as beaten up across the board as they’ve been all season. That said, this feels like a game where NU just finds a way to get it done. It will be close and probably come down to the final minutes like every other game in this series, but the Huskers take another huge step closer to a bowl game with a win.

Nebraska 27, Northwestern 26

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Nate Clouse - HuskerOnline Lead Recruiting Analyst

I see this being yet another close game between these two teams. I don’t think Nebraska will be able to get much of a run game going against the Wildcats, but the Huskers should be able to have success through the air. Success in the red zone and field position will dictate the outcome of the game and I believe a late punt return by De’Mornay Pierson-El sets up Drew Brown for a game-winning field goal to come away with a home win.

Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24

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Mike'l Severe - Omaha World Herald Bottom Line

I originally picked the Huskers to win this one at home. But the more I look at the Wildcats strengths vs the Huskers weaknesses I think NW will be able to run and throw the ball with Nebraska falling short in the run game. Thornson should have some success in QB run game and the success NW has had in the redzone scoring TDs will be the difference.

Northwestern 30, Nebraska 20

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Andy Kendeigh - KETV Channel 7 Sports Director

Nebraska will go as far as Tanner Lee's right arm will take them the rest of this season. This is a good matchup for Lee and the Huskers. Northwestern is 119th in pass defense giving up 271 yards a game and conditions should be just fine for airing it out in Lincoln on the first Saturday in November. The Blackshirts take another step and do just enough for win #5.

Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24

HuskerOnline Week 9 Score Predictions
Week 9 Sean Callaan Robin Washut Nate Clouse Mike'l Severe Andy Kendeigh

NW at Nebraska

27-23

NW

27-26

Nebraska

27-24

Nebraska

30-20

NW

27-24 Nebraska

OSU at Iowa

38-24

Ohio State

28-10

Ohio State

38-24

Ohio State

21-7

Ohio State

38-24

Ohio State

PSU at Mich. State

23-17

Penn State

32-28

Penn State

33-21

Penn State

24-17

Penn State

31-21

Penn State

Wisconsin at Indiana

27-13

Wisconsin

38-13

Wisconsin

35-20

Wisconsin

23-17

Wisconsin

24-14

Wisconsin

Oklahoma at OSU

41-38

Oklahoma

51-49 Oklahoma

42-41

Okie. State

38-34

Okie. State

45-41 Oklahoma

ISU at

WVA

37-31

WVA

30-24

WVA

32-30

WVA

34-24

WVA

27-24

WVA

HuskerOnline Score Prediction Standings
Expert Picker Straight Up vs. The Spread  Cumulative Total 

Mike'l Severe

OWH Bottom Line

34-14

24-24

58

Andy Kendeigh

KETV ABC-Omaha

28-16

27-21

55

Sean Callahan

HuskerOnline

32-16

22-26

54

Nate Clouse

HuskerOnline

31-17

22-26

53

Robin Washut

HuskerOnline

30-18

22-26

52