football Edit

Northwestern keys to victory and HOL score predictions

EVANSTON, Ill. - The No. 20 ranked Nebraska (3-0) football team hits the road for the first time as they travel to Northwestern (1-2) to open up Big Ten Conference play.

Traditionally this has been a back and forth series over the years, with the road team winning four out of five times.

As we get closer to kickoff, here are the keys to a Husker victory over the Wildcats. Nebraska enters today's game at Ryan Field in Evanston as a 7.5 point favorite.

KEYS TO VICTORY: Nebraska at Northwestern

KEY 1: Ball security

Nebraska used to be known around the Big Ten for their turnover issues under Bo Pelini. Thus far that hasn't been a problem in 2016. That needs to continue today against Northwestern as the Wildcats have always been known for being opportunistic on defense.

KEY 2: Control the edge on defense

Last week's win over Oregon exposed some potential edge issues in Nebraska's rushing defense. Too many times the Huskers failed to set the edge and they allowed the Ducks to get big outside gains. Look for Northwestern to go at that early on Saturday to see how NU responds.

KEY 3: Expose the Wildcat offensive line

Through three games the Wildcats have given up 11 quarterback sacks and have been arguably one of the worst offensive lines in the Big Ten. The Huskers have to go at this weakness and expose it on Saturday. They need to control the line of scrimmage and make the Wildcats one-dimensional.

KEY 4: Tackling in space

The Wildcats will primarily force the Nebraska defense to make plays in space, as they've always been known for their spread offense. The secondary needs to play with discipline and not allow Northwestern to make big plays in the open field.

KEY 5: Field position

Northwestern is not an offense that's built to go down the field for long sustained drives. They will thrive off your mistakes and getting good field position. As long as Nebraska makes the Wildcats earn everything on Saturday, I don't see how they lose this game.

Expert take: Nebraska at Northwestern 

Sean Callahan - HuskerOnline Publisher

Northwestern will give Nebraska problems early, but this is not a very deep and talented Wildcat team. The Huskers will break this game open by the late third quarter. Nebraska will also have a much better handle on how to defend the Wildcats spread offense.

Nebraska 27, Northwestern 16

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Robin Washut - HuskerOnline Senior Writer

Based on recent history, this one should be much closer than many might expect. Based on the actual numbers through three games this season, this one shouldn't even be close. I think it ends up somewhere in the middle, as Nebraska slowly pulls away for win that was actually tougher than the final score might indicate.

Nebraska 31, Northwestern 13

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Nate Clouse - HuskerOnline Lead Recruiting Analyst

I don’t see Nebraska having a major letdown after earning a big win over Oregon last week as they get some payback against Northwestern this Saturday. It won’t come easy for the Huskers though as I think this will be a slugfest in the first half. Eventually, Tommy Armstrong and the offense are too much for the Wildcats as the Big Red pull away in the final quarter.

Nebraska 35, Northwestern 21

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Mike'l Severe - Omaha World Herald Bottom Line

I think the Huskers will have a bunch of success over the middle of the field with the pass and should be able to get to the edge with the run game. Thorson is holding on to the ball longer this season which should help NU get a few sacks.

Nebraska 31, Northwestern 20

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Andy Kendeigh - KETV Channel 7 Sports Director

Win the line of scrimmage, stop the big plays. Those are the two keys against Northwestern. Quarterback Clayton Thorson beat the Huskers with his legs last year. Don't let him beat you with his arm this year. Thorson already has 9 completions of 25 yards are more including 6 last Saturday in the win against Duke. Nebraska is unbeaten when rushing for 200 yards or more under Mike Riley. That trend continues Saturday in Evanston.

Nebraska 31, Northwestern 21

HuskerOnline Week 4 Expert Score Predictions
Week 4 Sean Callahan Robin Washut Nate Clouse Mike'l Severe Andy Kendeigh

Nebraska @

Northwestern

27-16

Nebraska

31-13

Nebraska

35-21

Nebraska

31-20

Nebraska

31-21

Nebraska

Wisconsin @

Mich State

31-19

MSU

28-21

MSU

28-17

MSU

31-17

MSU

20-10

MSU

USC @

Utah

38-27

Utah

41-35

Utah

24-20

Utah

27-20

Utah

31-27

Utah

LSU @

Auburn

17-16

LSU

24-21

LSU

30-24

LSU

28-25

LSU

21-17

LSU

Arkansas @
Texas A&M

38-34

Arkansas

48-42

TAMU

35-31

Arkansas

38-34

Arkansas

45-42

TAMU

Florida @

Tennessee

23-20

Florida

26-24

Tenn

28-24

Tenn

20-17

Tenn

19-16

Florida

HuskerOnline Score Prediction Standings
Expert picker Straight Up vs. the Spread Cumulative Total

Andy Kendeigh

KETV - ABC Omaha

13-5

12-6

25

Nate Clouse

HuskerOnline

12-6

11-7

23

Sean Callahan

HuskerOnline

13-5

9-9

22

Robin Washut

HuskerOnline

11-7

10-8

21

Mike'l Severe

OWH Bottom Line

10-8

9-9

19