Today's game against Kansas weighs heavy for both teams. The winner of Saturday's Kansas vs. Nebraska will have a pretty good shot of finishing second in the Big 12 North and moving themselves up a slot or two in the conference's bowl game pecking order.
Here are the five keys to victory for Nebraska as the Huskers prepare for today's match-up with the Jayhawks in Lincoln.
Forget about OU
Head coach Bo Pelini may have said it best following last week's embarrassing 62-28 defeat to Oklahoma. Pelini said the OU game is over and this team must move on. Today marks the start of a three game season and a win over Kansas would give the Huskers a very good chance to have an eight win season.
When this team takes the field today, they need to act like last week didn't exist. That's obviously a lot easier said than done, but so far this season the Huskers have shown they can bounce back from adversity.
Get the crowd into the game early
I felt pretty bad for the large contingent of Husker fans that made the trip to Norman last week. I have never seen a Nebraska game where the Huskers were literally down and out five minutes in the ball game.
That obviously can't happen today. NU has to find a way to get the crowd involved in this game early. It will be colder than it has been all season, and with a 1:30 p.m. start time, it will probably take a few big plays to wake the crowd up and get them into this game early.
Ganz vs. Reesing
The match-up I'm excited to watch on Saturday is at quarterback. Both Kansas's Todd Reesing and Nebraska's Joe Ganz are near spitting images of each other. Both Ganz and Reesing are great leaders that like to get it done with their feet.
I think whoever wins this match-up between Ganz and Reesing will obviously have a good chance to lead their team to victory.
The Tim Beck factor
Earlier this week, Nebraska running backs coach Tim Beck downplayed the question when asked how much he can help the Huskers on Saturday with his knowledge of the Jayhawks. Beck coached at KU from 2005 to 2007 and he actually installed the no-huddle spread offense the Jayhawks currently run.
Beck recruited Reesing as well, so he truly knows Kansas's personnel inside and out and I think this will be a huge advantage for Nebraska. Kansas will obviously mix things up on Saturday, but Beck still should be able to help both the offensive and defensive staffs with their in-game adjustments.
Swing game for both teams
This game weighs big for both teams. For Kansas, if they lose to Nebraska the creditability they built up from their 12-1 season kind of goes away, because realistically they are staring at a 6-6 season with games against Texas and Missouri remaining.
As for Nebraska, this game is big because a win gives them an excellent chance of an eight win season, which would be defined as a great first-year for Pelini.
In the end, I think the home crowd and the senior leadership of Nebraska will lead the Huskers to a close hard fought victory over the Jayhawks.
PREDICTION: Nebraska 38 Kansas 34