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October 16, 2010

Callahan's take: Act like you've been there before

The Nebraska football team will finally get their opportunity to take on Texas today in Lincoln after last year's controversial 13-12 loss to the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship game.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are the five keys to a Husker victory over the Longhorns. NU enters the game as a 10 point favorite over Texas.

Hold onto the football

If there's been a concern about Nebraska's offense through five games, it's been their ball security at times.

I fully expect Texas's aggressive defense to take swipes at the football, because they know they're going to have to force some turnovers in order to help their young struggling offense.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez has had problems at times holding onto the football. It will be important for Martinez not to have any costly fumbles that will hurt the offense.

Martinez's decision making

Running backs coach Tim Beck compared Nebraska's offensive style to "Novocain," meaning it may take a while to kick in, but eventually it's going to work.

Against South Dakota State Martinez didn't give it enough time to kick in because he made the wrong decisions in the zone read game.

If Texas defends Nebraska differently in the zone read game it will be crucial for Martinez to make the right decisions. There's a thinking UT will widen their linebackers out like SDSU did and make their defensive ends play containment, which could really open up things up in the middle for Martinez and the running backs.

Make Gilbert feel the pressure

Never before has sophomore Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert faced a road environment like he's going to see today at Memorial Stadium.

The 12th man is going to have to show up today. It will also be important for head coach Bo Pelini to keep Gilbert off balanced with different blitzes and pressure packages from the front seven. If this plays out right, NU's secondary should have a big day in coverage.

Control the special teams game

In last week's Kansas State game the Wildcats averaged 31 yards per kickoff return and really caused some problems for the Huskers.

NU has worked hard in practice to make the necessary adjustments this week, because in all reality special teams will be one of the most important phases of the game.

The Husker cannot allow Texas to get good field position in the return game. If you remember back in 2006, the Longhorns killed Nebraska in the return game which played a big factor in them winning that day.

Handle the environment

It's going to be emotional today. That's obvious. The key is containing that emotion for Nebraska. Act like you've been there before. NU needs to keep that "business as usual" attitude they've had all season.

If they do that, I don't see how they lose this game. However, I think Texas will play their best game of the year, but it still won't be enough.

I'll take the Huskers to 23-16, but I'll take the Longhorns to cover the 10 point spread.

Callahan's Prediction:Nebraska 23 Texas 16
Season Record: 5-0 overall; 3-2 vs. points

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