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December 4, 2010

Callahan's take: NU must finish off drives


ARLINGTON, Texas - Nebraska will try to win their first Big 12 Championship since 1999 tonight at Cowboys Stadium as they will take on the Oklahoma Sooners one last time before moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2011.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are the five keys to a Husker victory over the Sooners. Right now Oklahoma is a four point favorite over Nebraska.

Get the run game going early

If Nebraska's offense is going to have success tonight in Arlington, they are going to have to run the football with success.

Oklahoma is giving up 4.4 yards per carry on the ground, which ranks 11th in the Conference only to Kansas State. Teams really haven't run the football though at OU this season for whatever reason. The Sooners have only seen a league-low 21.25 rushing attempts per game and last week Nebraska ran the ball a season-high 59 times against Colorado.

This is a game where Nebraska's offensive line can really get things going if they establish their will and if they can run the football early against the Sooner front seven.

Limit mental mistakes

Penalties and mental mistakes weren't a problem for Nebraska last week in their win over Colorado, but they have obviously been an issue in other games this season.

If the Huskers want to win a championship tonight, they can't get costly 10 and 15 yard penalties that give Oklahoma's offense any field position edges.

Jam up Ryan Broyles

NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said this week that Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles gets off the line of scrimmage as fast as any player in college football.

Nebraska's physical cornerbacks need to bump up Broyles and not give him very many free and easy releases. If Broyles can get off the line without any problems, that's when Landry Jones can hurt you.

Create turnovers on defense

Last week's Nebraska's defense forced three turnovers against Colorado that led to 21 points. The previous week against Texas A&M they didn't force a single turnover and lost 9-6.

With that being said if the defense can do anything to take the pressure off of NU's offense tonight by forcing some turnovers it will go a long way in the final outcome of the game.

Don't settle for field goal in the red zone

I just think about the Texas A&M and the Texas games this year and the Virginia Tech and Texas games last year and the common theme all four of them had were the Huskers failed to score an offensive touchdown in any of them.

If you are going to be a championship team you can't settle for field goals no matter how good your defense is playing.

When I look at this match-up right now I think it can go either way. I expect Taylor Martinez to start tonight, but he will be on a short leash, mainly because of his turf toe injury.

With the way Oklahoma has played the last month, along with the inconsistencies and injuries the Huskers have had on offense make me lean towards the Sooners in this one.


Callahan's Prediction: Oklahoma 26 Nebraska 20
Season Record: 10-2 overall; 7-5 vs. points



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