COLUMBUS, Ohio - Nebraska will take the road for the second time this season tonight at Ohio State. Earlier this year we all know what happened when the Huskers played at UCLA. How will they respond in their second road test of the season?
The Huskers will arguably face the toughest road atmosphere they've ever seen tonight at the Horseshoe in Columbus. As things get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to victory for Nebraska over Ohio State. NU enters tonight's game as a 3 ½ point underdog.
This one is an obvious for Nebraska. The Huskers have been a slow starting team at times under Bo Pelini, especially on the road. That was never more apparent last week when NU fell down 20-3 to Wisconsin.
If the Huskers want to have any chance of winning tonight on the road they're going to have to get their offense going early. The offense is the strength of Nebraska's team and they need to establish their identity very early in this ball game.
Containment of Braxton Miller
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller accounts for nearly 70 percent of the Buckeyes offense. Everything they do goes through No. 5.
How Nebraska chooses to defend and contain Miller will ultimately decide the fate of the defense tonight. One thing to watch early is how well Miller runs, because he hyper extended his knee a week ago against Michigan State.
If Miller is even slowed down a little by his knee this will greatly help NU's chances of keeping him in check.
Loosen up OSU's run defense
A week ago Ohio State really overcommitted to slow down Michigan State's running offense. I expect them to do commit an eighth man in the box to force quarterback Taylor Martinez into obvious throwing downs.
This Buckeye defense is faster and more athletic than a year ago, and Tim Beck needs to do what he can to loosen them up early so Nebraska's offense can stay balanced.
Create more turnover opportunities
So many times this year Nebraska's defense has had opportunities to create turnovers, but they've come up empty handed.
If the Huskers want to go on the road tonight and get a win, they have to force some turnovers and not let any opportunities slip out of their hands.
An overall lack of poise has been a big thing that's hurt Nebraska on the road. Just go back to NU's losses at UCLA, Michigan and Wisconsin. There were meltdown moments in those game where Nebraska lost their poise and let the entire game get out of hand in a matter of a few plays.
This has to get better tonight for Nebraska. Ohio State is going to make some big plays. Miller is going to turn out a few big runs, but NU still has to keep their poise in these situations. Offensively Martinez needs to do the same.
There are going to be some rough drives that could lead to quick punts, but that's totally fine. Martinez needs to be ok with punting the ball away on fourth down instead of forcing plays that aren't there on second or third down.
Callahan's weekly predictions
This is a game that I feel the home field is the deciding factor. If this game were in Lincoln, I'd take Nebraska. But since it's in Columbus, it's hard to go against the Buckeyes knowing how hard it is to play in this league on the road at night. A year ago a very good Wisconsin team went into Columbus in lost at night. The atmosphere will test Nebraska as much as any we've seen in several years. We will know a lot about what type of team Nebraska is after tonight's game.
Ohio State 34 Nebraska 30
Northwestern 37 Penn State 27
Michigan 41 Purdue 33
Florida 20 LSU 17
South Carolina 34 Georgia 27
Season Record: 17-7 overall; 16-8 vs. points