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October 25, 2008

Match-up watch: Nebraska vs. Baylor

Each week, Huskeronline.com will breakdown the three key match-ups heading into Saturday's game. This week we break down three match-ups that should play a big role in determining Nebraska's success today against Baylor.

Nebraska's linebackers vs. Robert Griffin

It's not often that a true freshman is a team's biggest offensive weapon, but that's undoubtedly the case with quarterback Robert Griffin and Baylor. In his first collegiate season, Griffin ranks second on the team in rushing by just five yards and hasn't thrown an interception in more than 150 passing attempts.

His dual threat ability will be the primary concern for Nebraska's defense in today's game, especially the linebackers. The Huskers have had trouble with versatile quarterbacks like Griffin, as San Jose State's Kyle Reed and Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor both gave NU fits earlier this season.

Senior linebacker Cody Glenn said earlier this week that it will be crucial for the Huskers to be able to keep Griffin contained in the pocket, as well as trying to take away the short pass routes the Bears have thrived on all year. If Nebraska can find a away to keep Griffin in check, it will subsequently keep the Bears' offense in check as well.

NU's receivers vs. Baylor's cornerbacks

As if Baylor's secondary wasn't already its biggest defensive weakness, the Bears might have lost their two starting cornerbacks to injury in last week's loss to Oklahoma State. While their status for today's game is still unknown, not having cornerbacks Dwain Crawford and Krys Buerck available will make an already questionable secondary even worse.

On the season, Baylor has allowed an average of more than 219 yards per game through the air to rank 78th nationally, and that was with its two starting corners. Nebraska, on the other hand, has averaged nearly 300 yards passing per game (291.4).

Even if Crawford and Buerck are able to play, it's likely they will be limited physically. This means players like Nate Swift, Todd Peterson and Menelik Holt could have field days running routes on Baylor's defensive backs.

Nebraska's running game vs. Baylor's front seven

The past two games, Nebraska's ability to control the football and grind out the clock has been the difference in a near upset and its first conference victory of the season and it was all due to the running game.

Against Texas Tech and Iowa State, the Huskers rushed the ball a combined 76 times for 334 yards and six touchdowns, and held the ball for an average time of possession of roughly 38 minutes per game.

If the three-headed running back trio of Marlon Lucky, Roy Helu and Quentin Castille can get rolling against the Bears on Saturday, you might as well chalk up the win for Nebraska right now. On the season, the Bears rank 70th nationally against the run, allowing an average of 146.7 yards per game on the ground.



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