Monday, October 4, 2010

Nebraska Is In Control of it's Destiny: Humility is the Key

By Kraig Lundberg
Eric Francis/Getty Images
A week off probably did the Huskers some good.

After a dishearteningly weak win over South Dakota State, the Cornhuskers learned a valuable lesson: stay humble, even in victory.

After a 56-21 beatdown of Washington two weeks ago, which is looking gorgeous after a 32-31 Huskies win over 18th-ranked USC at USC, the Huskers got overconfident and lost their focus against a severely over-matched opponent.

Now, the Huskers enter the October gauntlet. The past two seasons, the Huskers sputtered and stumbled during the 10th month, and with the way the schedule is aligned, this season has the ability to play out the same way.

The Huskers face Kansas State in Manhattan this Thursday, and will get a serious test from one of the best running backs in the nation in Daniel Thomas. Nebraska has been leaky at times against the run this season, and KSU is very well coached.

This game will set the pace for Nebraska's season. If they can beat Kansas State, and stay humble, they have a shot at an undefeated regular season. Lose at KSU, and hopes of a BCS game are all but dashed.

The next Saturday, the Huskers host the stumbling Texas Longhorns in a matchup that was supposed to be a possible preview of the Big 12 title game. Instead, UT will be coming off a two-game losing streak and will do all it can to take down Nebraska.

How will the Huskers fare in October?

Beat Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma State
Beat Kansas State and Texas but lose to Oklahoma State
Beat Kansas State and Oklahoma State but lose to Texas
Beat Oklahoma State and Texas but lose to Kansas State
Beat Kansas State but lose to Oklahoma State and Texas
Lose to Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma State
Total votes: 907
Texas will have a tough time generating any offense against Nebraska, but the same might be said about Nebraska's offense against the Longhorns. It all depends on which Texas defense shows up: the one that stopped Texas Tech cold, or the one that got run over by UCLA. My bet is on the former.

A week after that, the Huskers must travel to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, a surprisingly good team with a ton of offensive firepower that will provide a stiff test for the Husker defense.

OSU's defense isn't incredible, but it is definitely better than, say, Washington's. This matchup has all the makings of a trap game. The Huskers have not won in Stillwater since 1995, and Nebraska may be vulnerable after an emotional game against Texas the prior week.

This stretch will be much more difficult than each of the opponents' rankings suggest. To get through October unscathed, the Huskers will have to hang onto their humility and will have to show a consistency that they have not yet shown under Bo Pelini.

Nebraska needs to sustain the level of play they found against Washington throughout the Big 12 schedule. And that will be extremely difficult. The Huskers have a shot, however.
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