Nebraska: Three Keys to Win the Game
1. Hit that Quarterback!
The biggest key for Nebraska will be to get some hits on John David Booty early in the game. Nebraska's Blackshirt defense must keep him from getting in a rhythm. Nebraska's secondary had little depth before we lost outstanding cover corner Zack Bowman during preseason, and it got worse when we lost another speed corner, Isaiah Fluellen, for the season. If Booty is allowed time, it will be a long night for Husker fans.
2. Control the Tempo
Nebraska's offense needs to control the tempo of this game. That means being able to run the ball successfully. We need a lot of short third down plays. It means mixing in the short and intermediate passing game. Key to this will be the Nebraska offensive line play against USC's front four. If USC's defensive front neutralizes Nebraska's offensive line, it means USC linebackers will be roaming free to kill the intermediate passing game.
Nebraska has a lot of experienced receivers, will play four tight ends and four running backs. This gives us an advantage in being able to throw a lot of different sets and formations against the Trojans to keep them guessing. Nebraska must maintain forward movement and ball control. Husker fans need to rejoice at four yard gains, whether they be by run or pass. If Nebraska's offense can keep the short yardage game going, big plays will come.
Let's face some facts. Nebraska is going on the road to play the #2 team in the nation at night. USC is a team that doesn't turn the ball over very often. Their special teams play is very good. Their defense is good at takeaways. They are a well-coached team that makes very few mistakes. Add all of this up, and we need some good old fashioned luck.
Luck comes in the form of a referee making a pass interference call at a key moment in the game. It comes in the form of a bad snap on a punt or field goal. Maybe it's in a fumble caused by Nebraska's Jay Moore putting a bone-crushing hit on John David Booty while he's dropping back to pass - with our other defensive end, Adam Carriker, taking it the distance for a defensive touchdown. (Who doesn't want to see that?)
Coaches would never admit it, but you don't win national titles without a little luck involved, and the same can be said for a lot of big games. Good old-fashioned luck is always filed under the "good teams find a way to win" folder by coaches. USC has had plenty of good luck over the past few years. It wouldn't ruin some grand eternal plan if they suddenly found a spot of bad luck on Saturday night, would it? I didn't think so.