This weekly feature considers five reasons why Texas Tech will win and five reasons Texas Tech will lose to each opponent. Check back tomorrow for "Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Win :: Nebraska Cornhuskers Edition".
Reason #1 :: Dominant Defensive Line: It's not cool to gush about a defensive lineman so much, but Saturday should be an absolute treat in that we'll have the opportunity to watch one of the more dominant defensive linemen I've seen in quite some time. We talked yesterday about how Ndamukong Suh can affect the passing game a number of ways, but there's quite a bit of talent along that defensive line where Jared Crick has been good, but the strange part is that the 2 defensive ends aren't putting a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. DE's Pierre Allen and Barry Turner have 1 sack each and I get the feeling that their job is to stop the run and contain the edges. And that's working to the tune of allowing 8.00 points a game. That's good for 2nd in the country and quite frankly, a shocking number.
Reason #2 :: An Inexperienced QB: As much as Texas Tech fans have discussed the Potts vs. Sheffield debate, there is one certainty in that Sheffield has never played a game in front of a crowd quite like Nebraska. To say that it's not going to matter just isn't true. It does matter. Playing on the road, almost always has an effect on the players and it hasn't looked as if Sheffield has been shaken much, but we're talking about a completely different animal in Lincoln. I'd love to say that it won't have any effect on Sheffield whatsoever, but in trying to be realistic, I do think there will be situations where the Red Raiders will need to overcome mistakes and going into hostile environments, on the road can be very tough, just ask me about my trip to Norman last year.
Reason #3 :: Converting in the Red Zone: It seems like a perfect combination for success is have a defense that only allows 8 points a game (this will obviously increase in conference play) and an offense that will convert red-zone scores. For the year, Nebraska is 19 of 20 in converting in the red-zone, converting 14 of those scoring opportunities into touchdowns and the remaining 5 into field goals. I think this is more of a case of doing what the offense asks you to do, which is not turn the ball over (only 1 a game) and put points on the board. That's not a bad way to win games and thsu far, that's exactly how Nebraska has done it thus far.
Reason #4 :: Offensive Patience: I think we all came away from that game thinking that the bend-but-don't-break defensive philosophy was multiple punches to the gut. It was a very patient Joe Ganz who kept the chains moving, along with very capable possession receivers who seemed to tower over the Texas Tech defensive backs. This morning, DC Ruffin McNeill stated that Nebraska completely changed their offense prior to last year's game (perfect question for Ask a Husker):
"They changed their whole offense before our game last year,’’ said McNeill, who said what Nebraska ran was nothing like what he had watched that week on videotape. "Totally different plays. Totally different passes."
If that's the case, then I can only hope that things will change this year as the Red Raiders will have had a full year to game-plan. What we have seen on the field though is a Texas Tech defense that has played more aggressive, especially with CB's Jamar Wall and LaRon Moore, but don't think for a second that the Cornhuskers won't try to wear down the Red Raider offense.
Reason #5 :: Playing the Spread: I think it works to Nebraska's advantage to play two spread offenses two weeks in a row, Missouri and Texas Tech. I know, more and more teams are moving to the spread, so it's not that big of a deal, but I'm guessing that it's much easier for a defense to prepare for similar offenses. Last week, Missouri struggled against a Nebraska defense and there's something to be said about the downpour of rain (this weekend's weather looks to be perfect) and it's affect on the players, but I think it's silly to deny that Nebraska simply wore Nebraska down in the 4th quarter. It should also be mentioned that the Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert was injured on one of the early series, affecting the game. Nebraska is going to get after who ever is at quarterback and it will be interesting how Pelini will adjust this week.