Nebraska football heads into its second straight game that presents a psychological hurdle.
The Huskers cleared the first on Thursday night with a 27-12 come-from-behind win at Missouri, which had beaten Nebraska four of the last six times including a combined 93-23 score the previous two meetings. Going into the contest, one had the feeling the Huskers were better than Missou this year but Thursday’s win was a psychological hurdle.
With Texas Tech you have the same dynamic. I believe the Huskers currently have the better team but the Red Raiders, who have beaten Nebraska the last three times. First there was the 70-10 debacle in Lubbock in 2004. Then, there were two hard luck losses – 34-31 in 2005 in Lincoln and 37-31 in overtime last season in Lubbock.
With the Huskers having Saturday vacant from games, I got to asking myself after the Red Raiders pummeled Kansas State 66-14 -- is K-State that bad or is Texas Tech much better than we thought? Fair question considering the Red Raiders lost a handful of players from last year’s 11-2 team including quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
One thing is for sure about Red Raiders head coach Mike Leach, he’s a goofy SOB but he knows how to develop offensive talent. Texas Tech is 4-2 after Saturday’s win with backup quarterback Steven Sheffield filling in for an injured Taylor Potts (concussion. All Sheffield did was complete 33-of-41 passes for 490 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
Nebraska is a six-point favorite but make no mistake, this should be a challenging contest.
Back up QB was outstanding. It should be a good and challenging game. To answer the earlier question of is Texas Tech better than we thought or does Kansas State really suck that bad? Well, a little of both. The Red Raiders are football’s version of a fast break offense. You have to make it a half court game because if the game is at the Red Raiders break-neck speed tempo, they are hell on wheels.
However, Kansas State is terrible. Let’s face it, the Wildcats barely beat Iowa State 24-23 and lost 17-15 to a Louisiana –Lafayette team that Nebraska whitewashed 55-0. So the truth must lie somewhere in the middle.
So I am not sure what we learned about Texas Tech. It is hard to get a read on Tech since they played some real cupcakes early on but the Red Raiders also battled gamely before losing to No. 2 Texas 34-24 in Austin earlier this season.
What concerns me about Texas Tech is the way they play run defense, ranking 28th in the nation in rush defense but have also had trouble in allowing teams to convert too many third downs.
The Huskers are coming off a highly emotional comeback win under adverse conditions and a lot of people across the country are starting to say really good things about our team. Texas Tech is a quality opponent with an unusual style of ball.
Second-year Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini and staff, however, have done a fantastic job of having the Huskers team move on from one game to the next. I just feel like this week may be a big challenge in that area.
The next game will tell us a lot about how the rest of the year's going to go.
Texas Tech, however, is not likely to sneak up on Nebraska based on scoring 66 against K-State. True, K-State is a sorry ass teams, but 66 is 66. If they had won say 38-12, we might have fallen asleep. Not now.
I do believe that Nebraska has the ability to beat just about anyone on the remaining schedule. On the other hand, I don't think the Huskers are so good that they could not be beaten by any of those teams either.
One observation I will make is that the evidence before us so far is that NU has closed the gap between themselves and other ranked teams. (exhibit 1 – Virginia Tech; exhibit 2 - Missouri).
Next week we will see whether this evidence was misleading or whether it is a sign of a positive trend.