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October 18, 2008

Saturday's keys to victory against Iowa State

AMES, Iowa - The Nebraska football team will try to snap their three game losing streak today when they travel to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames to take on an Iowa State team that is also on a losing streak of their own.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are five keys to victory for the Huskers (3-3, 0-2) as they prepare for today's match-up with the Cyclones (2-4, 0-2).

Carrying over the momentum

Even though the Huskers lost last week at Texas Tech, they were still able to build up quite a bit of momentum. It's clear the players have a strong belief in head coach Bo Pelini and where he wants to take this football program.

Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini said at Friday's Big Red Breakfast in Omaha that this was the best week of practice he's ever been around in his coaching career. If that statement holds up to be true, expect another strong performance today from the Huskers in Ames.

Keeping it simple

Carl Pelini said part of the reason why NU had so much success last week in Lubbock was the staff really stepped back and evaluated what the strengths of this football team are, and they built around them.

The Missouri loss really opened the eyes of this coaching staff and helped them make several changes for the good. One of the big changes they made was simplifying both the offensive and defensive schemes.

Pelini doesn't want his players over thinking when they are on the field-he wants them to just play. Expect another game plan today that is basic and allows Nebraska's playmakers like Marlon Lucky and Larry Asante to shine.

Turnovers

Nebraska's defense has failed to force a turnover the last three games. When Pelini came to Nebraska, I think people just assumed forcing turnovers would just happen because of his scheme and coaching mindset.

That obviously hasn't happened, and on Monday Pelini talked to his team about the importance of forcing turnovers before they began their preparations for the Cyclones.

Another thing you have to watch in this game is ISU actually leads the Big 12 Conference in turnover margin at plus seven. ISU does not turn it over much, and head coach Gene Chizik finds ways to get turnovers with his attack style defense.

Limit coverage busts

Last week, Texas Tech was able to beat Nebraska's defense because of multiple different coverage busts by the secondary.

When you are playing a team like Iowa State that has limited playmakers on offense, you cannot afford to have those types of busts in the secondary. Nebraska has to limit their coverage busts and make Iowa State's offense earn everything they get.

Don't give the crowd any reason to believe

Even though there will be a big Nebraska crowd in Jack Trice today, NU will still be outnumbered by quite a bit by the Cyclone faithful.

Nebraska cannot let this crowd have any reason to believe early. This is a game the Huskers should win by 10 to 14 points if they play to their capability. The key is just keeping it simple and eliminating the mental errors. If Nebraska can get off to a quick start, they should win this one going away.

PREDICTION: Nebraska 38 Iowa State 27


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