If there is one team in the Big Ten that has caused Nebraska fans to pull their hair out the most since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten, it could arguably be Northwestern. Champions of the Big Ten West in two of the last three seasons, the Wildcats have been known to throw Nebraska a few losses and are hoping to do so once again this weekend.
Nebraska (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) returns home after two difficult setbacks in gut-wrenching fashion against Oklahoma and Michigan State. After winning two games following their disaster of a season opener, the Huskers have looked better despite losing their two most recent games. At home this weekend against Northwestern (2-2, 0-1), Scott Frost and his program know they have to grab a win now because the path to an elusive bowl destination will be incredibly challenging the rest of the way.
Northwestern at Nebraska
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Nebraska -11.5
When Northwestern Has the Ball
Running back Evan Hull is coming off a big game against Ohio last week. Hull's 216 rushing yards earned him Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Big Ten, so it would be foolish for the Wildcats to avoid trying to get Hull heavily involved against Nebraska this weekend. The Cornhuskers are among the bottom teams in the conference against the run (139.2 ypg, 12th).
Nebraska has a couple of linebackers well worth your attention. Luke Reimer leads the Big Ten with 46 tackles through four games, and freshman Nick Henrich is already among the conference's tackle leaders as well.
When Nebraska Has the Ball
Quarterback Adrian Martinez has been having a pretty solid season without much celebration. He's only been intercepted twice thus far and one (vs. Oklahoma) is a contender for play of the year to this point. The Cornhuskers are still working on finishing drives with 14 touchdowns in 24 red zone trips. If they can't find a way to tack on points when they get inside their opponent's 20-yard line, then expect Northwestern to come back to haunt Nebraska yet again.
The Huskers enter the weekend with the Big Ten's third-ranked total offense with an average of 471.0 yards per game. Considering the Wildcats are 12th in the conference in total defense, Nebraska should be in a good position to get things on track for a win.
Simply put, at some point, the breaks have to fall Nebraska's way, and this appears to be the most likely game for that to happen. After two heartbreaking losses on the road against Oklahoma and Michigan State, the Cornhuskers will finally get a close one to go their way. It may not be pretty at times, but Martinez will find a way to lead his team to a win against Northwestern, a frequent tormentor of the Huskers over the years.
Prediction: Nebraska 24, Northwestern 20
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