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October 23, 2010

Callahan's take: NU will get back on track

STILLWATER, Okla. - The Nebraska football team will take the field today in Stillwater with their backs against the wall.

The Huskers are trying to find themselves against after a disappointing 20-13 loss to Texas last week. As things get closer to kickoff here are the five keys to a Husker victory over the Cowboys. NU enters the game as a 6 point favorite over OSU.

Make an early play on offense

Nebraska's offense needs to send an early message to Oklahoma State's defense that they aren't Texas. NU needs to make a play early and let Taylor Martinez do what he did the first five games.

If Martinez can break an early run or create something in the passing game, you really have to like NU's chances to win this game. If the offense struggles early and the Huskers get into a hole, it could be a long day in Stillwater.

Tackle, tackle and tackle

Not much more needs to be said about Nebraska's poor tackling effort against Texas. The Huskers missed 28 tackles. Head coach Bo Pelini called it the worst tackling game he's ever been a part of.

OSU is going to try to get NU in space on Saturday and force Nebraska into some open field tackling situations. It will be important for Nebraska to play with sound fundamentals, a trait we've always seen from Pelini's defenses.

The guy that really worries you is running back Kendall Hunter. It's pretty clear he's going to get 25 to 30 touches on Saturday and he will really test the tackling ability of this defense.

Force OSU into predictable situations

Oklahoma State is going to do their best to put their offense in manageable downs and distances. If they can do this, the Huskers will be off balanced on defense and they won't know what to expect.

If Nebraska can force the Cowboys into passing situations you really have to like the Huskers chances of forcing a few turnovers.

Hit the open receivers

The last few weeks Martinez has struggled at times seeing wide open receivers down field, particular over the middle.

The safeties and linebackers show so much respect to Martinez's running ability that often times the tight ends and inside receivers are wide open. Martinez needs to see this and get the ball to guys like Mike McNeill and Kyler Reed when they are wide open.

Hopefully six games of film study has helped Martinez realize the types of plays he's left on the field by missing open receivers like McNeill downfield.

Play with a sense of urgency

Nebraska needs to take the field with a purpose today. A lot of people are picking against the Huskers. These seem to be the perfect type of situation where Pelini's teams have thrived.

I fully expect a motivated Husker team to take the field today and stifle OSU with their defense, particularly their secondary.

Nebraska will bounce back and get their first win in Stillwater since 1995. I like NU to cover the 6 point spread and win 37-28.

Callahan's Prediction:Nebraska 37 Oklahoma State 28
Season Record: 5-1 overall; 4-2 vs. points



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