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Date: Thursday, October 7
Matchup: #7 Nebraska (4-0, 0-0 Big 12) at Kansas State (4-0, 1-0 Big 12)
TV: 7:30 PM ESPN
Venue: Wagner Field (FieldTurf)
Sports.com Line: Nebraska -12 O/U 50.5
It’s always sad to see traditions die. College football has many great traditions along with many classic traditional rivalries. And while Nebraska and Kansas State will likely never be mistaken for Ohio State vs. Michigan or Army vs. Navy, make no mistake – this is a traditional Big 12 rivalry. The Cornhuskers and the Wildcats…it just sounds like Big 12 football.
And so it’s with more than a twinge of sadness that we take a look at this Thursdays matchup of the week as Nebraska travels to Kansas State for the last time. Sure, they might hook up a few years down the road but it likely won’t be as members of the same conference and if it is, I can guarantee you it won’t be as members of the Big 12.
Unless you’ve been allergic to college athletics news over of the past couple of months, you’ve likely heard about the news that has caused this traditional rivalry – and many others – to die. The college football landscape is changing in regards to the makeup of its conferences. Nebraska jumping the Big 12 ship and heading to Big 10 land was probably the biggest move from this summer but there were other casualties of this shake up as well.
So while Nebraska is rolling in all that Big Ten Network money they will soon get to reap, college football fans will have to get used to some new rivalries. I guess if we want to see the Big Red of Nebraska take on a team in purple for a conference showdown then we need to start pumping up that great Nebraska vs. Northwestern game! Yeah, hold your nose and try to swallow that one.
But at least this Thursday night we get to savor one last Big 12 clash between two rivals who have squared off against one another every year since 1922. For those scoring at home, Nebraska has pretty much owned this series with a 77-15-2 record. However, even though Nebraska is currently riding a five-game winning streak in the series, the Wildcats can take some confidence from the fact that five of their 15 wins have come over the past 12 years.
To notch one last win in this series – at least in the Big 12 record book – the boys in purple and silver in Manhattan, Kansas need to bring their best effort against the visitors in red from Lincoln, Nebraska.
Both teams bring perfect 4-0 records into this game along with punishing ground games. Nebraska currently has the 3rd best rushing attack in Division 1-A football. The engine of that attack thus far has been quarterback Taylor Martinez. The redshirt freshman signal caller – bringing back memories of the great Eric Crouch, has averaged 124 rushing yards per game - 11th most in the country - and has rushed for eight touchdowns.
Martinez started 2010 with three straight 100-yard rushing games, but wasn’t able to keep his streak alive against South Dakota State on Sept. 25 when he was held to 75 yards on 13 carries. The Jackrabbits were obviously well aware of Martinez and they stuck an extra defender to shadow him all night.
You can bet Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has reviewed tape of that game more than once and I’d say it’s likely the Wildcats will mimic that defensive strategy to some degree. Kansas State, which is allowing a Big 12-worst 195.5 rushing yards per game, will certainly need to figure out some scheme to stop the Cornhuskers on the ground because once they get rolling they can be hard to stop. Just ask the Washington Huskies who were drilled 56-21 at home when Nebraska rushed for 383 yards.
Kansas State’s best answer to that Cornhusker ground game might come via their own rushing attack. The Wildcats know a little something about running the ball as well and Snyder’s crew has the 22nd ranked rushing attack in the country.
For K State, their main weapon is RB Daniel Thomas who, like Martinez, has topped 100 yards in three out of four games this season. Against Central Florida, Thomas basically got the same treatment that Martinez was served against South Dakota State. The Golden Knights loaded the box against Thomas resulting in just 76 yards for the running back. Nebraska’s defense – aka the “Blackshirts – have been a stingy bunch this season, only surrendering 12.8 points a game, tied for seventh fewest in the nation. Like the Wildcats will be keying on Martinez, you can be sure the Blackshirts will be waiting for Thomas.
With that backdrop, it would seem logical that whichever team can muster the best passing attack this Thursday night will have the best chance to win. Kansas State QB Carson Coffman has not proven to be a serious threat passing the ball yet, as evidenced by the fact the Wildcats are ranked 100th in passing. The team one spot ahead of them in passing? Nebraska.
Nebraska is 1-1 against the spread in 2010 while Kansas State is 2-1 ATS.