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Tuesday, September 12
Kansas State vs. Nebraska




Rosters: Kansas State | Nebraska
Statistics: Kansas State | Nebraska

Quarterbacks
Edge: Nebraska
I think there's something going on with Jonathan Beasley. I don't know what it is. I don't know if he is just having a bout of inconsistency or if he's a little banged up. He missed a lot of the last ballgame. He sat out about six series in the second half. The offense struggled last week. He and backup Adam Helm combined to complete only six passes. Beasley has completed 46 percent this season. I'm sure part of that is due to the injuries in the offensive backfield. He may be feeling more pressure. Eric Crouch, on the other hand, is coming off a very good game in which he had 137 yards rushing. He is the No. 1 passer in the Big 12 now. I like his interception-touchdown ratio. And he's playing at home. It's a veteran quarterback in a big game against an inexperienced quarterback who has been struggling lately.

GILMORE'S GRADES
Kansas State   Nebraska
  QB X
  RB X
X WR/TE  
  OL X
X DL  
X LB X
X DB X
  Special teams X
  Coaching X

Running backs
Edge: Nebraska
Injuries play a big factor in this category. Joe Hall will start and carry most of the load for the Wildcats. Kansas State has gone on record saying that they need to watch the 290-pound Hall. He is not in the best shape and can't run him on 10-12 consecutive plays. They may not have enough depth with injuries to David Allen and Frank Murphy, who says he is only 60-65 percent. They will struggle yards offensively. They rushed for only 96 yards last week against Colorado. They will have a tougher time against the sixth-ranked defense against the run in the country. For Nebraska, Dan Alexander has been really hot. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the last four games, including 135 yards and a touchdown against Texas A&M.; Their running game seems to be finding its stride. You toss Crouch into the mix, the quarterback acting like a running back. He had 137 yards last week, his best game of the year.

Receivers/Tight ends
Edge: Kansas State
The Kansas State receivers merit the edge. This is the matchup that works best in the Wildcats' favor, with Quincy Morgan and Aaron Lockett. Between them, they have 66 catches and 10 touchdowns. They won't run well against Nebraska, so Morgan and Lockett will have to make plays. The 10 touchdowns show they can make plays. I like them compared to Bobby Newcombe coming around as a receiver.

Offensive line
Edge: Nebraska
If you look at the Kansas State offensive line, by the numbers they have struggled. There are more than just numbers in Nebraska's favor. In the last couple of games, the Wildcats have had a number of false starts and holding calls, killing their drives. That's a function of inexperience and, injuries in the backfield. They are just out of sync. Nebraska have linemen playing well. The 'Huskes have the No. 6 ranked rushing offense in the country. They start off slowly but eventually wear people down. It's your typical Nebraska offensive line.

Defensive line
Edge: Kansas State
Overall, the edge goes to Kansas State because as a group the Wildcats have a more athletic line. They have the No. 12 run defense. Defensive ends Monty Beisel and Darren Howard can turn it on and get after Crouch. They should be really effective against the option. Nebraska has a good defensive line, and Steve Warren is a stellar nose tackle, with 11 tackles for losses and six sacks. The 'Huskers defense is ranked No. 6 against the rush. I don't think that Kansas State has anyone who can handle Warren inside. But Kansas State as a group is so active and should give Nebraska problems.

Linebackers
Edge: Even
Mark Simoneau sticks out for Kansas State, with 16 tackles for losses. But as a group, the Wildcat linebackers are at their best when they are attacking. Bill Snyder will turn them loose to attack the option and Crouch on the edge. They will force the action right away. That's when Kansas State plays at its best. Nebraska's front seven is as good as any other group the 'Huskers have had, even going back to 1997. Carlos Polk, Tony Ortiz and Eric Johnson are all having great years. They dealt with Michael Bishop last year, and Bishop got the better of them. Beasley is not going to be like Bishop. The linebackers should pressure Beasley and take away his ability to get outside. I'm not sure he will get to the corner on them at all. Both groups of linebackers should have great games.

Defensive backs
Edge: Even
For Kansas State, the defensive backs who will most important for them will be their safeties, getting them involved in stopping the Nebraska option. Jarrod Cooper and Lamar Chapman will make a lot of tackles and hover around the line of scrimmage. The key for them is not to get lulled to sleep so on the option pass they give up a big touchdown. On the other hand, Nebraska's secondary will have to match up with Lockett and Morgan. Cornerback Ralph Brown and rover Mike Brown will be critical especially if Kansas State plays two receivers on one side. The Cornhuskers will either have to bring both corners over or have Mike Brown play the No. 2 receiver. Mike Brown is coming off a great game last week, with two interceptions and a forced fumble. Both secondaries have favorable defensive matchups.

Special teams
Edge: Nebraska
In the return game, you have Bobby Newcombe on Nebraska and David Allen on Kansas State. Because of Allen's ankle injury and Newcombe playing at home, I give the latter the edge. Allen is listed as questionable for the game, but he still brought a punt back last week that was nullified by penalty. In terms of kicking, Kansas State's Jamie Rheem has hit 15 field goals in a row. Nebraska's Josh Brown has struggled at times. I think playing at home, Brown will be the most comfortable kicker. There will more pressure on Rheem because the Kansas State offense will struggle. Every kick for Rheem will be huge. It won't be quite the same for Brown at home.

Coaching
Edge: Kansas State
I like the fact that in two games, against Iowa State and Oklahoma State, Kansas State had trouble in the first half and made adjustments during halftime that turned the game around. Against common opponents, Kansas State did a great job against Texas, and Nebraska lost to Texas, despite playing a great game. Nevertheless, the 'Huskers blew the game. Nebraska could have found a way to win, and didn't. So I will give Bill Snyder the edge for the in-game adjustments he and his coaching staff have made in games where they could have and should have lost.

Overall
Edge: Nebraska
The difference will be the Cornhuskers playing in Lincoln, where they have beaten Kansas State since 1968. The other factor will be quarterback play. Nebraska has an experienced quarterback playing at home against Kansas State with an inexperienced quarterback on the road. Usually, that means turnovers. Beasley has never played in a game of this magnitude.


Game of the Week


ALSO SEE
Respect an issue for K-State with Nebraska

Kansas State hoping to start Big 12 North dynasty

Chalk Talk: Allen vs. Newcombe

Midwest: Mild schedule hurts Wildcats

College football Top 25 overview

Herbstreit's viewer's guide


VIDEO video
 Brooks Bollinger finds Chris Chambers in the end zone for Wisconsin's first score.
avi: 716 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

 K-State's Mark Simoneau picks off a Major Applewhite pass.
avi: 852 k
RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1




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