Scott Frost fans in Nebraska are still waiting patiently for the team’s first win, as the Cornhuskers are off to an 0-5 start for the first time since 1945. After proving the naysayers wrong last week against Michigan State, NU looks to keep the momentum going at home this weekend.
Why Northwestern will beat Nebraska
1. Clayton Thorson will take advantage of a struggling defense
With more than a few players set to watch the game on the sidelines due to injuries, including linebackers Mohamed Barry and Dedrick Young, Nebraska is hurting. Frost had the team take off the pads for Monday’s practice — a nod to the team’s fatigue. The Huskers have let opposing offenses have some fun recently, allowing 40 or more points in six straight conference games. It took some time for Clayton Thorson to find his footing this season, but in the last three games he has accounted for eight touchdowns. After a strong week with against a better defense in Michigan State, look for Thorson to show up big this Saturday.
2. Nebraska’s track record this season
The Huskers fell to Purdue by a double-digit margin — a team that Northwestern defeated week one on the road. Michigan pummeled Nebraska (granted, QB Adrian Martinez wasn’t at full strength), whereas Northwestern held a lead over Michigan up until the fourth quarter. Although arguments in football hinging on transitive property often don’t hold up, Northwestern has been the better team this season.
3. Northwestern will come out in the second half firing on all cylinders
Second-half play has been a touchy subject for NU this season. Northwestern let a late game lead against Michigan slip away because it couldn’t muster any second-half points. Northwestern couldn’t hang with Duke because of the same reason. But the Wildcats took a step in the right direction last week, scoring at least seven in every quarter of play — a refreshing sight for frustrated Northwestern fans.
Why Northwestern will fall to Nebraska
1. An abysmal rushing performance... again
Clayton Thorson erupted for close to 400 passing yards and three TD throws last week, and Northwestern is awfully lucky he did because the rushing game certainly wasn’t there to back him up. Northwestern, as a team, rushed for fewer yards than the number of fingers on my hands. While the embarrassing rushing performance was forgotten as Thorson stole the spotlight, it’s important to consider what happens if he isn’t tossing dimes out on the field this Saturday. Against a rushing defense that’s ranked No. 109 nationally, Northwestern will need to capitalize to post a W.
2. Adrian Martinez will run circles around the ‘Cats
Martinez is the real deal. He’s busy setting school freshman records, posting well over 400 yards of total offense, and, oh yeah, running all over defenses — his rushing average just north of 60 yards is good for second among Big Ten quarterbacks. But his rushing average doesn’t tell the whole story; Martinez extends plays with his legs, which might not pop up in the box score, but certainly can terrorize a defense. “He’s a magician right now,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said of Martinez.
3. We don’t know what Northwestern team we’ll see
As an NU fan, every Saturday is exciting; we see a different team seemingly every weekend. One Saturday they’ll hang with Michigan until the bitter end. But just a couple of weeks before that, they folded to the Akron Zips. As of right now, we still haven’t seen enough consistency in all facets of the game in order to know what we’re really in store for on a weekly basis.