No. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0, 1-3 ATS) at Kansas State Wildcats (4-0, 2-2 ATS), Week 6 College Football, Thursday October 7th, 7:30PM Eastern Bill Snyder Stadium Manhattan, K.S.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Neb -12/KState +12
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Kansas State Wildcats will host the no. 7 Nebraska Cornhuskers in an exciting Big 12 North division battle this Thursday night on ESPN. Nebraska has been solid through the opening weeks of the season, but they have yet to face a team that could challenge them in their opening 4 contests. Kansas State on the other hand knocked off UCLA in the opener while also taking down division foe Iowa State just two weeks ago. The Wildcats, who are also maintaining a perfect 4-0 record, have one of the most solid teams they have had in years with anticipations to make a fight towards a Big 12 Championship appearance. However, the Cornhuskers have won 5 straight over the Wildcats and look to extend that streak when they roll into Manhattan, Kansas.
Remember that crazy defense the Cornhuskers had last year led by Ndamukong Suh? Well Suh may be gone, but the Cornhuskers still have the best defense in the Big 12. Through their first 4 games, the Nebraska defense has held teams to just 265 yards per game to rank the defensive unit as the 11th best total defense in the country. The defense is just getting the job done ranking 3rd in pass defense holding teams to 126 yards per game, ranking 1st in defensive pass efficiency, and also holding teams to just 12.75 points per game as well.
Yep those numbers are just scary and will have offensive coordinators losing sleep when studying film for preparation. Kansas State was only able to muster out 17 points in last weeks win over UCF last week and they should have an even tougher time this week. However even if the Nebraska defense shows up as advertised against the Wildcats offense, the Cornhuskers offense still must find ways to score. The Cornhuskers offense will face the best defense they have seen to date this season in Kansas State so it will be interesting to see if the offense can keep pace with their 471 yards per game average they have posted in their first 4 games.
On offense, the Cornhuskers appear like the Nebraska from the Eric Crouch era. QB Taylor Martinez leads the team in rushing with 496 yards in that option style rushing offense the Cornhuskers are executing to perfection. Outside of Martinez, both tailbacks Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead have eclipsed the 300 yard mark on the season. Both backs are also averaging over 7 yards per carry. With so many talented runners in the backfield, it is easy to see why the rushing offense has been so difficult to defend. Helu Jr may be the most special runner out of the group and perhaps the biggest big play threat so keep an eye on him especially under the national spotlight on ESPN.
However outside of the rushing attack which is among the nations best at 309 yards per game, the passing offense has been mainly non-existent. Martinez has just 532 yards passing through 4 games with 2 touchdowns and 3 picks. WR Brandon Kinnie can be a factor if defenses fall asleep anticipating the run, but the focus for the Wildcats defense must be stopping the run first to force Martinez into more throwing situations.
That particular task may be very difficult considering the Wildcats have given up 195 yards per game on the ground this year, but they simply have to stack the box and make plays. The Wildcats pass defense has been very solid this year so I do not think that they will give up any big plays through the air, but the big questions left to be answered is if they can stop the Cornhuskers rushing attack?
On the Kansas State offensive side of the ball, they should be able to move the football and pick up some first downs. Senior running back Daniel Thomas has been a monster this season rushing for 628 yards and 6 touchdowns in just 4 games. Thomas has been averaging about 26 touches per game and that makes his 6.0 yards per carry average even more impressive considering the amount of touches with the ball. The Wildcats offense thrives off their running game and that will be where they attack the Cornhuskers defense this Thursday night.
Behind center QB Carson Coffman is completing 60% passing with 5 scores and 2 picks. However, Coffman has only thrown for 629 yards in 4 games. One problem that Coffman has faced is having enough time to throw the football. The Wildcats have given up 11 sacks on the season and just have not been able to provide Coffman enough time to throw the football. I do not expect that to change against the Cornhuskers defense this Thursday night, therefore all emphasis for the offenses is getting their running game going. The team that can get the running game moving and get some points on the board early will have a big advantage in this game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Home teams have killed it on Thursday night’s this season and Kansas State is getting a lot of points in what I think could be a close game. Take the Wildcats.
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