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November 21, 2009

Callahan's take: Huskers will wrap-up North today

At the beginning of the season if you would've told me that today's game against Kansas State would decide the Big 12 North, I would've thought you were crazy. However, as we sit here on Nov. 21, today's KSU vs. NU game is the unofficial Big 12 North Championship game.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are five keys to a Husker victory over the Wildcats today in Lincoln. Nebraska enters today's games as a 16 point favorite over Kansas State.

Stop KSU's running game

No matter how good Nebraska's defense is, Bill Snyder is going to try to run the football today with running back Daniel Thomas.

The biggest key for the Blackshirts is to limit Thomas as much as possible and keep him in check on the ground. If Thomas is able to average 4 to 5 yards per carry today, the Wildcats will stay in this game all the way to the end. Snyder wants to slow the tempo of this game by keeping the football on the ground and limiting the overall possessions.

Playing physical on offense

We saw it last week at Kansas and the week before against Oklahoma, but once again Nebraska's offense needs to come out today with a physical edge. They need to impose their will on KSU and let them know they plan to run the football and control the line of scrimmage on offense.

If the Huskers can do this today, it will once against set up the play action pass plays to Niles Paul and the tight ends.

Keep Banks in check

When I look at Kansas State's Brandon Banks, I see a combination of Dante Hall and Darren Sproles. KSU doesn't have a lot of weapons on offense, but when you have a guy like Banks that can go the distance at any moment you have to be aware of him at all times.

I will be very curious to see what NU's kicking strategy is to Banks. Last year he ran a kick back against the Huskers. My guess is if Adi Kunalic can't put the ball through the end zone, Nebraska will be very directional with where they kick to the ball to him.

Win the turnover battle

One of the ways Kansas State has had success this year in the games they've won is winning the turnover battle.

On paper Nebraska has the edge over Kansas State in several different areas, but as we saw against Iowa State turnovers can be the ultimate equalizer. Quarterback Zac Lee and running back Roy Helu have been good about limiting their mistakes the last few weeks, let's hope that trend continues today.

Senior day emotion

I love the fact this is a night game. With senior day already, I think Nebraska has a lot of intangible factors working on their side.

The crowd noise really played a factor in the Oklahoma game and I expect it to play a factor again tonight. I expect to see a sound performance from the Huskers defense and another efficient outing from the offense.

Book your hotel rooms to Dallas, as I've got the Huskers winning and covering the 16 point spread.

Callahan's Prediction:Nebraska 31 Kansas State 10
Season Record: 7-3 overall; 6-4 vs. points

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