Nugent: A couple of the Huskers weaknesses play right into the Hawkeyes hands
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - To have a shot at winning this game, to be in it, in the second half here’s what needs to happen. The offense needs to take care of the ball, before getting beat 5-0 in the turnover battle last week against Illinois Nebraska forced as many turnovers as it gave up, 5-5. Now that number is 10-5. Which is 118th best in the country, not a recipe for success. Iowa on the other side has a +7 turnover margin. They get after you a lot like Northwestern and rarely give the ball up.
The running defense has to improve, especially big chunk plays. If the Huskers can eliminate the big ones the numbers will improve greatly. As it is, they’re allowing 223 yards per game which is second worst in the conference and 115th in the nation. Iowa has a good running game, but not great. They go for 181 a game. The Huskers will be challenged again.
Nebraska needs points, the offense is only delivering 20 a game. The defense scored in the only win, NU has to find a way to win without a defensive touchdown. The team is 106th in the nation in scoring offense.
NU is only averaging 176 yards a game through the air. That’s not ideal but there are paths to victory and the Huskers threw for even less than that in the win against Penn State. Luke had 152 passing yards on 21 attempts that day. To get away with it the defense needs to impact the game in a big way and it did against the Nittany Lions. You can rely on that though from an offensive perspective, the offense needs explosion plays, which have been rare this year.
Third down, it’s bad on both sides. The offense is only converting 32%, that’s 111th in the nation. The defense is giving up first downs 54% of the time, that’s 121st in the nation. You can’t win like this, it wears a defense down. The defense itself only gets off the field half the time which leads to more work plus the offense struggles to put drives together that chew up the clock. Therefore the blackshirts aren’t spending much time on the sideline catching it’s breathe. It’s ugly but there’s hope, Iowa isn’t too good here either. The Hawkeyes are in the bottom half of the Big Ten on both sides of the ball on third down.
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