LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 10: Jake Long #41 congratulates Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers after scoring a late touchdown to seal the win over Fresno State during their game at Memorial Stadium September 10, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 42-29.(Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
The wait is finally over Pokes fans. After a three year wait since the game was announced we are almost ready for kickoff. Some have labeled this the most anticipated game in Wyoming history but I wouldn't go that far. Nonconference game? Yes, but not biggest game ever. Conference games with a championship on the line have meant much for to the team and the fans.
The odds for this game started at 24.5 and have slowly shrunk the last few days currently sit at -21 in favor of Nebraska. There a few question marks for the Cornhuskers heading into this game. With their Big 10 debut against Wisconsin happening the following weekend this may mean that some players on the mend will not play this week. Star CB Alfonzo Dennard has missed the first three games due to injury but should see some snaps. Freshmen phenom kick returner Ameer Abdullah is also dealing with an ankle injury and is questionable. The biggest issue is whether or not star defensive linemen Jared Crick will play or not. The loss of Crick would certainly be a positive for the Wyoming offensive line.
The Pokes may have a couple players see their first action of the year this Saturday. TE Spencer Bruce had a strong fall camp but injured his knee and was expected to miss up to two months. He suited up last week but didn't see the field. The 6-4 225lb Bruce would add some nice size at tight end for Pokes. Junior safety Kenny Browder has missed the first three games due to a suspension but he may be reinstated before the game. If Browder plays he would be a big boost for the secondary which has looked soft. He was projected to start for the Cowboys till the suspension. Big defensive end Miraldo Michel may also see his first action as a Cowboy this weekend.
Check out some footage from the last time these two teams met way back in 1994.
Is this a trap game for Nebraska? Perhaps but if Pelini says it's not then we have to believe him, right? The combination of altitude, hyped up Wyoming team, upcoming road trip to Wisconsin may make this game closer then some believe. Hopefully this doesn't turn out like the Boise State game did last year.
Make sure you check out the Q&A that we did with Corn Nation earlier this week. Great insight into the Husker team there. Here is what the Huskers believe they need to do in order to beat the Cowboys.
Here are a few keys for Wyoming to pull off the victory here this weekend.
Attack the Secondary
Last week Keith Price from Washington burned the secondary for 274 yards and four touchdowns. Fresno State put up 254 yards the week before. Even Nebraska fans realize that the secondary is their Achilles heel right now and Wyoming needs to do everything to exploit that. Brett Smith is averaging 265 yards a game through the air so he all he needs to do is maintain that output. Not asking him to do anything that he hasn't already accomplished here.
Protect the Quarterback
The defensive line for Nebraska will be strong and aggressive and give Wyoming it's toughest challenge of the season yet. The offensive line has only given up two sacks this season and have really done a great job of giving Smith plenty of time in the pocket. If he has time to find his receivers then he will able to throw for some good yardage. Constat pressure could cause some mistakes here.
Don't Give Up the Big Play
Momentum will be crucial in this game. Wyoming hung close with Wyoming in the first half two years and then the wheels fell off. Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead will certainly gain yards on the ground, the Cowboys need to limit the amount of big gains. If the offense can maintain a lead in time of possesion that will also help the Cowboy defense from staying on the field for to long.
A closer game then expected and not as many points scored.
Nebraska 35 Wyoming 24