I was looking back at the first posts made on RMN recently...and it reminded me that last year, along with the BTBS piece, I threw together a unit-by-unit preview of the upcoming game as well. How's about we try that again?
Oh yeah, and leave your own predictions and/or random comments in the comments below.
QB vs QB
I can honestly say without hesitation that Mizzou would win this category against any team in the country. This one needs no explanation. Advantage: Mizzou.
MU RBs vs NU LBs
I'll say this: Cody Glenn has worked out better at LB than I thought he would--you'd figure there would be a one-year transition period, but he's stepped up well and is leading the Huskers in tackles from his weakside LB position. He's even 3rd on the team in tackles for loss, plus he's broken up three passes and forced a fumble. Problem is, his counterparts have been underwhelming. Phillip Dillard is okay, but the strongside LB position has produced next to nothing. Granted, they'll likely be in a nickel most of Saturday, but regardless, this LB unit is still limited.
Oh yeah, and Derrick Washington is really, really good. Advantage: Mizzou.
MU WRs/TEs vs NU DBs
NU Secondary = work in progress. MU receiving corps = best in America. Advantage: Mizzou.
MU O-line vs NU D-line
This is an interesting matchup; it will probably be where the game is decided. The starting front four for Nebraska--Zach Potter, Ndamukong Suh, Ty Steinkuhler, and Pierre Allen--has been downright solid for the Huskers. There are two problems, however.
1) Though we've heard pretty good things about freshman DE Cameron Meredith, there is almost no depth whatsoever with this unit. Their rotation is small, which means either a) they continue with their small rotation against Missouri and wear down by the third quarter, or b) they open up a big rotation to keep guys fresh, and a lot of guys who are either too inexperienced or not good enough to have earned playing time get a lot of snaps. Either way, that's a bad thing for Nebraska.
2) Illinois' D-line is likely better than the Husker unit, and Illinois got little to no pressure on Chase Daniel. Maybe you've heard this once or twice on RMN, ahem, but getting pressure on Chase Daniel with your front four is your only means of survival against the Mizzou offense. Elvis Fisher and Colin Brown are proving to be a ridiculously good set of bookend tackles.
In other words, Advantage: Mizzou.
NU RBs vs MU LBs
Even though I've never been as high on Marlon Lucky as some, I still always saw him as a solid back, particularly on 3rd down. He's picking a bad time to not live up to even my expectations. Granted, there's still a lot of time left in his senior season, but he just hasn't been very dynamic at all. Sophomore Roy Helu Jr. seems to have passed him in terms of potential and upside, and fellow sophomore Quentin Castille is getting the short-yardage carries. It's now a three-headed RB attack for Nebraska, and last week's 15-carry, 46-yard performance from the RBs against Virginia Tech didn't exactly fill me with the fear that Nebraska will be able to control the pace and grind out the clock with the running game. They'll have to rely on the short passing game for that.
Oh yeah, and Brock Christopher and Sean Weatherspoon are freaking fantastic. Advantage: Mizzou.
NU WRs/TEs vs MU DBs
I realize I'm a lot more confident than some regarding the Mizzou secondary. I think an 85%-healthy William Moore is still possibly the best safety in the conference, and I think Carl Gettis continues to be the most underrated defensive player in the country. Seriously, people haven't started wondering why seemingly every #1 WR playing Mizzou in the last 18 games has been a complete non-factor? Gettis is the primary reason why, and while I'm sure Nate Swift will get some catches, the Huskers will likely have to rely on other receivers for the big-play threat.
The Huskers have some potential at WR--I like big Menelik Holt quite a bit, and Niles Paul has proven himself valuable in the return game at least (which means there's some athletic potential there). Plus, Todd Peterson is nothing if not steady. I can see a solid 5-catch, 65-yard day out of him. And any day now, Chris Brooks is going to live up to his 4-star billing. Just kidding.
This unit doesn't scare me to death, and since half of Mizzou's secondary is as rock solid as rock solid gets, I'm almost giving Mizzou the advantage here. But until the unit gels as a whole--until whatever communication problems that have existed get remedied, and until a consistent second CB comes to the forefront--I can't do it. Advantage: Nebraska.
NU O-line vs MU D-line
It's been hard to figure out the Mizzou defensive line. Ziggy Hood dominated August practices like no other--not a day went by when a new story of him torturing a right guard didn't emerge--but he didn't do a whole lot against Illinois. He's steadily improved each game since, but we'll see what he can do against another BCS-level O-line. Meanwhile, Stryker Sulak was amazing against Illinois, but he's done next to nothing since. He's actually been outplayed by fellow starting DE Tommy "Perpetually Underrated" Chavis. If Sulak, Chavis and Hood ever start finding a rhythm at the same time, the sky is the limit with this unit.
Meanwhile, the NU O-line has been...decent. Not great, not terrible...not a strength, not a liability. If Sulak's only playing okay, this matchup is a draw. But big games bring out good things from him, so...Advantage: Mizzou.
As I mentioned the other day in my BTBS piece, Nebraska's got a solid special teams unit. Problem is, Mizzou's got a really, really good one. Advantage: Mizzou.
The first time a Gary Pinkel team took on a Bo Pelini defense, this happened. Oh yeah, and only one of the two head coaches has thrown a hissy fit on the sidelines and gotten his team a crippling penalty because of it. Hint: it wasn't Pinkel. Advantage: Mizzou.
Here's a tough one. Thirty years of bad results in Lincoln = Advantage: Nebraska. Chase Daniel wanting to avenge the worst performance of his career = Advantage: Mizzou. Because I'm a still-scarred Mizzou fan, I'll lean toward the latter, but barely. Advantage: Nebraska.
You know what? The scars healed last year. Advantage: Mizzou.
That's a 9-1 advantage for Mizzou. Throw in home-field advantage, and it's 9-2. I'll say one more time that we're going to get everything Nebraska has tomorrow, but you know what? It's not going to be enough. I'll stick with what I said on Tuesday: Mizzou 45, Nebraska 24.