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November 23, 2012

Iowa keys to victory and HOL predictions

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Nebraska will try to clinch the Legends Division title today in Iowa City as they get ready to take on a struggling Iowa Hawkeye team that's lost their last five games.

As things get close to kickoff, here are today's keys to a Husker victory. NU enters today's match-up as a 15 point favorite over Iowa.

Win up front

On paper the match-up between Nebraska and Iowa's lines isn't even close. The Huskers lead the Big Ten in rushing yards, while the Hawkeyes are last. NU ranks towards the top of the league in both tackles for loss and quarterback sacks, while Iowa also ranks last in both categories.

With that said in order to win this game the Huskers need to take advantage of the fact Iowa hasn't been able to dominate anyone up front all season.

If their line can protect quarterback Taylor Martinez and shut down Iowa's run game, Nebraska has a very good chance of winning today.

Pressuring Vandenberg

Iowa's James Vandenberg is the type of quarterback NU head coach Bo Pelini makes a living off of.

Vandenberg is zero threat to run with the football, which means Pelini can drop seven in coverage more often than not, and also disguise different blitz packages.

Finding ways to get affective pressure on Vandenberg will be a big key for Nebraska, especially with their front four.

The turnover game

The one way Iowa increases their chances of winning this game on Friday is if the Husker offense or special teams has costly turnovers.

The Hawkeyes actually rank towards the top in the Big Ten in turnover margin, which is always a statistic you should play attention too.

Exploit Iowa's lack of speed

No offense in the Big Ten has the type of speed on the perimeter like Nebraska's. Last week we saw offensive coordinator Tim Beck call several quick screen plays in space that eventually led to big gains.

That should be there again today, as I expect the Huskers to have a major speed advantage on the edge over the Hawkeyes.

Play with focus and purpose

Nebraska can't afford a slow start today. They need to send a message to Iowa that they're in Iowa City on a business trip with the next stop Indianapolis.

I feel like in order to keep the positive momentum going into next week it will be important for the Huskers to not only win, but to look good doing it at the same time. If NU can come up with a similar performance to last week's, it's going to go a long way in boasting this team's confidence heading into the Big Ten Championship game.

Callahan's weekly predictions

Iowa doesn't have the fire power or explosion to keep up with Nebraska's offense. I look for the Huskers to strike early, which will put the Hawkeyes in a hole they aren't really built to come out of.

Nebraska 38 Iowa 17
Ohio State 27 Michigan 20
Penn State 20 Wisconsin 13
Michigan State 26 Minnesota 13
UCLA 31 Stanford 30

Season Record: 39-15 overall; 38-16 vs. points

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