College Football Preview: Nebraska vs. Ball State Print
Thursday, 20 September 2007 15:00

Huskers Battle Cardinals

Nebraska's hopes of competing for a national title seem to be dashed, but coach Bill Callahan is determined not to let that ruin the season.

Following a one-sided loss to the top-ranked team in the nation, the No. 24 Cornhuskers try to bounce back against Ball State on Saturday when they conclude non-conference play.

Nebraska (2-1) finished out of last season's final AP poll, and hasn't been ranked in the top 10 since 2003 - Frank Solich's last year as coach.

The Cornhuskers were hoping to pull the upset at home against No. 1 Southern California last Saturday, but lost 49-31. Nebraska trailed 49-17 before getting two touchdowns in the final five minutes against the Trojans' reserves, resulting in a final score that wasn't indicative of USC's domination.

"It's beyond disappointing,'' All-Big 12 linebacker Bo Ruud said. "This is a real bad performance by our team. It's on the players. We didn't do a good job on the defensive side of the ball. The defense did not show up today.

"You can't go in the tank after a game like this."

The loss dropped the Huskers 10 spots in the Top 25, but Callahan does not want his squad dwelling on the defeat.

"I love our team, I love our opportunities," Callahan said. "It's the third game of the season. We plan on playing 14. It's very early on, so anything can happen. It's a long season. We'll see how it all turns out."

Sam Keller was 36-for-54 for 389 yards with two touchdowns, but 169 yards and both scores came late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. Keller, who has five interceptions and four touchdowns on the season, was picked off on Nebraska's first two series of the second half, leading to a Trojan TD each time.

The Huskers gained 528 yards on the ground in their first two games before being held to 31 yards on 28 carries by USC. Junior Marlon Lucky had 33 yards on 17 carries Saturday after rushing for 323 yards and four TDs on 54 attempts in the first two contests.

Lucky and the Huskers look to revive their ground game against the Cardinals (2-1), who allowed 537 rushing yards in their 34-31 overtime win at Navy last Saturday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global  have made Nebraska -23 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game, the over/under has been set at 61 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 86% of bets for this game have been placed on Nebraska -23 (View College Football bet percentages).

Ball State has allowed 806 rushing on the season, fifth-most in the nation.

"How we prepare ourselves this week will be huge," Cardinals coach Brady Hoke said. "(Nebraska is) a good football team and a lot of fun to watch. I think we've got to prepare and play our best. We need to play with great toughness and great effort in order to hang in there and hold our own."

Nebraska also had a tough time stopping the run Saturday, allowing 313 yards and five touchdowns on 38 attempts. USC's 8.2 yards per carry was the highest ever against the Huskers.

"We've got to get better. We've got to get better,'' Callahan said.

Saturday's loss was just Nebraska's second non-conference home defeat since 1991. It has not lost consecutive home games since Oct. 8 and 29, 2005.

Ball State has won three straight road games and seven of its last 10 away from Muncie.

The Cardinals amassed a season-high 539 yards of offense in their victory at Annapolis last Saturday, winning on Jake Hogue's 24-yard field goal in overtime.

Ball State forced overtime when Brandon Crawford blocked a 32-yard field-goal attempt as time expired. On the first play of the extra period, the Cardinals recovered a Navy fumble, setting up the winning score.

Nate Davis completed 19 of 31 passes for 277 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and also ran for a score against the Midshipmen. The sophomore has passed for 781 yards, eight TDs and one INT this season.

Ball State has not defeated a ranked team since beating No. 25 Toledo 24-20 on Oct. 20, 2001.

This will be the first meeting between the Cardinals and Huskers.

A Nebraska win Saturday would allow the team to enter conference play with one loss or less for the 26th straight season.

by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us

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