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HOW THE HUSKERS LIGHT UP THE SCOREBOARD

1. Martinez surprises. When Adrian Martinez went down with a right knee injury in the fourth quarter last week, it was hard not to wonder if he would be back this season. It turned out not to be serious, and if he makes it back to play this weekend, NU will be at its most dangerous.

2. Hold on tight. The Husker receivers and backs started out Saturday making play after play to help Martinez. Both Stanley Morgan and JD Spielman had crucial drops down the stretch, though, that cost a touchdown and a key first down, respectively.

3. Clean it up. Penalties in special teams and also on offense hurt the Huskers’ efforts. Long fields and long-distance situations make scoring much less likely. Those — along with three turnovers — are why NU racked up 565 yards but only 28 points.

4. House it. Nebraska running backs broke free a couple of times against the Buffs, only to get run down from behind. If those turn into touchdowns against Troy, look out.

HOW THE BLACKSHIRTS SHUT ’EM DOWN

1. Pack the pressure. Nebraska racked up seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss against CU. Repeat those numbers on any given weekend and the opponent is in for a long day.

2. Hands on the ball. For all the havoc up front, the Huskers didn’t force a turnover. They have to have them. A minus-3 showing against CU will go down as one of the most agitating stats for the NU coaches.

3. Get off the field. The Buffs didn’t post a gaudy third-down conversion percentage (6-of-18), but they picked up 2-of-3 fourth-down tries and came up with third-down conversions of 19, 15, 7, 6 and 24 in the second half.

4. Stuff the run. If NU repeats the 1.3 yards per carry it allowed to CU on Saturday (or any game this fall, for that matter), the coaches will be thrilled.

THREE NUMBERS TO KNOW

94: More yards for Nebraska (565) against CU than in any game last year.

5: Times the Huskers cracked even 400 yards of offense in 2017.

6-13: Nebraska’s record since starting the 2016 season 7-0.

UNDER THE RADAR

Jack Stoll

TE, No. 86: The sophomore tight end had one catch for 4 yards in NU’s opener, but the coaching staff expects him to be a big part of the offense over the course of the season. Look for Stoll — along with fellow tight ends Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal — to get more involved Saturday against Troy and beyond.

Aaron Williams

S, No. 24: Williams put himself squarely on the radar with tackles on each of his first two snaps against the Buffs. The senior is listed third on the depth chart at safety, but he’s a reserve in name only at this point. As long as the Atlanta native is healthy, he’ll be a key part of the Husker secondary.

MARQUEE MATCHUP

Troy CB Blace Brown vs. Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan

Brown is a big corner at 6 feet and 186 pounds. He’ll need all of it to hold up against Morgan. The senior duo find themselves all over their respective leagues’ preseason all-conference lists and will likely see a lot of each other on Saturday.

BIGGEST MISMATCH

Troy offensive line vs. Nebraska defensive line

The Trojans do return four starters from 2017, but they’ve also allowed eight sacks through two games. The Huskers racked up seven in their opener alone. Quarterback Kaleb Barker is a first-year starter and the Blackshirts would love to make his life difficult.

PREDICTION

Nebraska 34, Troy 18

It's been awhile since a Nebraska game had this feel, but this is a game the Blackshirts can take control of. Troy had a good Week 2 offensively, but if the Huskers build on last week's defensive output, the Trojans might find tough sledding in Lincoln. Regardless of who plays quarterback for NU, the defense carries the day.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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