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3 stats that should make Nebraska football fans optimistic



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Here are three stats that Nebraska football fans should be really excited about after three weeks.

You could feel Nebraska football fans breathe a collective sigh of relief following the 35-11 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday night.

But you can also feel the excitement. Not just because Nebraska won, but about the way that Nebraska won the game. And what’s encouraging is that the Northern Illinois game was just an extension of some noticeable trends.

The biggest difference between Week 3 and the first two games was the fact that Heinrich Haarberg was able to protect the ball.

Running the ball, stopping the run, and sacking the quarterback is essentially what Nebraska did in the 90s when it was winning national titles.

It was an effective way to win football games and the Huskers are following that same formula this season. At least they are trying to. The eight turnovers in two games definitely hurt. So has Nebraska’s inability to force more takeaways.

But there are three stats that should have Nebraska football fans very excited after three weeks.

Rushing yards (209 per game)

Ranking 21st in the FBS, Nebraska has the second-best run game right now according to yards per game in the Big Ten. I know that Nebraska just suffered two injuries in the backfield as Gabe Ervin and Rahmir Johnson are out for the season, but Anthony Grant, plus whoever is at quarterback, should keep the running game on track.

Even if Jeff Sims returns as the starting quarterback, Heinrich Haarberg needs to have a role. At any rate, Matt Rhule said he was going to run the ball when he got hired, and so far, he’s running the damn ball.

Elite run defense (46.3 yards per game)

Nebraska football is stopping the run at an elite level right now.

The Huskers are second in the FBS in terms of rushing yards allowed, trailing only Air Force. Nebraska is also third in the FBS by allowing 1.72 yards per rushing attempt. It sounds boring but if you can run the ball and stop the run, you are going to win a lot of games.

Sacks (14)

You also need to be able to hit the quarterback and after three more sacks on Saturday, the Huskers are tied for fourth in the FBS with 14 sacks overall.

I’m not sure about anybody else but if I told you before the season that Nebraska football would be fourth in sacks, second in rushing yards allowed, and 21st (2nd in the Big Ten) in rushing yards, I’d be over the moon.

It’s only been three weeks but if these three stats keep trending in this direction, it will lead to a lot more wins this season for Nebraska football.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska