There are several interesting storylines around the game, which features one of the oldest rivalries in the sport.
Oklahoma vs. Nebraska: Keys to the game
RJ Young is joined by Geoff Schwartz to break down the matchup between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
What impact will Mickey Joseph have on Nebraska?
Joseph, who played quarterback for the Huskers from 1988-91, was promoted from receivers coach to interim head coach after the school fired Scott Frost following a 45-42 loss to Georgia Southern that dropped the Huskers to 1-2.
Could Joseph bring a new spirit to the Huskers’ attack? Schwartz said it’s something he wants to see.
“Nebraska needed a new energy,” he said. “They needed a new voice in the room. They were willing to swallow the [Frost] buyout, which I think was the right thing to do — they have plenty of money, that’s not a problem for them.”
Schwartz pointed out that the uncertainty around gauging what Joseph will do, and how the Nebraska players will react to him, adds an element of intrigue to the game.
“We don’t know what Nebraska is going to be this weekend, which makes this game even more exciting,” he said. “… what are [the Huskers] going to be without Scott Frost? They could go in two directions. They could either fire themselves up, play over their skis, or maybe they’re just not good. It’s also possible that they get this burst in the first quarter and just return back to what they’ve been.
“So that to me is the most fascinating part of this game — what is Nebraska without Scott Frost?”
Joseph has said that offensive coordinator Mark Whipple will call plays, though he has shuffled some roles on his coaching staff.
Another interesting thing, Young said, is that Joseph plans to have his players hit more in practice, as tackling has been a problem.
“That has been one of the real Achilles’ heels of this team,” he said. “They haven’t been able to put people down on the ground.”
Can Oklahoma get its offense going?
The Sooners have scored 78 points in their first two games, not exactly a sign of struggle. But in Week 2, they nearly went scoreless in the first half against Kent State before ultimately pulling away for a 33-3 victory.
Because Oklahoma moves at such a fast pace and does not hold the ball — the Sooners rank second-to-last among FBS teams in time of possession — a similarly-slow start against Nebraska could lead to problems.
“If you go up to Lincoln, Nebraska and you don’t immediately get on top of Nebraska, they’re just going to hold the ball,” Young said, “Why wouldn’t Nebraska just try to run the ball and run the ball with authority?”
But that’s easier said than done, and Schwartz warned that the Huskers should not anticipate being in such a position.
“Nebraska can game plan all they want to slow things down, of running the football, of pacing things out,” he said. “But if you allow two touchdowns on Oklahoma’s first two drives, you’re down 14-0 now, that pace is going to pick up a little bit. There’s going to be a sense of urgency now.”
Interview with Oklahoma coach Brent Venables
Oklahoma coach Brent Venables talks about the Sooners’ strong start to the season and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s impact on the offense.
In the end, is Nebraska in a good position to pull off an upset?
Ultimately, neither Young nor Schwartz said they expect Nebraska, a 10.5-point underdog according to FOX Bet, to beat Oklahoma, even while playing at home under a new coach.
“I would be shocked if the Schooner does not cut through Nebraska like an International harvester in a high-yield cornfield,” Young said. “It’s just how it’s supposed to be.”
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