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Oklahoma vs. Nebraska Preview: Sooners will face elite environment, emotional team

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The Sooners head to Lincoln to take on a familiar face. Oh, and Scott Frost got canned.

Georgia Southern v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Whats good?

Nothing quite gets you ready for a rivalry week like a six-month old with a stomach bug. If this post seems extreme in any way, blame the lack of sleep, but heck, what do you say? Let’s dive into some corn-cob-branded football.

Oklahoma is coming off a game that I am sure Sooner fans are puzzled by. Oklahoma didn’t look great in the run game. Gave up some first downs that smell pretty familiar. I will say, I was confused too. I mean how much do you weigh the offensive scheme? The production? The opponent?

Honestly, I don’t know. However, the one thing I will tell you I think is real is the offensive line concern. If you caught any coach or player talking about the lack of run push this week, it largely was laid at the feet of one man. TyGy aka Tyler Guyton, the TCU transfer who fell backwards into a Week 1 starting spot. All fall camp and summer workout had the same five guys chipping in on that starting offensive line, and then two weeks before UTEP, a wrench was thrown into the situation.

I understand, I really do, the immediate default to Wanya solving some issues. If you have ever heard me talk offensive line, I always try to preface it with this disclaimer:

I only know what I have been taught to look for. I am anything but a master of offensive line play. But....

What does the RT have to do with the LG getting blown off the ball? Like I know. One unit and all. Gotta work together. But what does that have to do with slow pulls from interior offensive linemen that lead to the edge not being set? What does that have to do with false starts by skill position players?

My red flag is up. I watched Kent State bully OU’s front, and I think a RT could help, but might not be the savior you’re looking for.

Good news? Nebraska’s defensive line might be the worst line that OU has played this year. Seriously. So, I don’t know. I guess Sooner fans just need to cross their fingers for the Sept. 24 Kansas State game and hope for the best, but I don’t think we will have our answer by then.

Storylines to watch

  • If Oklahoma can’t run the football... Call your kids. Call your wife. Start doing some chores on specific Saturdays for your mental health. This season could get ugly against certain opponents (cough) anyone that matters (cough). OU HAS to average six yards a carry at minimum in this instance. Nebraska is that bad and OU should be that desperate to prove they can do it.
  • How does Oklahoma start their offensive drives early? Could Oklahoma win this game running the ball 60/40? Of course. Could they beat Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas if that is their identity? Nope, not right now. They may need to change their default setting eventually. They may need to lean on Marvin Mims and Dillon Gabriel to carry this team. So, that should start this week in my opinion. Oklahoma should give the ball to their best player and ride that wave the rest of the season. Don’t try to play bully ball if you can’t.
  • Scott Frost being let go does add the emotional charge of a “fresh start” to Nebraska. Gotta kill that early. If Oklahoma starts the game with two touchdown drives, sucks the emotion of ‘hope’ out of the stadium, it’ll be a good sign. As my brother says in video games, easy clap. Don’t allow Nebraska to believe that they are any different than they were seven days ago.
  • Defensively, this is the best QB Oklahoma has faced in Casey Thompson. Now, I am not the one to jump into hyping up a player who I think is very good. Thompson, however, can make you pay. Woodi Washington has been treated like prime Revis by UTEP and Kent State. I am sure Thompson is going to test him, but it would look awesome for OU if it turns out that he is a college version of Revis.
  • Did Nebraska find helium? Are there red balloons?

Know your opponent: Who is Nebraska?

  • Nebraska’s offensive has had a couple of moments in which they looked okay this season. First couple of drives against Northwestern and the 2nd half vs North Dakota. That is somewhere inside of them. Thompson can make some good throws downfield if the play allows. Coming into the season, Nebraska’s strength was supposed to be their offensive line. I don’t see that. Oklahoma and Grimes should be able to make Thompson uncomfortable all night.
  • Georgia Southern threw for 402 yards and ran for 233. Oklahoma and Mims should be able to set this defense ablaze. The secondary doesn’t have the speed or technique to handle a WR the caliber of Mims. Don’t be cute, test this group early if you are OU and make them realize they don’t have a shot from the word go.
  • Nebraska’s offense has generally slowed down in the second half, excluding the North Dakota game. OU’s defense might struggle in the early phases of this game, but Venables and this attacking OU front will need to stay the course. Over the course of these first two games Oklahoma hasn’t had a team put together multiple drives against them in first halves. This will change on Saturday, so how does OU respond if they have given up some big drives in the first half?
  • Speaking of the road, their stadium is a pretty tough environment. Gabriel’s three largest crowds he has played in front of? OU vs UTEP. OU vs Kent State. UCF vs The Citadel. Okay, you caught me: The third largest game is OU’s spring game. How does he handle it? I assume well... but pressure is a funny thing. It doesn’t matter until it is the only thing that matters.

Prediction

I’d expect a hard-fought first half. Oklahoma stands tall, handles business. They barely cover, so everyone still feels queasy. They run the ball a little too much, so I feel queasy. An OU fan drinks too many Buds so he feels queasy. It’s close, but not close enough to be in doubt.

OU - 30

Nebraska - 17