As we get ready for this evening's match up with the No. 4 Sooners, who better to get a feel for this Oklahoma team than the Scout.com Publisher of Sooners Illustrated, Greg Powers. We asked him five questions about his team, some of the potential concerns and his thoughts about a team's chances going into Norman to try and steal a win.
Big Red Report: On paper it's obvious that man-for-man Nebraska doesn't match up with the Sooners. But is there an area where you think Nebraska is strongest which could be reason for concern?
Greg Powers: When talking OU special team are always a concern. They are not only struggling some with their field goal kicker, but they are one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to defending on kick-offs.
The staff made some changes in the Kansas game to get some new personnel involved and things seemed to be getting on the right track, but they gave up yet another big return in last weekend's 58-35 win at Kansas State.
BRR: Oklahoma ranks toward the bottom in the country in pass defense, and may attribute that to the domino effect caused by the loss of linebacker Ryan Reynolds. Would you agree with that, and if not, what aspect of Oklahoma's defense has suffered the most without him being in the game?
GP: I attribute their lower ranking in the passing defense category more to the amount of plays that other teams are getting off against them. OU never had a scoring drive over two minutes last weekend and they seem to have a knack for scoring very quickly. So in a nutshell they score so quick that the other teams have to throw the ball to keep themselves in the game.
The loss of Ryan Reynolds was a setback for the OU defense, as he may have been one of if not the most important part of the unit, but I do not think it is fari to put all of the passing yards on his shoulders.
It seems like throwing the rock is just the way of the Big 12 anymore.
BRR: The Big 12 has gotten all kinds of attention from the quality of quarterbacks in the league. Based on experience, performance and personnel, where do you think Sam Bradford belongs on the list of this conference's best quarterbacks this year?
I think Bradford and Colt McCoy are running neck and neck as the two best quarterbacks in the Big 12, and then you have a host of othe guys nipping at their heels.
Bradford is the real deal and watching him in person this year has gave me a new appreciation for him. He is smooth and calm in the pocket and is able to deliver the ball with precision and I think that his stat line speaks for itself.
BRR: Oklahoma hasn't lost a home game in years. There have been some close games, but the Sooners have always maintained that big time home field advantage. Is there something about games in Norman, outside of it just being loud, which makes it tougher on teams who come into Sooner land to play? Or really, is the home field just a compliment to the fact that since this streak started, Oklahoma has been just pretty darn good?
GP: Bob Stoops just has that knack for winning games in Norman, and I think that you will find that the great teams and great programs consistently do win their home games.
Stoops only has two losses in his tenure at OU and I think you have credit his teams preparation for most of the success, but you have to give a certain percentage of the credit to the home field crowd, which is usually pretty raucous for the home game tilts.
BRR: When these two teams meet every two years, everyone brings up what a great rivalry it was and how special this game was to all parties involved, both on and off the field. But dating back to the late-90s when Oklahoma wasn't as good, up to now which sees Nebraska struggling to get back on top, has this game completely lost its luster, or do you think there is still some sort of bigger meaning to this game above and beyond the game itself?
GP: It has lost the luster some to me. I think splitting the conference played the biggest role in this rivalries decline and it was pretty apparent the state of the game when the media room was nearly empty for Bob Stoops weekly press conference.
The players have been getting caught up on the history of the game and they have intimated all week long that they feel like it is a rivalry game, but in these instances I defer to the fans, and I think a large majority of them would agree with me that the game just does not mean what it used to.
Maybe things can start to change now because of all of the connections and history between Bo Pelini and Bob Stoops.
We'd like to thank Greg for taking the time out to answer some of our questions.