Nebraska comes into this game looking to still right the ship. The past two home games have been losses, Texas Tech and Iowa State, and are trying to get their offense on track. Oklahoma's offense was on the mend, with injuries to Jermaine Gresham, Sam Bradford and Ryan Broyles, now with Landry Jones and Broyles back are rolling really well.
And with Nebraska the questions still remain on offense. Can Nebraska get on track against a tough Oklahoma defense? Can Nebraska's defense, once again, keep Nebraska in the game? Here are some things that I will be watching tonight:
1. Win the battle of turnovers - Nebraska hasn't won a game this season where they have been negative in the turnover battle in a game. Nebraska doesn't just need to leave the game without a negative in this category, but a couple of go their way.
2. Long, time consuming drives - Nebraska needs a game like they put together last year against Texas Tech in Lubbock to keep OU's offense off the field, their offense on and try to tire out the Oklahoma defense.
3. OU WR and NU DB matchup - Ryan Broyles is back from a shoulder injury and Alfonzo Dennard has a shoulder injury. Dennard's play this season has been pretty special. However, it's clear that he's pretty banged up. This is going to be one to watch.
4. Must get over 100 yards rushing -I scaled this back to 100 from 150 because I am not sure that Nebraska needs to be AS effective here as they just need to not turnover the ball. 100 yards typically isn't a lot, but Oklahoma only allows 80 per contest.
5. NU OT and OU DE matchup - This, to me, is where the game plan to really stay on the field offensively meets the road. If Nebraska's offensive tackles can't keep the edge rushers for Oklahoma from having a lot of success (and they will have success no matter what) then drives will stall because of down and distance as well as just stops at critical times.
6. Field position - Nebraska has been getting better in flipping the field on their opponents as well as getting themselves in good field position off of some punt returns. Nebraska will need to play a good game here to keep the field long for Oklahoma to get scores.
7. Freshman get a little better - I re-watched the Baylor game as much as I could and there are some clear things about Cody Green and Dontrayevous Robinson and their play on the field right now. Winging it and trying for the big play isn't as good as just taking what they are supposed to take on any one play. The Cody Green fumble at Baylor really comes to mind when not running inside the block.
8. Get pressure - Nebraska is coming off one of the best games their defensive line has played this season. Oklahoma's offensive line has been giving adequate time to Jones to get the ball out. The Huskers have to get up field and get their hands up.
9. Consistency with the receivers - Last week's message to Menolik Holt and Curenski Gilleylen were loud and clear to me. However, Nebraska is still looking for help from Brandon Kinnie and others. Khiry Cooper and Niles Paul need to really step up and don't need to be as big of a threat to do something great as much as just do something right.
10. Swagger - This game has a mojo all its own. If you can't get up for it, then you don't need to be on the field. This is a game that even as you take all games one game at a time that you think about. You look forward to. Nebraska needs to get over any self-confidence issues that they have and just go 100%.
The comparison of Nebraska's offense this year to defenses under Kevin Cosgrove defenses at Nebraska was such a great comparison. The real root of the problem here is that the Nebraska staff wants to be perfect that in the pursuit for that perfection comes fear of doing something that isn't right.
It's what happens when the pressure is there and the need of backing off that need for perfection and doing it 100% needs to come in. If Nebraska can relax and do what they need to do on offense with controlling the ball and not turning it over then they can win.
I said last week against Baylor that the winner only needed to put up 24 points. I am not sure that is much different this week just because of the defenses involved. I am just not sure that Nebraska has the firepower or organization on the offensive side of the ball just yet to do that. OU wins, 28-20.