OSU-Nebraska Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen's key matchups and prediction for Oklahoma State's homecoming game against Nebraska on Saturday afternoon at Boone Pickens Stadium.

1. OSU Defensive Tackles Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson
and Linebackers Orie Lemon and Justin Gent
vs. Nebraska Option Game
This is the bread and butter now for the Nebraska offensive identity. A huge question looms on Saturday as to how wounded the psche was of Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez regarding his being pulled in the second half of the loss to Texas last week.

Martinez and his explosive running ability in this option scheme has been the major factor in Nebraska's offensive success. Martinez has opened the door to running backs Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead getting their opportunities.

While the passing game is not a staple, defenses being occupied with stopping the option have been a welcome target when the Huskers execute well in the passing game. The beauty of the zone read and mid-line option that the Huskers run is that it will be aimed at four seniors on the Oklahoma State defense in Jarka, Donaldson, Lemon, and Gent.

From a pure scheme standpoint, this is a good matchup for the Cowboys. Jarka and Donaldson are well schooled and comfortable in gap-protection defense. One oddity in this Nebraska offense are the big gaps the Huskers use on the offense line and that could cause some alignment adjustments for the Cowboys.
Edge: Slight to OSU's Jarka, Donaldson, Lemon, and Gent

2. OSU Offensive Line vs. Nebraska Defensive Front
The Huskers are good on the defensive line and Jared Crick is a good player, as is defensive Pierre Allen. Their best defensive player is linebacker Lavonte David. The junior college standout was once a commitment to Middle Tennessee State and he is safety-type athlete playing linebacker with great speed and a good tackler.

The trick for the Cowboys' offensive line will be blocking the Huskers up front and getting someone, likely center Grant Garner, off the line and to the second level on David. If David even gets shaded away from the play and the line is tied up, then the strong possibility for a big play (20 yards or more) is there. The Huskers are good, but this is a matchup where both sides will get their share of small wins inside the game.
Edge: Slight to Nebraska Defensive Front

3. OSU Wide Receiver Justin Blackmon
vs. Nebraska Cornerback Prince Amukamara
This one is worth the price of admission by itself, and don't bet that it won't happen. Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is not huge on respecting opponents and he loves his secondary. Pelini, himself, is a former safety at Ohio State that was coached by Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young.

Pelini loves his secondary and the "Prince", Prince Amukamara, is the prize member of that cast. Pelini wants to see Amukamara enhance his reputation by shutting down Blackmon.

The Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy and offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, and the whole offense, including quarterback Brandon Weeden, are anxious to see Blackmon win this battle of supreme playmakers from opposite sides of the football.

The Cowboys could also win in man coverage because of other matchups they can take advantage of. If Nebraska does employ man/zone, bracket man, or zone, etc., then the run game or other receivers will also have an opportunity for an advantage.
Edge: Even between Blackmon and Amukamara

OSU-Nebraska Prediction
I know this score looks big, and I do respect Nebraska, but the fact of the matter is that Oklahoma State is the better team and the Cowboys are working at home in front of a very enthusiastic homecoming crowd.

I think the Cowboys have the advantage at a lot of positions. They have the better quarterback, better running backs, better star wide receiver, better offensive line. On defense, Nebraska has a lot of edges, but special teams are a push.

Turnovers are the variable, if the Cowboys turn it over, then Nebraska could walk out of Stillwater with a nice win and back on track. If the Huskers turn it over, then it could get sideways in favor of the Cowboys. Head up and close to even, the Cowboys talent, coaching and homefield advantage hold serve and OSU is 7-0.

No. 15 Oklahoma State 28, No. 13 Nebraska 13

Big 12 Predictions
Saturday
@ #22 Texas 49, Iowa State 7

@ Baylor 34, Kansas State 28

Texas Tech 21, @ Colorado 20

Texas A&M 35, @ Kansas 14

#3-Oklahoma 24, @ #16 Missouri 21

2010 Record
Straight Up: 47-12
vs. the Spread: 26-24
Not every game has a spread. The games against FCS competition do not have a point spread.


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