OSU-Nebraska Matchups

As mentioned in the scouting report written earlier this week, these two teams have similarities on offense with both teams relying on big or "chunk plays," and they both can get those game sustaining plays on the ground and through the air. The differences between the Cowboys and Cornhuskers come on defense and special teams.

On defense the Huskers are more veteran and more gambling with their schemes. Both defenses are better up front with the Cowboys struggling with depth at linebacker. Nebraska is struggling with depth in the secondary and they are banged on the back end.

On special teams the Cowboys have been better overall, but last week had key mistakes that contributed to the disappointing outcome.

The matchups are huge this week, and we feel we've really narrowed this down to the areas that will truly decide the outcome.

OSU Wide Receivers
vs. Nebraska Secondary

This is the area where OSU has the best chance to expose and exploit the Nebraska defense. The Huskers have had problems with bigger, more talented wide receivers and the Cowboys have those (Adarius Bowman, D'Juan Woods, etc.), not to mention a big receiving tight end (Brandon Pettigrew). Most of the time the Huskers will run safer coverages, but their defensive personality includes some go-for-broke blitz schemes and man coverage. Picking those spots and going for the throat on those opportunities is crucial. Quarterback Bobby Reid factors in on this matchup and the one between the OSU offensive line and Nebraska defensive line. In this instance, Reid needs to make the right decision and a good throw. Again, the opportunities given can't be wasted and OSU will need to make some opportunities for themselves.
Edge: Solid to OSU

OSU Offensive Line
vs. Nebraska Defensive Front

The Cowboy offensive line had its best game in the loss to Texas A&M, and that is good because the Cowboys front is about to see a different kind of defensive animal this week. They have not seen a team so far this season that will blitz with the quality of players Nebraska has. The key in blitz pickup, which also includes the tight ends and running backs, is recognition and communication. Following freshman Russell Okung's second start the offensive line should be on the same page. Bobby Reid factors in here as, again, he has to make good decisions on the fly. Also, Nebraska has not faced a dual talent quarterback like Reid that is so equipped to run option. That could force Nebraska away from their blitzes some on Saturday.
Edge: Solid to Nebraska

OSU Defensive Line
vs. Nebraska Offensive Line

Victor DeGrate is playing the best football he has played in his OSU career and the defensive end has a handy partner in fellow end Nate Peterson. This is a game where that duo, the rest of the ends, and tackles Ryan McBean and Larry Brown must play at a very high level. The line is the strength of the OSU defense. The better and more destructive they play, the better the players on the back end of the defense will have a chance to be.
Edge: Even

OSU Punt and Kickoff Return
vs. Nebraska Coverage Units

According to OSU Associate Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeForest this is strength against strength. The stats don't agree with that on one side. The Cowboys are tops in the nation in kickoff returns and very high on punt returns as well. Nebraska coverage units are aggressive and will knock you on your tail, but they have yielded returns. The punt unit for the Huskers actually has more pooch punting experience because they punt so much from the middle of the field or on the plus side. If the OSU defense can force some Husker punts from their own end there could be some more big plays.
Edge: Slight to OSU

I know the area of the score, both teams in the 30s. Yes, imagine that! Points will be scored in a game between the top two total offenses in the Big 12 and two of the top three scoring offenses in the league. A key play, a stop, a return, a turnover figure to be the difference in this game. As I said last week, when it is this close I will not go against the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State, 38, Nebraska 35

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