Key Players for the Oklahoma Sooners defense vs. Nebraska

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Oklahoma will wrap up its nonconference schedule with their toughest opponent thus far in Nebraska. The game is symbolic as an old rivalry is renewed on the 50th anniversary of the ‘Game of the Century.

On the field, OU will face a noticeable step up in competition as opposed to their games against Tulane and Western Carolina University. Defensively, they will have to contend with one of the best running quarterbacks in the nation in Adrian Martinez.

Martinez, a veteran quarterback has seen a lot of football over the years and will hardly be scared of the moment. However, his relatively young offensive line will line up across from one of the best front sevens in the country. Pressure is something Martinez is very familiar with. We wrote about that here.

Oklahoma will be without some key players on the back end of their defense. Woodi Washington and Billy Bowman are not expected to play. Look for Latrell McCutchin and Jeremiah Criddell to fill in for them in their spots. Here are candidates for the defensive players to watch as Oklahoma tries to bottle up Nebraska and head into Big 12 play undefeated:

Up Next: A Monster in the Middle ready to be unleashed.

Jalen Redmond, Defensive Line

Jalen Redmond has had a decent start to his 2021 season. He had a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery against Tulane. He filled gaps and got a nice push against Western Carolina.

Perrion Winfrey, his interior defensive line partner will command a lot of attention. Double teams will come in abundance for the Sooners sack leader providing opportunities for Redmond to excel.

Redmond led OU in sacks in 2019 and has the pass-rushing ability to be a menace on the interior as they look to force Martinez to beat them from the pocket. His presence makes the entire defensive line that much more dangerous. Look for him to be a factor this week and take his season up a notch with a scintillating performance.

Up Next: A Linebacker that could Make All the Difference.

David Ugwoegbu, Linebacker

David Ugwoegbu has settled into his role as a middle linebacker well. Much like the rest of the team, he’s not been truly tested in 2021.

That changes Saturday.

His role in spying and patrolling the second level of the defense will be a valuable asset. His size (6’4, 245lbs) will also play a factor in the red zone as he likely gets to matchup with some of the bigger Nebraska tight ends like Austin Allen who stands at a massive 6’9 and 255 lbs and Chris Hickman (6’5, 215lbs).

His size could be the difference in Nebraska kicking field goals or scoring touchdowns if ever in the red zone.

Up Next: An Edge Rusher you can’t easily get away from.

Nik Bonitto, EDGE

Nik Bonitto is the shining superstar on this Oklahoma defense and games like this are where he shows up the most. His play against the QB run game and zone-read will be a big factor. Nebraska loves to utilize Martinez’s legs on designed runs and in the scramble game. Defending their zone-read will require awareness and athleticism. Two things Nik Bonitto possesses in spades.

Bonitto has the functional strength to hold the edge against the offensive tackles but also the speed to make tackles and bring down Martinez and those running backs in space.

The focus for this week is the starters for Oklahoma. If the starters mentioned play well and they get serviceable play from the back end of the defense, OU should and will pull away in the third quarter and cruise to a win.