Threat Assessment: 3 Cornhuskers who could be game-changers vs. Oklahoma

·5 min read

The Oklahoma Sooners and Nebraska Cornhuskers will meet for the 87th time on Saturday. The Cornhuskers roll into town to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century,” as the teams will meet for the first time in over a decade.

But much of the preseason excitement about this matchup fizzled out when Nebraska fell to Illinois 30-22 in week 0. After the loss, our very own John Williams broke down the playoff implications of an irrelevant Nebraska team.

With a nonconference schedule considered one of the weakest in the Big 12, the Sooners needed a relevant Nebraska team to bolster their strength of schedule… Fans will be hyped for the Sooners’ matchup with the Cornhuskers. When Nebraska comes to Norman, there will be a lot of energy and excitement to renew the storied rivalry. However, after an upset loss to one of the lower-tier teams in the Big 10, the matchup has lost some of its intrigue.

However, the fact remains that Nebraska is (or at least it’s supposed to be) the most formidable opponent Oklahoma has faced during nonconference play. That means it’s time for another threat assessment.

Here’s who you and the Sooners need to keep an eye on this weekend.

Up Next: A Nebraska Wide Receiver to watch out for.

Sep 4, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Fordham Rams linebacker Ryan Greenhagen (47) tackles Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Samori Toure (3) in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports – Samori Toure

Samori Toure, Wide Receiver

A senior transfer out of the University of Montana, Toure leads the Cornhuskers in receptions (13), receiving yards (306), and touchdowns (2). The 6-3 receiver has increased his output in all three games and is fresh off a two-touchdown, 136-yard performance against Buffalo last weekend.

On his first touchdown, Toure lulls the defender into opening his hips outward before cutting back across his face to knife through the middle of the defense. The veteran pass-catcher holds the FCS single-game record in receiving yards (303 vs. Southeastern Lousianna), and the tape suggests he’s capable of dealing similar damage in the FBS.

Toure has also been an asset to Nebraska’s running game. He carried the ball three times against Fordham before finding the endzone off an eight-yard pitch.

Samori Toure is sure to be an impact player in Saturday’s game. But time will tell if he is truly the Cornhuskers’ WR1. Oliver Martin led Nebraska with six catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in the week 0 loss to the Fighting Illini but is sidelined alongside fellow receiver Omar Manning due to injury.

Nebraska’s depleted receiving corp means Samori Toure will play an even bigger role in the offensive game plan. Unfortunately for OU, untimely injuries to the secondary could limit its ability to keep Toure in check.

The Sooners’ pass rush will need to dial up the intensity against Cornhuskers’ quarterback Adrian Martinez to conceal any busts in pass defense.

Up Next: A second level defender capable of causing havoc.

Sep 4, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker Luke Reimer (28) pressures Fordham Rams quarterback Tim DeMorat (17) in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Reimer, Linebacker

Luke Reimer is the Big 10 defensive player of the week and the leading man in Nebraska’s defense. He leads the conference with 28 total tackles and is fresh off a career-best 16 tackle performance against Buffalo.

It is worth reiterating that Nebraska has yet to face an offense in the same stratosphere as Oklahoma and that its defense surrendered 30 points to the only Power Five offense it has seen this season. But if Saturday’s game becomes close and the Cornhuskers find themselves in need of a third-down stop, Reimer could be the one who makes the play.

The sophomore linebacker tallied 40 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks in just six games played in 2020. Now, in 2021, he’s averaging nine tackles a week.

If any Cornhusker is a legitimate threat to slowing down OU’s offense, it’s Luke Reimer.

Up Next: An athlete the Sooners defense must contain.

Sep 4, 2021; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) looks to throw against the Fordham Rams in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Martinez, Quarterback

Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t true. No Cornhusker is a bigger threat to a Sooners’ win than Adrian Martinez. The veteran quarterback has been running from pass rushers and into some big offensive numbers in 2021.

His 256 rushing yards through three games leads the team and is 10th best in the conference. Martinez also ranks fourth in passing, throwing for 728 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. When given the opportunity to stay in the pocket and set his feet, Martinez has the ability to make OU’s secondary pay.

It will be up to defensive coordinator Alex Grinch to make sure that doesn’t happen. According to Pro Football Focus, Grinch should have plenty of tape to work with because Martinez is the most pressured quarterback in the entire Power Five (45.7% pressure rate).

In contrast, there isn’t an edge rusher in the country who generates more pressure than Oklahoma’s Nik Bonnitto.