Three keys that’ll help Oklahoma secure a road win against Nebraska

·4 min read

We’ve seen two games from Oklahoma. While the results haven’t been bad, there’s this sense we don’t quite know what Oklahoma is this year.

We don’t have that answer yet, but Saturday’s game against Nebraska will go a long way in answering that question.

Sure, Nebraska isn’t a top 15 program as it once was. It also just fired a head coach who was a returning favorite son. Scott Frost didn’t get the job done at Nebraska, which will sting for a long time. However, the program moves on, and Oklahoma cannot get wrapped up thinking Nebraska will roll over.

With experience in the rivalry, Brent Venables knows what this game means to both sides. Venables will have to prepare his team for a hostile environment for the first time this season.

As for the on-field things to watch out for that could help Oklahoma leave Lincoln, Nebraska, as winners on Saturday night? We’ve got you covered.

Up Next: Keys to an Oklahoma win

Stop the Run

Casey Thompson will not contend for the Heisman, but he’s a capable college quarterback. Many players on Oklahoma’s defense saw him up close last year when they played Thompson and the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Showdown.

He can make some plays with his arm, but he’s not going to dominate through the air.

Nebraska’s biggest offensive threat is running back Anthony Grant. Grant is the first Nebraska back since 1950 to rush for 100 yards in the first three games of a season. Grant has 11 runs of 10 yards or more for the Huskers and is third in the nation with 142.7 YPG.

In other words, he makes an impact.

If this new defense can continue flying around and smacking people in the mouth, Oklahoma can put all the pressure on Thompson to win this game with his arm.

A successful ground attack for Nebraska does two things: It wears out Oklahoma’s defense and keeps the Sooners’ offense off the field. Oklahoma’s offensive identity is predicated on rhythm. The more plays, the better. If the offense is off the field, the game isn’t going well.

Up Next: Another defensive key

Get off the field now!

Stopping Anthony Grant will be the No. 1 priority for Oklahoma. Stopping the run, in general, is Brent Venables’ defensive priority, and the rest of his defense flows from that. As Nebraska attempts to control the pace of the game with its ground attack, the Sooners must get off the field when they get the Cornhuskers into obvious passing situations.

The Cornhuskers are converting 60% of their third downs. That insane number is unsustainable but still an indicator of the challenge Nebraska’s offense provides.

If the defense can get Nebraska behind the chains early the game it will play right into the hands of the pass rush. Reggie Grimes, Ethan Downs and R Mason Thomas have been dynamic off the edge, making life incredibly difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

Up Next: Let it Go! Let it Go! No holding back anymore!

Open the offense

Everyone knows Oklahoma needed to keep it basic for UTEP and Kent State. That’s fine and a reasonable approach. However, this week, the Sooners face a step up in competition. And with Big 12 play coming after Nebraska, it’s time Lebby starts showing the rest of the world why his offenses have been some of the best in college football for a few years now.

The production was fine against UTEP and Kent State, but the competition wasn’t the greatest. Against a Power Five defense with some nice defensive pieces, what can Lebby whip up if Nebraska commits to not letting Marvin Mims get loose?

Nebraska cornerback Quinton Newsome hasn’t allowed a touchdown in 141 coverage snaps this season. Either he’s been fortunate, or the sophomore cornerback is that good. We’ll lean to the latter, which already creates an opportunity for someone to step up if Mims is hounded all night.

This game will not be easy. At least not for the first two quarters. The Sooners’ depth and the ability to adjust at half may be the difference, but the keys to this game paint a crystal clear picture of how Oklahoma can make its way back to Norman with a win against an old foe.


Oklahoma Football: 5 Offensive players to watch against Nebraska

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire