Originally Published: Nov 2, 2009 10:37 AM CDT
This analysis of the OU-Nebraska game can be found under CRYSTAL BALL.
It is misleading to look at seeing OU was given the edge in a majority of the categories and assume a Sooner win.
First, I may be wrong in my analysis. Second, OU has not traditionally been a good road team. Third, Nebraska could play better than it has in recent weeks. and fourth, it's easy to get down on a team when they've struggled, whereas the truth is that team might be potentially much better than it looks on paper.
OU is only a six and a half point favorite. Keep that in mind more than adding up the categories where I've given the Sooners the edge over the Huskers.
This one could easily become a 6-3 tight fit. Yes, I do mean a score of something like 6-3.
1. Coaches: Edge OU?
Bob Stoops looks like he’s gotten a group of guys who could’ve moped around after losing Bradford and a third close game to come together and win back-to-back conference games and have a solid chance of winning out. His close childhood friend Bo Pelini has the wolves howling at embattled OC Shaun Watson: “too predictable, conservative.”
2. Quarterback: Edge OU?
Landry Jones made a big step last week in becoming more confident and comfortable in his role as the leader of the offense. Getting more practice reps has helped as has his mobility and poise. 18 year-old Cody Greene got his first career start at Baylor. Greene may become a run-pass threat but his counterpart frosh in Norman gets the clear edge.
3. Run game: Edge OU—barely?
The numbers are not impressive in Norman but both DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown are better than what Pelini and Watson send to Husker huddles. Roy Helu is limited with a shoulder problem and when healthy but is not exactly Mike Rozier when healthy. The Husker average 145 yards per game in the air and will be better with a running threat at QB. OU’s throwing success gives them a better chance of creating balance.
4. Offensive line: Edge OU by a smidge?
OU-Sooners get the edge but just by a smidge. This much-maligned group has been good in pass protection and actually pushed K-State off the ball at times en route to a decent running night. Nebraska center Jacob Hickman is on the Rimington’Watch List. But this group that has experience is under-producing and is catching the wrath of Husker loyalists who are accustomed to seeing a superior group up front knock defenses around. .
5. Wide receivers-Edge OU?.
Ryan Broyles has developed into a big-play star at a position that is getting stronger with the emergence of 6-4 sophomore DeJuan Miller and improving play from Adron Tenell and Brandon Caleb. Nebraska lost its top two receivers and is led by Niles Paul but with the rookie QB who is not a legitimate passing threat at this point in his career, OU gets the edge.
6. Defensive Line: Edge OU?
OU gets a slight edge as Nebraska’s two defensive tackles take a back seat to no one. Ndamukong Sue will be the No. 1 draft pick and is joined by the productive Jason Crick. OU’s Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor make the position a push. OU’s star DE tandem of Auston English and All-America candidate Jeremy Beal separate the two outstanding defensive lines.
7. Secondary PUSH?
Nebraska has depth and experience and is led by Prince Amukara and Larry Asante. Run support is a priority in a Bo and brother Carl Pelini defenses. The Sooners are solid in the back end and are getting terrific bump and run coverage from field corner Brian Jackson. Safety Quinton Carter is starting to come on as the head-hunting force most expected from Day 1.
8 Linebackers Edge OU?
The Sooners continue to get good play out of their trio of LBs who have not been able to get to the QB as well on blitzes as some of us expected. MLB Ryan Reynolds continues to be the inspirational and tactical leader of an athletic trio that was joined last week by Enid’s Austin Box. NU’s Phillip Dillard is solid and leads a dependable group that is good but not as dominant as the defensive front or secondary.
9. Special teams-Edge Nebraska?
NU place kicker Alex Henery is 11-of-13 and is team strength. In an anticipated defensive struggle Saturday night in Lincoln, his ability could be significant. OU has made the switch to place kicker (punter) Tress Way who has potential but has not been under the gun yet, aside from the 53-yard miss that would have won the BYU game. Returner Broyles is a threat but OU’s kickoff coverage allowed a potential game-defining TD against KSU.
10 Intangibles: Edge Nebraska
Huskers get the edge because of the home-field advantage. Pelini’s squad has been disappointing of late but knows this game could keep them alive in the North and be a sweet upset against his buddy Stoops. OU played well beating KU on the road but a young QB in a loud and hostile environment that is pushed by its outstanding defense could prove to be a major challenge.
It might seem this game would be a simple win based on the edge advantage given OU. But the difference between the two in most categories is not much. In the end a play or two here or there and a turnover advantage for Nebraska could result in a mild upset and a Husker victory. OU will have to probably play a better sixty minutes in all phases of the game to win if NU plays up to its early-season level.