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Free Pick: Nebraska at Oklahoma 9/18/21
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Nebraska at Oklahoma 9/18/21

This is a renewal of a classic rivalry dating back to Big8 and Big12 days. During the 70’s and 80’s these two teams played for the conference championships on Thanksgiving weekend nearly every year with Orange Bowl invitations and a lot of years, national championship aspirations on the line depending on the outcome. Obviously, Nebraska has moved on to the Big10 and these guys don’t play each other anymore. And, the Sooners have been relevant for the last 20 years while the Cornhuskers have dropped out of sight.

Scouting Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are led by senior quarterback Adrian Martinez, who can make plays with his arm and his feet. He will be the key to the game for Nebraska and it is imperative that he plays well for them to have a chance. He has thrown for 728 yards and 4 touchdowns and is the team’s leading rusher with 256 more yards. However, those stats are a bit skewed because of the teams they have played. Markese Stepp is the 2nd leading rusher with only 128 yards. Samori Toure has caught 13 passes for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns and he is Martinez’s favorite target.

The Nebraska defense has played pretty well. and return a lot of experience from 2020. They could pose problems for the Sooners and they will need a strong pass rush against Spencer Rattler and will have to stop the run. They are led by Luke Reimer and Nick Henrich who have combined for 51 tackles. Safety, Deontai Williams has 14 tackles and has picked off 2 passes. This unit will need to come up with some turnovers and play exceptionally well on Saturday.

Scouting Oklahoma: The Sooners are known for their high-powered offenses and this year is no different. They are led by Spencer Rattler, the next quarterback in line in Norman. He has played extremely well at times and just average as well. He is capable of playing a big game. Oklahoma loves to run the ball and they have a one-two punch with Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray. The ability to run the ball sets up everything else that the Sooners want to do. They have an abundance of receivers and plenty of depth. Marvin Mims is the deep threat and Mario Williams, Jadon Hazlewood, and Austin Stogner are all capable of making the big play. Their offensive line was a problem in the Tulane game and will have to play better against Nebraska.

Oklahoma has said repeatedly over the spring and summer that their defense is the real deal. But, in game 1 against Tulane, they were average at best. If they are to contend for a playoff spot, they are going to have play a lot better than they were against Tulane. Last week they posted a shutout but that was against Western Carolina and we need to see them play well against a better opponent. They have the best and deepest defensive line that they’ve had in many years. Linebacker play is solid and if their secondary continues to improve they might reach the expectations that they have for themselves.

Oklahoma opens as a 22.5 point favorite and that is probably about right. Even though, the Huskers aren’t real good, this will be the most talented team the Sooners have faced. Nebraska is going to hear all week about how they are going to get clobbered and don’t have a chance and we expect them to play pretty well. Martinez is going to have to be exceptional and have a big day for the Huskers and OU is going to have to make some mistakes to keep them in the game. The big keys on Oklahoma covering will be how well the Nebraska offense plays and will the Sooners offense play up to their potential and make some big plays in the passing game against a decent Nebraska defense.

AARON’S PICK: Oklahoma -22.5

PAPA DUDE’S PICK: Nebraska +22.5

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