No. 20 Oklahoma Sooners (5-3 SU, 3-4-1 ATS) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
(5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, November 7, 2009,
Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., TV: ABC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Oklahoma -6/Nebraska +6
Back in August, the Oklahoma Sooners trip up to Memorial Stadium in
Lincoln this Saturday to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers was thought
to be a pivotal showdown in the Big 12 Conference. After all, the
Sooners were supposed to contend for a BCS title with the return of
quarterback Sam Bradford while the Cornhuskers program was finally
considered to be back to its elite status as a big time football
My how things change in a few short months.
Now Bradford is hurt and out for the season, the Cornhuskers cant
seem to score any points on offense and nothing has turned out the
way the experts predicted since both teams are just 5-3 on the season
when the 20th-ranked Sooners take on the unranked Cornhuskers in a
now almost meaningless game Saturday night on ABC.
Oklahoma comes into the game fresh off of a 42-30 victory over Kansas
State at home in Norman last Saturday, but the Sooners had a much
tougher time beating the Wildcats then the score indicates.
After jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter the Sooners
looked like they tossed it into cruise control and it nearly cost
them the game. K-State rallied and at one point pulled to within
35-30 late in the third quarter before the Sooners tacked on the
final score for the 12-point victory.
Nebraska, meanwhile, finally got back in the win column last week
with a 20-10 victory over Baylor after back-to-back disappointing
losses to Texas Tech (31-10) and Iowa State (9-7) the previous two
Freshman quarterback Cody Green replaced Zac Lee as the starter against Baylor and the Huskers scored the most points they have since
their 27-12 win over Missouri, but it was far from an impressive
offensive performance. The Huskers were actually outgained by the
Bears in the game, but Green did a nice job of managing the game (12-
of-21 for 128 yards) and allowed the Blackshirts defense to preserve
the victory on the road.
Oddsmakers feel the Cornhuskers will have a chance in this game on Saturday, as they opened the game with Oklahoma as modest 6-point
favorites on the road in Lincoln. That is a far cry from last years
21-point spread the Sooners enjoyed at home.
As of press time an over/under total has yet to be released.
Oklahomas high-powered offense is now under the command of Landry Jones, who took over for Bradford and has done a serviceable job in his absence. Jones has put up some gaudy numbers so far (1,657 yards, 17 TDs) and he was very good last week against Kansas State (26-of-37
for 294 yds., 4 TD), but with weapons like Ryan Broyles, Chris Brown
and DeMarco Murray its more a product of the system than anything
special hes doing behind center.
Green took over for Lee last week at quarterback because the Cornhuskers offense needed some sort of spark to jumpstart the unit that is currently just 68th in the NCAA at 368 yards per game. They
also are 54th in points scored (27.6 ppg), but those numbers are
skewed from their easy non-conference schedule against the likes of
Florida Atlantic (49), Arkansas State (38) and Louisiana Lafayette
(55) because the Huskers biggest output against legit competition was
their 27-point outburst against Mizzou.
The good news is that Nebraska might get running back Roy Helu back
on Saturday. Helu is listed as probable and would team up with
Dontrayevous Robinson as a good one-two punch on the ground against
the Sooners defense. Nebraska will also have to get better at third-
down, because their 5-for-15 mark they had against Baylor wont cut
it against the Sooners.
Oklahomas defense is 11th in the country in yards allowed (277.2 ypg), including 3rd in rushing defense (80 ypg), so Nebraska will
need Helu and Robinson at full speed if they hope to have a chance at
the upset. The Sooners are also 8th in the country in points allowed
(12.6 ppg), so the freshman quarterback Green will have his work cut
out for him thats for sure.
Whats going to be exciting to watch is the Sooners spread offense
against the Cornhuskers strong defense. Led by nose tackle Ndamukong
Suh, Nebraska is 9th in the country in overall defense (267.1 ypg),
13th against the pass (171.1 ypg) and 10th against the run (96 ypg),
which has moved them up to 4th in scoring defense allowing just 11.2
points per game.
Nebraska will have a little bit of revenge on their minds on Saturday too, especially the defense, as they were embarrassed by the Sooners
in Norman last year, 62-28. Oklahoma ran up 508 yards of total
offense in the game and held a 62-21 lead before the fourth quarter
even started, so dont think for a second the Blackshirts defense
wont be using that game for motivation this week.
In what has turned into a lost season of sorts, a win over Oklahoma
would make the Cornhuskers season, period. Oklahoma has owned
Nebraska lately, wining four straight games dating back to the 2004
season. The Sooners have also covered the point spread in three of
those four wins, with the only non-cover coming as huge 29-point
favorites in their 30-3 victory in 2004.
The good news for Nebraska is that the last time these teams played
at Memorial Stadium was the last time the Cornhuskers gave them a
game, losing a close 31-24 game when their furious second-half
comeback fell just short. The Cornhuskers are 18-3-1 ATS in their
last 22 home games against a team with a winning record, so playing
in front of the home crowd gives them their best chance.
Badgers Pick: Im not sure the Cornhuskers will have enough offense
in this game to topple the Sooners, especially with the freshman at
QB. But their defense will keep them in it. When the total is
released I would strongly recommend a play on the under, but until
then Im going with the Huskers and their motivation for revenge.
Take Nebraska plus the 6-points here.