Oklahoma at Nebraska 11-7-09

November 7, 2009

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(20) Oklahoma (5-3) at Nebraska (5-3)


Saturday, November 7th, 8:00 p.m. (et)

GAME NOTES: Big 12 rivals will collide in Lincoln this weekend as the Nebraska Cornhuskers play host to the 20th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

Oklahoma has won its last two outings to move to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play. Considering the fact that the Sooners entered this campaign with national title aspirations, the three losses are obviously disappointing. Last weekend, Bob Stoops’ troops played extremely well offensively in a 42-30 decision over Kansas State.

Like Oklahoma, Nebraska has won five of its eight games thus far and needs one more victory to earn bowl eligibility. The Huskers halted a two-game losing skid with a 20-10 victory over Baylor last weekend. Considering that they suffered a one-point loss to Virginia Tech and a two-point setback to Iowa State, the record could certainly be better at this point.

In regard to the all-time series between Oklahoma and Nebraska, the Sooners own a 44-37-3 advantage.

The Oklahoma offense was supposed to be led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford this season, but the standout quarterback hurt his shoulder in the opener and recently reaggravated the injury. He is now out for the season, and it is likely that Bradford has played his final game for the Sooners. As a result, Landry Jones is running the team under center, and the fact that the redshirt freshman has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,657 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions suggests that he is more than capable of filling the void.

Jones has plenty of talent around him. Ryan Broyles has made 44 catches for 591 yards and 10 touchdowns. As for the ground attack, Chris Brown is tops with 510 yards and five scores, while DeMarco Murray has contributed 465 yards and five touchdowns. All of those players combine to help the Sooners average 33.1 ppg and 423.9 total ypg.

Opponents are scoring only 12.6 ppg against Oklahoma this season, and the Sooners are yielding a mere 277.2 total ypg. Clearly, the defense has been one of the nation’s truly elite groups despite the three losses suffered to date. Stopping the run has clearly been an area of strength for Oklahoma, as the club is yielding a mere 2.6 yards per carry and 80 yards per contest. In eight outings, the Sooners have surrendered only four rushing touchdowns. While they have given up seven passing scores, 13 interceptions and 27 sacks have been registered.

Travis Lewis leads Oklahoma with 71 total tackles. Brian Jackson has four interceptions to his credit, and Jeremy Beal has recorded 13.5 TFLs, including 8.5 sacks.

Against Kansas State last week, Murray scored three touchdowns for Oklahoma, while Broyles reached the end zone twice. The Sooners rolled up 458 total yards, including 294 yards from Jones on 26-of-37 efficiency. He tossed four touchdowns with no interceptions and appears to be in complete control of the offense despite his inexperience.

“Really excited about what Landry Jones did today again with a host of receivers that really stepped up,” said Stoops after the contest.

Kansas State did score on a kickoff return last week, so the Oklahoma defense didn’t play as poorly as the 30 points allowed suggest. Still, the performance was far from dominant, as the Sooners yielded 364 yards and 20 first downs.

“In the second half, they worked us a little bit but we came up with those stops in the fourth with the last couple of drives when we really had to,” said Stoops.

The Nebraska offense has struggled in recent weeks, including in last weekend’s 20-10 victory over Baylor. Afterall, one of the two touchdowns scored by the Huskers came on a return of a blocked punt, and the other was the culmination of a 46-yard drive. Otherwise, the team got a pair of field goals. Nebraska managed a mere 11 first downs in the contest and 273 total yards. Two turnovers were committed, and only 3.8 yards per carry was generated on the ground. Cody Green was adequate at best under center, and none of the skill position players posted standout stats.

“In the second half we just went out there and just shot blanks,” said quarterback Cody Green. “We were lucky enough that our defense came up big in the second half. In games like this you can’t really go out and shoot blanks like this. We just have to go back to work.”

In the vin over Baylor, Nebraska’s Jared Crick put forth one of the best defensive efforts that we have seen by any player in the nation this season. Crick finished the game with 13 tackles, including a school record-tying seven TFLs, and he was credited with five sacks. Largely because of that showing, the Bears were held without an offensive touchdown in the contest and managed a mere 276 total yards.

“They turned their center to (Ndamukong) Suh and they were trying to double- team Suh, and (Jared Crick) took advantage of it,” said Nebraska head coach Pelini. “He is too good of a football player if they are going to do that. He did a good job and he played a great game.”

Overall this season, Nebraska is averaging 27.6 ppg and 367.9 total ypg. Green has played in five games, getting his first start of the season over Zac Lee last week. Green has completed 57.4 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions, numbers that won’t scare anyone. Niles Paul leads the receivers with 25 catches for 413 yards and three scores, while Roy Helu Jr. has rushed for 668 yards and six touchdowns. Helu does have a shoulder injury, but he figures to be on the field this weekend.

Opponents are scoring a mere 11.2 ppg against Nebraska, which is yielding 267.6 total ypg. The Sooners have been tremendous against the run, surrendering only 96.2 ypg at a clip of 2.7 yards per attempt. Only eight touchdowns have been allowed to opposing offenses in eight games, including just three scores through the air. Crick and Suh are tied for the team lead with 49 tackles apiece, and both have 13 TFLs. Crick now has 8.5 sacks, while Suh has five sacks and a pair of blocked kicks.

Go with Nebraska in this clash, as it will be a very close game and your getting a lot of value here.

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