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Five burning questions heading into Oklahoma week

Here are five of the biggest questions still facing Nebraska as it gets ready for its nationally-televised showdown at No. 4 Oklahoma this week...

Nebraska got some momentum back on its side with two straight wins. Will it be enough to keep up with Oklahoma?
Nebraska got some momentum back on its side with two straight wins. Will it be enough to keep up with Oklahoma? (Getty Images)

1. Is Nebraska up to the test?

The 2021 season got off to an awful start when Nebraska went to Illinois and laid an egg in a critical Week 0 matchup.

While wins over Fordham and Buffalo might not move the needle much for some, the Huskers still did what they were supposed to do to help build back some momentum.

This week will be a completely different animal, however.

Oklahoma had its own opening game struggles, but it's still a team with College Football Playoff aspirations and one of the most dynamic offenses in the country.

Nationally showcased games have not been kind to NU in recent years, and Saturday will be on full display as the FOX Big Noon Saturday game of the week.

The Sooners will undoubtedly be looking to prove a point on that stage, and they're no stranger to racking up style points at their opponents’ expense.

Nebraska will need to be close to flawless in every aspect to have a chance at pulling off an upset. Are they capable of putting it all together in that type of setting?

2. Who will be available on offense?

What made Nebraska's offensive performance so impressive against Buffalo was how it put up more than 500 total yards without several key weapons on the field.

Tight end Travis Vokolek and receiver Oliver Martin remained out of the lineup, and wideout Omar Manning was a late scratch before kickoff with an injury.

Then receiver Zavier Betts and top tight end Austin Allen got dinged up during Saturday's game and did not return.

It's unlikely we'll get a detailed injury update on many of those players this week, but the Huskers better hope they're as close to full power as possible by Saturday.

This offense has enough problems moving the football consistently, let alone with that much firepower on the sideline.

Kicker Connor Culp, who missed just two kicks in 2020, has already missed a combined five field goals and extra points through three games.
Kicker Connor Culp, who missed just two kicks in 2020, has already missed a combined five field goals and extra points through three games. (Associated Press)

3. What is the matter with Connor Culp?

One of Nebraska's most productive and reliable players last season, Connor Culp is on the verge of being a full-blown liability for Nebraska after three games.

The reigning Big Ten Kicker of the Year has been a shell of his 2020 form thus far, missing three of his first five field goal attempts and two of his first 12 extra points.

This is a guy who made 33 of his 35 total kicks last season, which makes his struggles so glaring.

Head coach Scott Frost seemed as baffled as anyone about Culp's issues, but he continued to back his kicker.

"I am not sure what is going on with Connor, but he will get it fixed," Frost said. "I do not want it to turn into a mental thing for him. He is too talented.”

4. How much longer will Frost stick with Taylor-Britt at PR?

Once again, one of the most pressing questions facing Nebraska revolves around keeping Cam Taylor-Britt at punt returner.

Frost has repeatedly said that the junior cornerback was one of the Huskers' best players and most dynamic playmakers with the ball in his hands in the return game.

Unfortunately, all that's shown through the first three games this season RFR and back into last year is that the risk has far outweighed the reward with him in that role.

After a baffling decision that led to a safety at Illinois and a muffed punt for a turnover against Fordham, Taylor-Britt was involved in another punt return blunder vs. Buffalo.

While he didn't even touch the ball, he failed to call off his blockers to get out of the way as the punt fell short. A teammate bumped Taylor-Britt, and the ball bounced off Isaac Gifford into the hands of a Buffalo player.

Samori Toure was the "safe" return man with Martin out on Saturday, and while he didn't attempt to return a punt, he made the right decision on every opportunity. Right now, that's more important than play-making potential.

5. How many fans will travel to Norman?

Ten years ago, this would have been a migration game for Nebraska fans.

On the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century, rekindling the old Big Eight and Big 12 Conference rivalry with Oklahoma was supposed to be a celebration for both programs.

Instead, there seems to be a looming fear among the Big Red faithful that Saturday will inevitably be another nationally televised embarrassment for their Huskers.

Similar trips to USC in 2006, Oregon in 2017, and Colorado in 2019, where 25,000-plus NU fans traveled en masse only to watch ugly defeats, have taken their toll on supporters tired of investing so much for so little in return.

The Week 0 loss at Illinois was a gut-punch to fan enthusiasm to start this season. Have the last two weeks been enough to get Husker Nation back on board enough to try and take over Norman, Okla., one more time?