Oklahoma expert gives his take and prediction on Saturday's game in Norman
Nebraska will travel to Oklahoma for a game for the first time since the 2008 season.
To get some more perspective on the match-up, HuskerOnline caught up with SoonerScoop's Bob Przybylo in this week's "Ask the Expert" breakdown to get his take and prediction on Saturday.
What did we learn about Oklahoma vs. Tulane and how did they address it vs. Western Carolina?
"We learned that OU, very often, believes it has the job done in the third quarter and can mentally letdown and find itself in trouble. Turning a 37-14 halftime advantage into a 40-35 nail-biter is something OU fans have seen way too often, especially under Lincoln Riley.
"What was harped was preparation. How you prepare Tuesday and Wednesday is going to be reflected by performance Saturday. To a man, every player said last Tuesday and Wednesday was brutal but necessary.
"The 76-0 victory shows it a bit, but now it’s about making sure you don’t take too much stock in that one outing against an overmatched opponent.
If OU truly learned anything from Tulane, this is the week where it should actually resonate."
Through two games, what has been the strength of this OU team?
"Good question. Despite the collapse in the second half vs. the Green Wave, still rolling with the defensive line. There are some top-tier playmakers in that group between Perrion Winfrey, Nik Bonitto and Isaiah Thomas, especially when it comes to rushing the passer.
"And what defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has done a tremendous job of doing is building the depth. OU played 31 guys on defense vs. Tulane and 39 vs. Western Carolina. Not saying it’ll reach the 30-man mark this time around, but those guys are ready if Grinch goes that direction.
"Quarterback Spencer Rattler really took that preparation jump last week, just in terms of his mechanics and the way he carried himself. If that Rattler continues to appear, that’s going to become a scary offensive group.
"No OU fan wants this to be a strength, but kicking is. Gabe Brkic has made four field goals of more than 50 yards this season. You want touchdowns instead of field goals, but there’s a real feeling of OU can put up some points no matter what once it crosses midfield."
How does Spencer Rattler stack up with past OU quarterbacks under Lincoln Riley?
"A work in progress. Being a five-star quarterback for the 2019 class and having everybody anoint you as the next big thing can be a lot to handle. There are games where you feel like Rattler has found that groove and others where you can tell he still has so much to learn.
"His arm is incredible, and he can almost get to a borderline arrogant point with it because he believes he can make any throw into any window because he’s that good.
"Rattler can make plays with his legs, but he’s not the threat of a Jalen Hurts and certainly not in the same league as Kyler Murray.
"I think Rattler is still finding his voice. It was a great sign for him to be elected as one of the five captains for the team, but he’s learning what his leadership looks like."
What does this game mean to the Oklahoma fan base if anything to rekindle a past rival and honor the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century?
"It means a lot, a whole heck of a lot. It means so much that athletic director Joe Castiglione said what he said about the complete disappointment of the game earning an 11 a.m. time slot.
"Definitely a strange week, though. You can tell fans and coaches have their memories, but none of these current players really know this game or the legendary players. Forget names like Johnny Rodgers or Billy Sims, even names like Eric Crouch and Josh Heupel don’t really strike a chord.
"Hopefully, though, this weekend sort of shines a light on how great this game and rivalry has been and what it’s meant to college football.
"I know a lot of planned pageantry had to go to the wayside because of the early kick, but it should still be a memorable weekend."
What is your biggest concern for OU in this match-up vs. Nebraska, and on the flip side what is the biggest match-up advantage you see for the Sooners?
"The concern is what it tends to be often for OU – start off so fast and then never being able to maintain that intensity and execution the rest of the way.
"The Sooners can look like the best team in the country for spurts of time. Then there are those unexplained lulls that nobody can figure out.
"Lincoln Riley dials up one heck of a first half or so, and then the execution gets a lot more iffy. No OU fan wants to go through another game like that.
"Nothing feels like a massive advantage, but just a lot of OU has the edge there. And until something changes, sticking with the defensive line. They’re fresh, healthy and have been called out by Grinch to be better than who they were in 2020. You were good, yes, but it’s a new season and time for a new you."
Finally, what is your breakdown and score prediction for Saturday’s game in Norman?
"Always hate predictions, but here goes. Think OU almost has too much emotion early and makes a couple of mistakes. It’s going to be the defense to help settle the offense down with a timely takeaway or two, and then Rattler and company will get rolling.
"It won’t be the 50-point blowout that some fans will want, but OU does enough to separate itself on the scoreboard to earn a 44-20 win and another busy day kicking field goals for Brkic."