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The Weekly Rundown: Can Nebraska build off Oklahoma?

Can Nebraska take another step forward this week after their strong performance at No. 3 Oklahoma? We start your Monday off with the Weekly Rundown column.

Sure bets

You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:

2021 Blackshirts: Nebraska's defense held Oklahoma to just over 400 yards and 23 points. It was the lowest point total of the Lincoln Riley era, as it was the first time in 68 games OU has not scored 27 points.

Erik Chinander's guys played well enough to win the game. They also only allowed a long play of just 23 yards on the day to one of the most explosive offenses in the country.

Healthy Husker tight ends: Having Austin Allen and Travis Volkolek together on Saturday changed the Husker's offense. These guys add a presence in both the receiving and blocking game when they are out there together.

Big Ten physicality: I wrote all week going into the game against Oklahoma the physicality of playing in the Big Ten was Nebraska's biggest edge going into Saturday.

I thought that's how things played out, as NU looked like a much bigger and physical team at times and more than held their own against the No. 3 ranked team in the country.

History and tradition: College football is great because of history and tradition. We got that this weekend in Norman.

We saw two proud programs with great fan bases out in full force. The respect was mutual on both sides too. Everyone left Norman with a smile on their face. Games like Saturday are why we are fans of college football and those are the moments that keep us coming back.

During this era of conference realignment, "chasing the money" has taken away several of these traditional match-ups in college football.

WR Zavier Betts.
WR Zavier Betts. (Associated Press)


These were my surprises of the week:

Teddy Prochazka to tight end: We knew Nebraska was high on true freshman Teddy Prochazka, but the problem is where do you put him? Credit Frost and his staff for creating a plan for Prochazka to play tight end in a blocking situation. I expect we will see more of that going forward.

Punter William Przystup: Daniel Cerni started the first three games at punter, but it appears William Przystup is back in the driver's seat after averaging 50+ yards on Saturday. Przystup by the way is a walk-on, while Cerni is on scholarship. Cerni is reportedly battling knee soreness after his surgery last fall.

Running back Rahmir Johnson: We have seen Nebraska use Gabe Ervin Jr. and Markese Stepp in featured roles at the running back spot.

On Saturday at OU it was Rahmir Johnson, who is the fastest of NU's backs. Not sure anyone could have predicted we would see Johnson in the lead role on Saturday. He ran the hardest we have ever seen from him in a Husker uniform.

Omar Manning and Zavier Betts: Omar Manning didn't play against Buffalo with an injury, while Zavier Betts left the game last week injured. Nobody knew what to expect on Saturday, and both Manning and Betts showed up in a big way to produce some explosive plays.

Kicker Connor Culp.
Kicker Connor Culp. (Associated Press)

The jury is still out

Questions still surround these things:

Special teams and the kicking game: Nebraska has missed five field goals and three extra points over four games. That's 18 lost points.

NU's margin of defeat in their two losses is a combined 15 points, but really 13 if you take away the 2 point run back on the blocked extra point last week. This has been the difference. NU's margin for error is so small. Frost has some tough decisions on what to do with Connor Culp, as they can't afford to keep points off the board in Big Ten play.

Nebraska's offensive line: I think we have come to the conclusion through four games this is not going to be the strength of the football team. Frost needs to build a game plan that allows his line to have success.

At Oklahoma, that meant using more max protect sets and passing out of play-action run blocking sets. NU's line actually only dropped back in traditional pass pro 11 times vs. OU according to PFF.

Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler: I came into Saturday's game expecting to see one of the best college football quarterbacks I had seen in years. Spencer Rattler was good, but I don't put him anywhere near the same level as some of the elite Big Ten quarterbacks we've seen recently like Justin Fields.

He's a very good quarterback, but I didn't walk away Saturday thinking he's the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy.

RB Gabe Ervin Jr.
RB Gabe Ervin Jr. (USA Today)

This has my attention 

Moving forward, this has my attention:

RB Gabe Ervin Jr.'s knee: Gabe Ervin Jr. left Saturday's game with a right knee injury. It did not look good. What will we learn from Frost on this today? The only silver lining is if he's out for the season, the injury happened in Game 4 and he can still use his redshirt.

WR Oliver Martin: One of the biggest injury mysteries on the team remains wide receiver, Oliver Martin. The Iowa native remains out with a leg injury suffered at Illinois. It sounds like it's simply a pain tolerance deal. You hope he can turn a corner here this week and be back on the field.

Michigan State: How about Sparty? Michigan State is the surprise team of the Big Ten with their 3-0 start that featured wins over Miami and Northwestern. It's going to be a hornet's nest going into East Lansing for a night game. This will also be the Huskers second straight week playing on grass. That hasn't happened since 2014. Only Penn State, Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan State play on grass fields in the Big Ten.

Sean Callahan can be reached at and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap-Tuesday's at 7 pm.