The Weekly Rundown: Ready or not, Oklahoma week is here
Ready or not, Oklahoma week is officially here for Nebraska. We start your Monday off with the Weekly Rundown column.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
A week full of Nebraska-Oklahoma history: There is no question we are going to get a lot of history lessons this week on what this game and series means.
Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Game of the Century, one of the main reasons why this game was put on by both NU and OU. It's hard to believe these two schools have not played since the 2010 Big Ten Championship game in Dallas where the Huskers blew a 17-0 lead to fall to the Sooners.
QB Adrian Martinez: When this football team needed a play, he put them on his back Saturday. The offense was really struggling until his 71-yard run. His two touchdown passes to Samori Toure also were big-time plays.
We haven't seen explosive plays like that from a Scott Frost offense since the Colorado game in 2019 when Maurice Washington had a couple of big game-breaking moments. Saturday produced four plays of 50+ yards.
LB Luke Reimer: The walk-on program is still very much a factor at Nebraska. Luke Reimer showed that again on Saturday, as he has Sunday abilities. Reimer finished with 16 tackles, one interception and a pass break-up. He also had a crucial fourth-down tackle that gave NU the ball back. His pick and return to the 1-yard line turned a 14-0 game into a blowout.
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander: Give credit where credit is due. Erik Chinander's crew hasn't allowed a touchdown in six quarters and they have held opponents under 400 yards for seven straight weeks - that's the best stretch at NU since 2009-2010. On Saturday they produced 21 quarterback pressures as well, dominating up-front.
These were my surprises of the week:
Explosive plays on offense: Welcome back explosive plays. Last year Nebraska's longest pass play of the year was a 45 yard flip to Zavier Betts and their longest run was 50 yards from Dedrick Mills at Rutgers.
On Saturday they produced three passes that went for 54, 68 and 68 yards and a run that went for 71 yards from Martinez.
Adrian Martinez threw two TD passes in a game: How about this stat: Saturday was the first time Martinez threw two touchdown passes in a game since at Maryland in 2019. That really puts NU's offensive identity woes in perspective the last few seasons.
TE Chris Hickman: After seeing just nine snaps vs. Fordham, Chris Hickman had a breakout game at tight end against Buffalo. The Omaha Burke product had three catches for 90 yards. With Austin Allen and Travis Volkolek out, he is really making the most of things.
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
Kicker Connor Culp: Three missed field goals by Connor Culp on Saturday. He missed two extra points at Illinois in Week 0. That's 11 points. As we know, NU's margin for error is not much. Those 11 points matter.
Saturday's game was a 28-3 win, but it probably should have been 45-3. Those missed kicks matter. Will Frost at all entertain trying someone else this week at kicker?
DB Cam Taylor-Britt: There was another punt return blunder this week that caused a turnover - that's three weeks in a row now.
Was it Cam Taylor-Britt's job to yell out to his blockers to move? Also, there were two times Taylor-Britt tried to jump the route vs. making the sure tackle, one came on a third-down where Buffalo was going to be pinned deep.
Nebraska "base" run plays: NU ran 11 zone-read runs and 20 inside zone handoffs on Saturday, according to PFF. Those are what Frost refers to as his "base run" plays.
Come hell or high water, Frost is going to call those plays until they can be executed properly. Right now, NU has run the zone-read 74 times and the inside power run 43 times in three games. That's 117 reps of their "base runs." Can the offensive line execute this at a serviceable level against Power Five competition?
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
Husker fans traveling to OU: What will things look like in Norman? Will we see a lot of Husker red at the game?
The secondary ticket market has dropped considerably. The "get-in" price was once over $300 for a face value ticket of $225. Now prices have dropped under $100 to as low as $85 for Saturday's 11 a.m. game in Norman.
TEs Austin Allen and Travis Volkolek: Will we see Nebraska's NFL prospect tight ends Austin Allen and Travis Volkolek back this week at OU? Allen left with a head injury, while Volkolek appeared to hurt his foot in Fall Camp. You have to think we might see both back on Saturday.
WRs Omar Manning and Oliver Martin: Both Oliver Martin and Omar Manning were also out on Saturday. Martin has been out for two weeks. Will the Huskers get them back this week? I feel good about Martin right now. We'll see how Manning practices this week.
Matching up vs. a Big 12 offense: How will Erik Chinander's defense match up with an elite Big 12 offense? Oklahoma, as we know, has been one of the most prolific offenses in college football under Lincoln Riley. This will be a true measuring stick of how good this 2021 Blackshirt defense truly is.