Scott Frost might not be able to beat coach Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners, but if he can at least be competitive in this game, his hot seat in Nebraska might become a little cooler. Oklahoma has every expectation that it will contend for the national championship this season and knows it needs to get a lot better, especially on defense. It’s time for a revival of a historic and important college football rivalry, so let’s take a look at the NCAA odds.
|Game: Nebraska (2-1) at Oklahoma (2-0)
Location: Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium
Time: 12 p.m. ET
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Over/Under||Team Total|
The last meeting between these teams was in December of 2010 in the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma won, 23-20. This is one of the classic rivalries in college football, being resurrected here. Oklahoma and Nebraska played every year without interruption from 1928 through 1997. Their rivalry reached its height in the 1970s and 1980s.
The 1971 game is often referred to as the “Game of the Century,” and also as one of college football’s greatest games. From the late 1970s through the late 1980s, the winner of Nebraska-Oklahoma nearly always represented the Big Eight Conference in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Night. This is the first regular-season meeting in the series since 2009. Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 45-38-3 in 86 meetings.
Next game: at Michigan State
Nebraska beat Buffalo 28-3 in a game that hit the under. Nebraska covered the spread by winning by 25 points. Nebraska is 1-1 against the spread and has hit the under twice. None of its three games have involved more than 55 points this season.
The victory over Buffalo was better than some people expected, but Nebraska is in a situation where its offense is still a problem. Scoring over 50 points against Fordham, a weak opponent, on Sept. 4 does not indicate a real resurgence on offense.
Nebraska looked bad on offense in its first game on Aug. 28 against Illinois and looked similarly sluggish on offense against Buffalo. The Cornhuskers do not have elite weapons on offense, so while their defense has improved the past two weeks, they don’t have a lot of balance. Also, keep in mind that Fordham and Buffalo are not especially imposing or physical. Oklahoma presents a far bigger challenge.
Nebraska has tight end Austin Allen listed as questionable with a head injury. Tight end Travis Vokolek is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Defensive lineman Casey Rogers is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Receiver Oliver Martin is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Receiver Omar Manning is questionable with a lower-body injury. Tight end Thomas Fidone is out with a knee injury. Linebacker Will Honas is out for the season with a knee injury.
Next game: vs West Virginia
The Sooners crushed Western Carolina, 76-0, so that was an easy win for those who bet online. Western Carolina is a small school from a lower competitive division, so it’s hard to assign much of any value to the final score, but Oklahoma generally did do what it was supposed to do. Oklahoma is 1-1 against the spread this season and has hit the over in each of its first two games, which have both involved at least 75 points.
Oklahoma is in many ways the opposite of Nebraska. The offense is the unit that has improved. The defense is the question mark. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch watched his defense give up 35 points in Week 1 to Tulane, and it’s hard to say that anything which happened against a cupcake opponent, Western Carolina, meaningfully changes the equation for the Sooners. Nebraska will do a better job of revealing where the Sooners truly stand.
Cornerback Woodi Washington is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Receiver Brian Darby is out for undisclosed reasons. Defensive end Nathan Rawlins-Kibonge is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Defensive back Kendall Dennis is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Receiver Theo Wease is out. Running back Marcus Major is out for the season due to academic issues.
Betting on the Game
The Oklahoma Sooners are a massive moneyline favorite, and they should be. One simple way to process this game is to realize that the team Nebraska lost to, Illinois, has subsequently lost to Texas-San Antonio and Virginia. That was not a good Illinois team Nebraska lost to. It’s true that Oklahoma struggled with Tulane, but the Sooners have struggled in previous season openers, only to gradually find their form and get better with each game over the course of the season. Nebraska has not seen anything like Oklahoma’s overall speed and talent.
After playing Fordham and Buffalo, it will seem as though the Huskers are in a completely different universe, one in which they won’t be comfortable.
The 22-point spread is interesting because Oklahoma’s defense is not a finished product. The Sooners insisted they were much improved on defense entering this season, but the terrible showing against Tulane proved they had a lot of work to do.
While there is no question Oklahoma will win this game, there’s plenty of doubt about the ability of this defense to put the clamps on opponents. Nebraska can’t keep pace with Oklahoma in a shootout, but it can still create enough points to lose by only 17 or 20. Take them with your college football picks against the spread.
The over-under of 61.5 begs for an over. Oklahoma is a great-offense, bad-defense team, exactly the kind of team which creates overs. Nebraska’s offense might be mediocre, but if Oklahoma gets a 35-point lead in the third quarter, it will then put in backup players in the fourth quarter, and that’s when Nebraska can score 14 or more points to push the game over the number.
Nebraska’s defense has been better the past two weeks, but to emphasize the point, Buffalo and Fordham offer no real basis for preparation this week. Oklahoma is in an entirely different league.