Welcome to the Hot Topic, a weekly look at the state of Nebraska football. Each week on the Life in the Red Podcast, Parker Gabriel, Steven M. Sipple and Chris Basnett will discuss an important topic heading into that week's game, and that discussion will appear in the Journal Star's Huskers section on the day before gameday.
Nebraska beats Oklahoma if...
Parker: It would have to be a statement game for Nebraska's defense, I think that's first and foremost. Of course, if they play brilliantly on defense and score a bunch of points on offense and dominate special teams, sure, that'll get it done. But I think to me, the defense, you probably have to take the football away a couple times from Oklahoma. Tulane took it away twice. And conversely, Oklahoma turned three Tulane turnovers into nine points. They didn't really capitalize when Tulane turned the ball over.
So to me, Nebraska's defense has to take the football away. If Spencer Rattler throws Nebraska the ball, which he's done occasionally — he threw two interceptions against Tulane — you've got to take advantage of that.
Then I think the way that Nebraska's defense can get some help from its offense is if it looks like it did last week. Last week wasn't a brilliant offensive performance by Nebraska by any stretch of the imagination, but they did a good job of keeping the defense in plus situations (Buffalo started one possession outside its own 25-yard line).
If you can make Oklahoma have to go the length of the field every time, or almost every time, this is a good enough defense where they might get their fair share of stops.
Steven: OK, Baz, I'll keep it really short. If this happens, I'll also faint in my chair and come to and write about it. If Cam Taylor-Britt returns a punt for a touchdown, Nebraska will win the game. Because how could they not if that happens, in the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century.
Chris: Nebraska doesn't have to play a perfect game to win, but they need to play clean. And it's the stuff we talk about every week: Don't turn it over in your own end, don't set Oklahoma up with short fields, don't make it any easier for them than it's already going to be.
Oklahoma is averaging 49 points per game at home since Lincoln Riley took over. They're going to score. Don't make it any easier for them than it has to be. And Parker touched on that. Keep your defense in plus situations, avoid the catastrophic punt return fumble, kickoff fumble, whatever it may be.
If you can shorten the game with your running game a little bit, and give Adrian Martinez time to make a couple big plays, that's probably how you do it.