The Nebraska Cornhuskers hosted the Oklahoma Sooners in a one-sided contest at Memorial Stadium. Nebraska football absorbed a crushing 49-14 defeat, falling to 1-3 in the 2022 college football season. Here are some takeaways from Nebraska’s demoralizing loss to Oklahoma this past week.
It was the end of a wild week for Nebraska football. Former Nebraska head coach Scott Frost was sacked last Saturday after a heartbreaking loss to Georgia Southern. Following that, the Huskers had to turn around and prepare for a game against No. 6 Oklahoma.
The Cornhuskers’ blowout defeat against the Sooners, though, was simply the culmination of a difficult week. Did it rub salt on the proverbial wound? Maybe. Will it trigger a stronger response for the rest of the season? We’ll see.
Let’s take a look at four takeaways from Nebraska football’s demoralizing Week 3 loss to Oklahoma.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) September 17, 2022
Throughout the first three games, Nebraska’s offense gradually improved in terms of points scored. The Cornhuskers even scored a season-high 42 points a week ago in their defeat to Georgia Southern. They were also able to keep junior quarterback Casey Thompson relatively secure in the backfield, allowing just over two sacks a game.
In this matchup, the offense looked good only on its first drive, which culminated in a score. Afterward, it was lucky to obtain a first down for the rest of the game. A porous offensive line that allowed big losses hampered nearly every drive for the Huskers thereafter. QB Casey Thompson was sacked a total of four times for 32 yards as Nebraska allowed nine tackles for a total of 56 yards. That’s in contrast to 65 yards lost in the Huskers’ previous three games combined.
Junior running back Anthony Grant and freshman running back Ajay Allen fared no better in the run game, thanks in large part to that line. The pair combined for only 85 rushing yards in the game, which when combined with Thompson’s 129 throwing yards resulted in the game’s lone score on that first drive.
Thompson struggled to locate his receivers and running backs with little to no time to throw and almost no gaps to run through. After the offense’s success in the first three games, it’s troubling to see how quickly everything came apart here.
Nebraska football’s defense also seemed befuddled against Oklahoma. While the offense failed to score, the defense lacked almost all of the solutions required to halt the Sooners’ powerful offense.
Oklahoma totaled 580 yards of offense against the Huskers. While that number was lower than what the Sooners gave up to Georgia Southern, the Sooners relaxed a bit in the second half.
Though the defense pushed several drives to a halt, the scores it gave up much outweighed those. The Cornhusker defense allowed a 61-yard touchdown run on a broken play, two 20-plus-yard touchdown passes, and four rushing scores in the first half alone. Oklahoma football scored two more scores, each from 15 yards or beyond, in the second half. It was essentially a nightmare for the Nebraska defense.
By the time the fourth quarter began, both teams’ reserves were on the field, further underscoring the lopsided nature of the contest. It’s difficult to predict what can turn the Nebraska defense around when there isn’t much good improvement from week to week.
Nebraska football interim head coach Mickey Joseph faced a significant hurdle in his debut game. He had less than a week to prepare the team for a game against a top-ten-ranked opponent.
While Nebraska had a chance to put up a fight against Oklahoma, it’s reasonable to say that things couldn’t have gone any worse in the coach’s debut. A rout of a longstanding adversary at home on FOX Big Noon Kickoff is hardly the kind of outcome a new head coach wants on his CV. Given the circumstances, however, there was probably only so much Joseph could do to improve and prepare the squad.
Though this team is off to a difficult start, they did play what may be the hardest opponent on their schedule, depending on your opinion of Michigan. So, with his first blowout defeat and major opponent behind him, Joseph has nowhere to go but up. Fortunately, he has more than a week to prepare his squad for the next game following the bye.
As the team approaches its bye week, there are concerns regarding what the Huskers can do to prepare for the Big Ten conference’s eight-game run. This setback demonstrates that, while the Nebraska football defense hasn’t changed much from week to week, the offense can shift substantially depending on the defense it faces.
The team’s next opponent is Indiana, who has a 3-0 record but has weaknesses that Nebraska can exploit. The Hoosiers have allowed more than 20 points in each of their three games this season, while their offense has averaged over 30 points per game. A win is feasible if the Huskers’ offense can get back on track and the defense improves.
Overall, the key for the Huskers to climb out of this hole is to capitalize on the chances ahead of them. That begins with making the most of this bye week.