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Nebraska and Oklahoma will play for the first time since 2010 on Sept. 18 in Norman.

There has been controversy on both sides of this match-up. The Huskers reportedly tried to get out of the game this off-season without the Sooners knowing.

This past week we also learned the game will kick off at 11 a.m. on FOX, which led to a very upset statement from Oklahoma’s leadership. This was a game OU really wanted to be played at night to honor the 50-year anniversary of the famous Game of the Century.

To learn more about Oklahoma we caught up with Publisher Carey Murdock to get his take on their spring and the game with the Huskers.

Spring overview

There’s really no other way to say it. This is a top 4 team right now in college football and without a doubt the top team on paper in the Big 12 Conference.

They also have one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in quarterback Spencer Rattler, who is a preseason first-team All-American by both Lindy’s and Athlon.

The other thing that’s unique about this OU team is they have an elite-level defense, in which defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has been building up the last few years.

Ever since the Sooners lost to Georgia and LSU in the College Football Playoff because of their play on defense, they have worked hard to reshape the unit. Murdock said they have a chance to be “dominating” in 2021.

Returning starters 

Oklahoma returns six starters on offense and seven on defense. They return All-Big 12 kicker Gabe Brkic, along with punter Reeve Mundschau.

Their big hole on offense is the line, where they will have three new starters.

On defense, they must replace both corners and their nickel but return both safeties behind them.

QB Spencer Rattler.
QB Spencer Rattler. (USA Today Sports)

Offensive star: QB Spencer Rattler 

After some early growing pains last season, sophomore Oklahoma quarterback Spener Rattler was one of the best signal-callers in college football.

He played lights out down the stretch helping the Sooners beat Iowa State and Florida to capture the Big 12 title and win the Sugar Bowl.

In 2020, Rattler threw for 3,031 yards for 28 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes. He also rushed for six touchdowns.

LB Nik Bonitto.
LB Nik Bonitto. (USA Today Sports)

Defensive star: LB  Nik Bonitto

OU’s defense got a big boost when junior outside linebacker Nik Bonitto decided to return for another year vs. declaring for the draft.

Bonitto is a preseason first-team All-American and one of the best pass rushers in all of college football.

According to PFF, Bonitto led the nation in overall pressure rate, finishing with 10.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and 10 quarterback hurries.

Biggest question: Offensive line 

The biggest question right now for Oklahoma heading into 2021 is the overall cohesiveness of their offensive line. Replacing veteran Creed Humphrey at center has been easier said than done. Coming out of the spring Andrew Raym could end up winning that spot according to Murdock.

Originally UCLA transfer Chris Murray was brought in to win the job, but he didn’t have a big spring. That has put Raym in a position to be the guy.

Tennessee transfer Wanta Morris was also brought in to take over the left tackle job from Erik Swenson, who struggled at times a year ago and is the projected No. 2 in 2021.

The Sooners hit the portal hard to address their offensive line questions, and it appears at least one of the two additions they made will be a starter in 2021.

Oklahoma and Nebraska last met in the 2010 Big 12 title game in Dallas.
Oklahoma and Nebraska last met in the 2010 Big 12 title game in Dallas. (Getty Images)

Early outlook on Nebraska vs. Oklahoma 

Murdock on OU’s response to the 11 a.m. kick time: “It’s not about being upset it’s at 11:00 a.m., it’s about the fanbase gets sick of having to– people driving from Dallas or Tulsa. They want to be able to spend a day at Norman just having a celebration of a football game. With 11:00 a.m, they have to get up early, you can’t go out and tailgate and drink and get juiced up for the game. It goes also with the TV contract and just being in the Big 12 and OU fans saying, ‘Well, if we were in the SEC, we’d be playing premiere night games all the time. Why are we in this stupid conference?’ That kind of thing.

“Which I’m sure Nebraska fans would say, ‘Well, Oklahoma, you have no one to blame but yourselves, other than Texas.’ The reason they lost to Kansas State is because Kansas State is always a mediocre team, but they’re really good and they’re always overlooked. Maybe they overlooked Nebraska because– the state their program’s in right now.”

Murdock on OU vs. Nebraska: “It’s amazing. We’re getting old. The length of memories on kids now, I’m sure most kids don’t even know who Ndamukong Suh was other than he’s a guy that plays in the NFL that makes a lot of money.

“I remember going to watch that game in Lincoln when it seemed like Landry Jones threw 20 interceptions in that game and Ndamukong Suh was just everywhere. These kids never saw that game, and those were two very mediocre teams that played. They don’t remember Rex Burkhead playing in college, they don’t remember the last of the Big 12 championship match-ups from 2010.. 2010 is a lifetime ago to those kids. They don’t know any of those players.”

Overall 2021 win-loss expectations  

Murdock: “It’s get to the playoffs. The strange thing about Oklahoma has been, even last year, they lost two games and they were still right there at the precipice. If they hadn’t lost that Kansas State game, they probably would’ve been in the playoffs, which I think they got the best four teams regardless. Oklahoma was playing really well at the end of the season. They had to go through a lot of growing pains with Spencer Rattler when he got benched in that Texas game.

“You’ve even heard players talk about this. That hasn’t happened in a very long time. This is a potential national championship team. Whether it’s 11-1, 12-0, if they can just get to the playoffs again, that’s all the fans want. That’s the expectation, and then of course, to win.”