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November 7, 2009

Callahan's take: Green needs to make plays

It's Nebraska and Oklahoma. Yes this game has lost some of its national luster over the years, but the tradition of this rivalry speaks for itself.

However, the Sooners have dominated this match-up in the 2000's, winning five out of the six meetings. Do the Huskers have a chance to end their four game losing streak against OU? Here are today's five keys to victory along with our Huskers Illustrated staff predictions.

NU can't afford a slow start

Before Nebraska even blinked, the Huskers found themselves down 28-0 in the first quarter at Oklahoma in 2008.

Needless to say the NU can't afford a start like this. OU head coach Bob Stoops is notorious for his ability to put opponents away early by dictating the tempo and pace of the game. Nebraska can't let that happen on Saturday. They need to come out and match the Sooners blow for blow.

Get to Jones early

If there's one player Nebraska has to get to early and often, it's OU quarterback Landry Jones. In a road game loss at Miami earlier this season the Hurricane defense did a great job of getting to him to rattle his confidence.

NU's defense has to get early pressure on him with their front four. If they are able to get pressure on Jones with just four, it will allow head coach Bo Pelini more opportunities to do creative things with his coverage schemes.

Run the football with some success

If Nebraska does not run the football with some sort of respectability, it's going to be hard to win this game.

With that said, the Huskers are probably going to need at least 15 quality touches from junior running back Roy Helu. If they can get this type of effort from Helu it will take the pressure off NU's other running backs and freshman quarterback Cody Green.

Green has to make plays

We've heard so much about the potential of Green at quarterback. Last week at Baylor he showed flashes of why the Husker coach staff is so high on his abilities. Today Green is going to have to take that to a whole different level if NU wants to win.

Not only does Green have to make plays with his feet, but he has to be able get rid of the ball under pressure and find the open man. I expect we'll see some option looks from Green, along with some different play action and boot leg rollout type plays.

Keep the crowd into the game

When I talk to a lot of Husker fans about this game, it's almost as if everybody is expecting to lose to Oklahoma. The reason why is it's been a while since NU has won a game like this and to me Husker fans have become mentally trained to take losses like this.

That mentality has to change today at Memorial Stadium. The point spread is only four points for a reason. These teams are more evenly matched then people then think. Both the Huskers and Sooners possess outstanding defenses with young developing offenses.

However, at the end of the day I will go with Oklahoma to win and cover the four point spread. Until Nebraska's offense can show they've improved, it's hard to pick the Huskers in this one.

Callahan's Prediction: Oklahoma 24 Nebraska 19
Season Record: 6-2 overall; 5-3 vs. points

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