Oklahoma-Nebraska matchup stuffed with ‘underlying tales’

It doesn’t take a faculty soccer aficionado to know that Saturday’s OklahomaNebraska sport could have a wholly completely different really feel to it than final yr’s matchup … or any earlier matchup between these two storied rivals.

The Sooners and Cornhuskers have performed one another 87 occasions, courting again to 1912. However as many on-field battles as these two packages have had, this yr’s model appears to be overshadowed by the tales going down off the sector.

FOX Sports activities faculty soccer analyst Joel Klatt – who will name this weekend’s Oklahoma-Nebraska sport alongside Gus Johnson and Jenny Taft (Saturday, 12 p.m. ET on FOX) – went so far as saying that he can’t keep in mind calling a sport with this many storylines off the sector.

Klatt defined his stance throughout the newest episode of his new podcast, “The Joel Klatt Show.”

“This game is so different because of the underlying stories,” Klatt mentioned. “The (storylines) on the field almost pale in comparison.”

Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry and waiting for this weekend

Joel Klatt discusses the Oklahoma and the Nebraska rivalry. This matchup first began in 1912 and shall be electrical this weekend on FOX.

For Oklahoma, this can function this system’s first take a look at in opposition to a Energy 5 opponent with Brent Venables on the helm. The previous Broyles Award winner spent the previous 10 seasons as Clemson’s defensive coordinator earlier than being named the Sooners’ head coach again in December. Earlier than arriving at Clemson, Venables was part of Oklahoma’s employees from 1999 to 2011, serving as co-defensive coordinator from 1999-03 and defensive coordinator from 2004-11.

He brings a defense-first mentality to this system, which is one thing Oklahoma followers haven’t been accustomed to as of late.

“From the OU perspective, you’ve got this new coach and this new style of football that you’re going to have to be OK with being in tight ball games in the first half,” Klatt mentioned of the Sooners, who held a slim 7-3 lead over unranked Kent State at halftime final weekend. “This is a different style that they’re having to get used to under Brent Venables.”

The Sooners’ offense got here to life after halftime, scoring 26 unanswered factors and holding Kent State scoreless within the second half en path to a 33-3 victory. Klatt was impressed with the second-half surge from Venables’ crew, however much more impressed with the crew’s chemistry and the way shortly this system has purchased into Venables and his new teaching model.

This led to Klatt laying out three causes Oklahoma has developed such nice chemistry below Venables.

“First off, this guy was an immensely popular hire within the fan base, within the alums and within the locker room,” Klatt mentioned. “You win the modern athlete in the locker room because of his success at Clemson. And he also has the fan base and alumni because he coached at Oklahoma.

“He has a singular mix of latest and previous, which permits him to return in with constructive momentum proper from the beginning.”

One of the many challenges Venables faced upon his arrival at Oklahoma was filling out a roster that was ravished by the transfer portal. The Sooners saw several key starters from last year’s team, including Heisman hopeful QB Caleb Williams, leave for other opportunities. Generally, it takes head coaches at least a year or two to build a roster to their liking through recruiting and the transfer portal, but this year’s Oklahoma team appears to be an exception.

“The switch portal now lets you deliver within the guys that you realize are going to be dedicated to you,” Klatt said. “However it additionally does one thing below the floor, which is the fellows that aren’t positive about you and aren’t purchased in can present themselves the door and go away this system. 

“You’ve got this underlying issue with the structure of college football, which allows Brent Venables to get his team in that locker room much quicker than in the past.”

The third cause why Oklahoma has developed excellent chemistry is kind of easy, in response to Klatt.

“They are seeing success on the field,” Klatt mentioned. “This is a coach that comes in as a defensive-oriented coach and the defense, right away, is showing signs of improvement. These guys feel like this is trending in the right direction.”

Oklahoma HC Brent Venables talks Sooners’ protection, Jeff Lebby’s influence, and extra

Oklahoma HC Brent Venables talks Sooners' defense, Jeff Lebby's impact, and more

Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables joins the present to speak in regards to the Sooners’ sturdy begin to the season and Jeff Lebby’s influence on offensive play calling.

On the opposite aspect of the matchup, issues haven’t been trending in a constructive route for the Cornhuskers. After firing head coach Scott Frost on Sunday following the crew’s 1-2 begin, former Nebraska quarterback Mickey Joseph will take over on an interim degree. 

Joseph – who served as a receivers coach and assistant head coach at LSU earlier than becoming a member of the Cornhuskers’ employees this yr – is tasked with making an attempt to retain some degree of buy-in and self-discipline from each the present gamers on the Nebraska roster and the teaching employees.

“The distractions for this coaching staff alone are immense,” Klatt mentioned. “They are immeasurable of what’s going on at Nebraska.”

The strain and distractions surrounding the soccer program have definitely reached the Nebraska athletics administration degree as effectively, together with vice chancellor for athletics Trev Alberts.  The Nebraska soccer program has bought out each house sport courting again to 1962, however in response to Klatt, there are a number of convention video games this season which have but to promote out, which means this system’s 60-year sellout streak may very effectively be in jeopardy.

“I know Nebraska fans don’t want that to end,” Klatt mentioned of the sellout streak. “So, Trev Alberts is trying to retain some positivity by saying, ‘there’s a new direction coming.’

“All this is happening, and guess what? We nonetheless need to play a sport.”

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