Red River Rivalry week had not yet begun, but Oklahoma was already feeling pretty good about its chances of defeating Texas for the fourth consecutive year after watching the Longhorns struggle in their 31-30 win at Iowa State. However, that optimism took a hit Sunday as the Sooners announced that outside linebacker Corey Nelson is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Nelson suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle in the third quarter of OU's 20-17 win over TCU on Saturday and is set to undergo surgery Tuesday.
A 6-foot-1, 226-pound senior, Nelson had 27 tackles, three tackles for loss with one sack, four pass breakups in five games this season, along with a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown at Notre Dame, thriving as the outside linebacker in OU's new 3-3-5 defense.
Nelson was well on his way to topping the productivity from his outstanding sophomore campaign, when he had 58 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss with 4.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery while starting in 11 of 13 games that season.
The OU defense took a noticeably step back after Nelson left the game, as the struggling Horned Frogs offense scored both of its touchdown and converted 3-of-8 third downs in the fourth quarter after failing to do so in the first three quarters.
Redshirt junior Aaron Franklin and freshman Dominique Alexander were listed as Nelson's backups on the most recent depth chart, but neither recorded a tackle against TCU.
Assuming Nelson is unable to return this season as expected, his next step will be to try to return in time to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine or Oklahoma's pro day next year. Nelson would most likely project as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, but could be viewed by some teams as a potential safety.