A strong start soon turned ugly in Lincoln. No. 6 Oklahoma rolled in and spoiled Mickey Joseph’s debut as interim head coach of Nebraska.

The 49-14 Sooners’ win served as a microcosm of Nebraska’s problems. Defensive failures, offensive line woes, turnovers … they all reared their ugly heads. Joseph has his work cut out. That’s not news to anyone.

But the way things spiraled out of control was a shock to many. Joseph said the defense would play faster. Fill gaps. Be more disciplined.

However, Oklahoma and Central Florida transfer quarterback Dillon Gabriel had a field day. The MVP might have been new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Lebby’s play-calling was a work of art. Runs, passes, trick plays. The Sooners had it all working.

Oklahoma scored TDs on 6 of its first 9 possessions. Nebraska had no answer defensively. Tackling woes, which plagued the Huskers in recent weeks, were not suddenly corrected.

The defensive shortcomings were parlayed by an offensive line that failed to protect QB Casey Thompson. Thompson left for good in the 3rd quarter. He took several hits and was sacked 4 times.

Nebraska left tackle Teddy Prochaska didn’t play due to a shoulder injury. Providing protection for Thompson against the Sooners’ front 4 proved too tall a task.

The talent gap on the field was noticeable. Oklahoma held distinct advantages in speed and strength. Nebraska’s Anthony Grant, who went over 100 yards in his first 3 starts, was held under 40.

Things got so bad, FOX’s Gus Johnson bailed on calling the 2nd half. The network cited illness, but viewers know the one-sided affair was a snooze fest.

Joel Klatt and Brady Quinn filled in admirably considering the circumstances.

The Huskers? Not sure where to begin. Joseph and his staff have work to do.

Where to begin

An offense that put up points in its first 3 games, was clearly outmatched. Erik Chinander’s defense has no confidence and no answers.

The silver lining is a bye week is on deck. It gives Joseph and his staff a chance to recalibrate.

Defensive miscues must be addressed. Too many missed tackles. Missed assignments. For Nebraska to find an ounce of competitiveness, it has to start there.

Offensive line is a big concern. If Prochaska is out an extended time, it stresses depth.

Nebraska must find ways to protect the quarterback moving forward.

Final thoughts

The nightmare continues for Nebraska. Where does it stop?

Sooners coach Brent Venables eased up over the final 30 minutes. Their offense was dialed in. They could have named the score.

That’s not indicative of the Nebraska-Oklahoma series. Yes, there’s been lopsided affairs. But Saturday was different. The talent gap was glaring.

Nebraska even struck first. Trey Palmer found the end zone for the 1st time. The crowd was jacked.

That’s when reality set in. The guys in white took over. Talent overcame enthusiasm.

That’s the reality these days for Nebraska fans. There’s a big hill to climb.

Don’t judge Joseph and his staff on one game. Especially against OU.

But they have their hands full.