We now know that even without Taylor Martinez and Niles Paul, Nebraska wasn't so vulnerable that it could be had by a Colorado team that spent most of the season at the bottom of the Big 12 heap.

That makes the coming week all the more fun. Because, after Saturday's Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game -- one that should determine who the Huskers play in the league title game -- you'll have to ask yourself the same question regarding a much better opponent.

Are the Huskers too short-handed to beat the Cowboys or Sooners?

One thing I do know: Bo Pelini will challenge anybody who thinks so.

"I like our chances. I think we can win any game," NU's third-year coach said when asked if he thinks a performance similar to Friday's 45-17 thumping of the Buffaloes will be good enough to bring home the title. "I have a lot of confidence in these kids."

A year ago, Pelini couldn't have found many, if any, folks who would've given NU a chance of knocking off unbeaten Texas. And that's when we saw his us-against-the-world mentality at its defiant best.

The setup to next week's battle doesn't look nearly as daunting. But for some of the same reasons as 2009, a lot of people will expect the Big 12 to be won by the South Division champion for the seventh straight year.

Let's say Oklahoma State beats the Sooners to win the South outright. That would give us a rematch of the Oct. 23 game in Stillwater that Nebraska won 51-41.

Ah, but in that game, Martinez accounted for 435 of Nebraska's 540 yards. And, like Friday, he might not be healthy enough to play next week.

Paul, the Huskers' leading receiver, definitely will be out with a broken foot. All he did against the Cowboys was burn their secondary for 131 yards on nine receptions and scorch their kickoff coverage team with a 100-yard score.

With Cody Green, who Friday looked cozy in his don't-try-to-be-a-superhero role (he completed 10 of 13 passes for 80 yards, two TDs and no interceptions), Nebraska has to grind its way to score. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has to make a lot of smart calls instead of counting on four or five that will lead to game-changing plays.

In that plan, could the Huskers keep up with an Oklahoma State offense that is No. 1 nationally at 552 yards a game and No. 3 at 45.3 points?

Or what if Oklahoma wins Saturday to forge a three-way tie at the top of the South, leaving the Sooners expecting to emerge Sunday as the South representative based on having the highest BCS ranking?

They're averaging 470.3 yards and 36.6 points.

Against Colorado's 82nd-ranked defense, Nebraska totaled 407 yards -- eight more than the Buffaloes had been allowing.

Oklahoma State and Oklahoma rank Nos. 78 and 62, respectively, in average yards allowed. But the points they've given up -- OSU 26.0 per game and OU 20.4 -- offer a good hint at the level the Huskers defense will have to play.

The good news is that usually bodes well for NU.

Nebraska did give up 17 more points to Oklahoma State than any other foe in regulation this season. But in the second half of that contest, the Huskers made adjustments and limited the Cowboys to 14 points -- and seven of those came with 1:24 left in a game that had long been decided.

You can be sure Pelini would just as soon we gloss over that and talk instead about how the Huskers can't possibly overcome their shortcomings.

Heck, some of us were doing it after watching him come unglued during last week's 9-6 loss at Texas A&M.

"A lot of people tried to tear this team apart. We weren't going to let it happen," Pelini said Friday when asked if he saw his team become more resilient following that loss. "Enough said on that."

Indeed, it had to have been a trying week for Pelini, who was admonished publicly for his behavior at A&M by Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman. The coach handled it like a champion.

The question now: Will his team be one in a week?

"We thought that (they were vulnerable)," Colorado linebacker B.J. Beatty said. "They did a good job compensating."

Reach Curt McKeever at cmckeever@journalstar.com or 402-473-7441.

Bo discusses Colorado win