LINCOLN — Nebraska may not be the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, the smartest or the prettiest team in college football.
But after 11 regular-season games, the Huskers’ goal — to be voted the best — is still alive.
NU kept its perfect season going Friday afternoon by hurdling obstacle after obstacle in a 21-7 win over Oklahoma before a goalpost-destroying crowd of 75,674 at Memorial Stadium.
“It looks like with today’s performance,” Husker Coach Tom Osborne said,”that we should have a chance to play for the whole ball of wax. And at this stage, that’s all you can ask for.”
Nebraska (11-0 overall, 7-0 in the Big Eight) entered the game first in the bowl coalition poll, first in the USA Today-CNN coaches’ poll and second in the Associated Press poll of sportswriters and broadcasters.
But early on, it looked like the Huskers might have to beg for a chance to play for the national championship in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1.
“I wouldn’t have given you a plugged nickel about the middle of the second quarter for our chances to win the game,” Osborne said. “It looked like we were being dominated on both sides of the ball.”
Oklahoma stormed 74 yards with the opening kickoff to score. On that drive, Nebraska All-America outside linebacker Trev Alberts suffered a potential season-ending dislocated elbow.
After 17 minutes, the NU offense had been outgained 167 yards to 13. And Husker quarterback Tommie Frazier already had thrown an interception and been thrown for losses twice.
But roverback Toby Wright’s 25-yard interception return set up Frazier’s 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7 late in the first half.
That was one of four takeaways the Huskers had against a Sooner team that had given up the ball only 12 times previously.
Then the Blackshirts generated another spark that led to a five-minute wildfire that cooked the No. 15 and 16 Sooners’ upset hopes.
With 3:55 left in the third quarter, Byron Bennett’s 30-yard punt into the wind buried OU at its 15-yard line.
An illegal procedure penalty pushed the Sooners back to the 10.
On first and 15, NU middle linebacker Mike Anderson blitzed up the gut so fast that he nearly nailed OU quarterback Cale Gundy before the snap. The 3-yard loss made it second and 18 at the 7.
Anderson then smashed fullback Terry Collier for no gain to set up third and 18.
Anderson and tackle Kevin Ramaekers then stopped Collier after 3 yards, forcing OU to punt. Split end Corey Dixon returned the 39-yard kick 11 yards to the OU 38.
Nine plays later, Frazier hit wingback Abdul Muhammad with an 11-yard touchdown pass on third down for a 14-7 lead with 13:20 left.
On the ensuing kickoff, roverback Mike Minter jostled OU return man Darrius Johnson just enough to cause a fumble that wingback David Seizys recovered at the OU 20.
On the next play, I-back Calvin Jones raced to the end zone for a 21-7 lead that the Huskers preserved to the end.
Oklahoma’s offense warmed up quickly, starting the game with a 13-play, 74-yard touchdown drive.
Gundy’s 26-yard scramble up the middle pushed the Sooners into NU territory at the 37.
Five plays later, Oklahoma had a big gain and Nebraska a huge loss.
As OU tailback James Allen ran 19 yards on a reverse to the 7, NU’s Alberts was on the ground in the backfield with a dislocated elbow. The injury sidelined the Butkus Award finalist for the day.
Oklahoma needed four plays to score from the 7. On third and goal at the 1, Gundy was stopped on a sneak.
But fullback Dwayne Chandler popped up the middle to score on fourth down for a 7-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first quarter.
Nebraska stopped Oklahoma on its next two possessions, but the Huskers didn’t get a first down of their own until the second-to-last play of the first quarter. And that drive ended with a punt.
Oklahoma burst into scoring position again early in the second quarter as tailback Jerald Moore sprinted 47 yards up the middle. But at the end of the run, NU cornerback Tyrone Williams stripped the ball away and outside linebacker Donta Jones picked it up and returned it 7 yards to the NU 21.
Frazier hit tight end Trumane Bell for 26 yards to the OU 48 — NU’s first gain of more than 5 yards — with 11 minutes left in the second quarter.
But six plays later, Frazier scrambled right and threw an interception almost directly to cornerback Darrius Johnson at the OU 26.
Nebraska swiped the ball back three plays later as Wright intercepted Gundy and returned the ball 25 yards to the OU 15.
On first down, Jones gained just a yard, but a personal foul penalty moved the ball to the Sooner 7. Three plays later, Frazier rolled right and scored from the 2 to tie the game 7-7 with 5:38 left in the half.
Nebraska got a break on the ensuing kickoff as outside linebacker Jerad Higman caused OU’s Collier to fumble. Minter recovered at the Sooner 36.
But Oklahoma stopped the threat in four plays. After a 2-yard run, an incomplete pass and a 4-yard pass, Nebraska tried an option play to the short side of the field on fourth and four at the OU 30.
Frazier was buried after a 2-yard gain, prompting a celebration on the Sooner bench.
OU made one more surge into NU territory, but back-to-back 6-yard sacks by NU outside linebacker Dwayne Harris forced the Sooners to punt.
|Yards per carry||4.8||2.9|
Nebraska is 38-45 all-time against Oklahoma.
|North Texas||Sept. 4|
|Texas Tech||Sept. 11|
|Colorado State||Sept. 25|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 7|
|Kansas State||Oct. 16|
|Iowa State||Nov. 13|
|Florida State||Jan. 1|
Nebraska has played 15 games on Nov. 26. See them all »
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