11-0 Nebraska clears Sooners, slate for national title game

November 27, 1993|By Dob Dutton | Dob Dutton,Kansas City Star

LINCOLN, NEB — LINCOLN, Neb. -- On to Miami, where it's warm.

Nebraska completed an unbeaten regular season yesterday with 21-7 victory over Oklahoma that should keep the Cornhuskers in position to play for No. 1 on New Year's night in the Orange Bowl.

The opponent remains uncertain.

"Not many have been in the position that we are," Nebraska I-back Calvin Jones said. "We need to make the most of it."

Nebraska (11-0) took a while to warm up in conditions that reached minus-7 degrees on the wind-chill index. Oklahoma scored on its first drive and threatened to expand its 7-0 advantage.

"In the first half, I didn't know if we were in it," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "About the middle of the second quarter, I wouldn't have given you a plug nickel for our chances."

But the Cornhuskers dodged trouble when Oklahoma's Jerald Moore fumbled after a 47-yard run to the Nebraska 14. Moments later, Oklahoma quarterback Cale Gundy threw an interception that led to Nebraska's first touchdown and a 7-7 tie at halftime.

"In the first half, we controlled both sides of the ball," Oklahoma coach Gary Gibbs said. "In the second half, their defensive front took charge."

The Cornhuskers slowly took control of a grinding field-position battle in the third period, then blitzed the Sooners with two touchdowns within 13 seconds at the outset of the final quarter.

Nebraska took possession at the Oklahoma 38 late in the third quarter and pushed its way to the 11 in eight plays. Facing third and nine, Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier passed to wingback Abdul Muhammad over the middle. Muhammad spun away from cornerback Darrius Johnson at the 3 and lunged into the end zone for a 14-7 lead.

"I was the third read," Muhammad said. "I just went through the motions of the play. Then I came open, and Tommie saw me."

Johnson's misfortunes mounted a moment later on the kickoff, when he lost control of the ball on the return. David Seizys recovered for the Cornhuskers at the Oklahoma 20.

Jones bolted 20 yards for a touchdown on the next play, completing the scoring with 13:07 left.

The win was hardly impressive. Nebraska had just 10 first downsand 179 yards, including just 122 from a rushing attack that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Was it enough to guarantee the Cornhuskers a shot at the national title? The Sooners, at least, think so.

"You have to give credit to people who step up and make big plays," Gibbs said. "They were No. 1 coming in [in the coaches poll]. I don't see any reason why they won't stay there."

Oklahoma scored first, driving 74 yards on the game's first possession. Gundy keyed the 13-play march with a 26-yard scramble.

James Allen carried 19 yards to the Nebraska 7. Four plays later, fullback Dwayne Chandler scored from the 1. Nebraska tied the score at 7 late in the half after rover Toby Wright snatched a Gundy pass from Sooners tight end Rickey Brady and returned it 25 yards to Oklahoma's 15. scored from 2 yards.

THE BOWL PICTURE

What now? Nebraska and West Virginia finished undefeated seasons yesterday, meaning today's matchup between Florida State and Florida should clear up who will be playing for the national championship on Jan. 1. The possibilities:

If the Seminoles win, they will most likely meet undefeated Nebraska for the title in the Orange Bowl.

If the Gators win, the Cornhuskers will most likely meet undefeated West Virginia for the title in the Orange Bowl.

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