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Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
Johnny Rodgers returns punt for a touchdown.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Five classic Oklahoma/Nebraska games
No. 1 Nebraska @ No. 2 Oklahoma
The Thanksgiving Day showdown between unbeaten, top-ranked Nebraska and unbeaten, second-ranked Oklahoma is no turkey. This is one "Game of the Century" that lives up to the hype.
Johnny Rodgers starts the fireworks with a scintillating 72-yard punt return to give Nebraska an early 7-0 lead. Twice, the Cornhuskers lead by 11 points, 14-3 in the second quarter and 28-17 in the third.
But each time, the Sooners come back against the nation's No. 1 defense. A 16-yard touchdown pass from Jack Mildren to Jon Harrison midway in the fourth quarter gives them a 31-28 lead. The Cornhuskers, though, are confident they can score again. "We wanted to use up as much of the clock as possible," quarterback Jerry Tagge says. "We didn't want them to have time to score again."
They use 5½ minutes to go 74 yards and the fourth short touchdown run of the game by Jeff Kinney (174 yards on 30 carries) -- this one from two yards -- enables Nebraska to regain the lead with 98 seconds left. When the defense, led by middle guard Rich Glover (22 tackles), stops Oklahoma's final possession, the Cornhuskers are Big Eight champions with their 35-31 victory. It is the 21st consecutive win and 30th game without a loss for coach Bob Devaney's juggernaut.
No. 1 Oklahoma @ No. 4 Nebraska
Finally! After five consecutive losses to Barry Switzer's Sooners, Tom Osborne claimed his first win over Oklahoma. No. 4 Nebraska used a stingy defense and took advantage of the generous Sooners to post a 17-14 upset over No. 1 Oklahoma.
Nebraska parlayed two Oklahoma fumbles into touchdowns. After the Sooners had jumped to a 7-0 lead on Billy Sims 44-yard touchdown run, Thomas Lott's errant pitch was recovered by Nebraska. The Huskers responded with a nine play drive, capped off by Rick Burns' five-yard touchdown run.
Billy Todd's 34-yard field goal with 11:51 to play gave Nebraska the lead and marked the first time they had scored on the Sooners in the fourth quarter since 1971.
The Cornhuskers recovered six of Oklahoma's 9 fumbles, including one by 1978 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims on the Nebraska three-yard line with 3:27 left that sealed the game for the Huskers. "I just fumbled. What can I say?" said Sims. The joy in Lincoln, however, would not last long.
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Nebraska
Nebraska was upset by Missouri the week after their 17-14 win over Oklahoma leaving the teams tied for the Big 8 title. In an amazing turn of events, the Orange Bowl invited the teams to face off in a rematch. The Nebraska team, coaching staff and fans, having beaten Oklahoma for the first time since the 1971 Game of the Century, were upset at being paired against their archenemy in a rare bowl rematch.
Billy Sims atoned for his fumbles in the earlier game by rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma cruised to a 31-24 win.
Nebraska jumped out to a 7-0 lead on 21-yard pass from quarterback Tom Sorley to split end Tim Smith. Oklahoma was contained on its first possession, but two of the next three times they had the ball, the Sooners drove for touchdowns. Sims scored on runs of two and 11 yards to put the Sooners on top to stay.
Quarterback Thomas Lott scored two third quarter touchdowns to propel Oklahoma to an insurmountable 31-10 lead. The Sooners had exacted their revenge without having to wait a year.
No. 9 Oklahoma @ No. 4 Nebraska
Julius Ceasar Watts, better known as J.C., directed the No. 9 Sooners to a 21-17 upset of No. 4 Nebraska.
With just under a minute left, Buster Rhymes vaulted into the end zone from the one to give Oklahoma a 21-17 lead. "I told myself, 'There isn't any need in trying to trick somebody. Let's just dive over.' I just dove. I was going to get in there regardless," Rhymes said. Five plays earlier, Rhymes had taken a pitch from Watts for 43 yards to the 16 yard line.
Nebraska appeared to have the game in hand when quarterback Jeff Quinn scored on a one-yard run with 3:16 left to give Nebraska a 17-14 lead. The Nebraska fans showered the field with oranges in anticipation of the win and Orange Bowl berth.
Barry Switzer, referring to other wins over Nebraska said: "This might be the best one yet."
No. 2 Oklahoma @ No. 1 Nebraska
Billed as "Game of the Century II," No. 1 Nebraska hosted No. 2 Oklahoma. Unlike the '71 game, this one was a one-sided affair.
The Cornhuskers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on Keith Jones' 25-yard run. But the Sooners defense dominated the rest of the game allowing Nebraska to cross midfield only three times during the whole contest.
Led by Dante Jones and Ricky Dixon, OU's defense held Nebraska to 235 total yards, 289 under its nation-leading average. Dixon set up the Sooners first score with an interception return to the Nebraska 13-yard line. Anthony Stafford tied the game with an 11-yard TD run.
OU's freshman quarterback Charles Thompson was one of three Sooners to break the 100 yard total on the day. His pitch-out on an option sprung Patrick Collins on a 65-yard touchdown scamper late in the third quarter. R.D. Lasher tacked on a 27-yard field goal late in the fourth to seal Oklahoma's 17-7 win. If not for four Sooner fumbles, it would have been a lot worse.
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