Husker Rout a Sooner Message
BY Dan O'Kane
Nov 3, 1996
NORMAN -- After each game this year, Oklahoma could point to
mistakes and wonder what might have been.
Turnovers, special team mistakes and pass coverage meltdowns
were featured in losses to Texas Christian, San Diego State, Tulsa,
Kansas and Kansas State.
Despite the losses, it was evident that the Sooners were making progress.
The Sooners committed turnovers, made special team mistakes
and stumbled a few times in pass coverage Saturday. Unlike the
others, this was not a game OU would like to replay.
Fifth-ranked Nebraska (7-1, 5-0 Big 12) manhandled the Sooners
(2-5, 2-3) before a sellout crowd of 75,004 at Memorial Stadium and
a regional television audience. The Huskers' 73-21 victory was OU's
most lopsided loss. The previous low was a 47-0 loss in 1945 to
then Oklahoma A&M.
``This game let us know how far we need to go to be the team
to win the Big 12,'' said OU head coach John Blake.
The answer is far.
And even farther with all-conference tight end Stephen
Alexander separating his shoulder. The early prognosis is that he
is out for OU's three remaining games, including Saturday against
Nebraska's 73 points are the most ever allowed by the Sooners.
The previous high was 59 points by Kansas State in 1969. Three of
the four highest-scoring games by OU opponents have occurred this
year counting San Diego State's 52 and Kansas' 51.
The Huskers, who have won eight of the last nine meetings,
were able to cash in on four interceptions, a short punt, a kickoff
return and then an OU defensive gamble late in the game for the
most decisive outcome in series history.
``We identified a lot of weaknesses (against Nebraska),''
Blake said. ``Sometimes you don't find those things until you play
a team like Nebraska. Our players learned a lot today: How good are
they? What does it take to win a football game? What have the
coaches been saying? They really need to take focus and understand
that to win the Big 12 you've got to do a lot of things. Obviously,
have skills, put forth a lot of effort and be committed. I think
they saw a guideline of how far they really need to go.''
Blake tried to harp on a key play in the second quarter as a
turning point, but in a 52-point loss it's difficult to boil things
down to one play. A questionable call midway through the second
quarter waved off an apparent fumble by tight end Vershan Jackson
at the OU 1-yard line. The side judge reversed the call, saying
Jackson was already down. Television replays indicated that Jackson
had lost the ball.
To that point, Nebraska managed just 35 yards total offense.
The Huskers' first points came via a field goal following a
punt fumble by Jarrail Jackson. Then they took possession in OU
territory after Justin Fuente threw his first of three
interceptions. NU linebacker Jay Foreman picked it off with a
After the controversial reversal by the official, freshman
DeAngelo Evans scored to make it 10-0.
``The fumble was a big turning point in terms of momentum,''
Blake said. ``A team such as Nebraska, any breaks that you create,
you need to take advantage of. Not being able to take advantage of
them will cost your football team, especially a team of our caliber.''
The bottom started to fall after that.
Sophomore quarterback Eric Moore entered the game. The idea
was a quicker quarterback might offset some of the pressure
Nebraska was sending. But the Huskers' vaunted sixth-ranked defense
was ready. When Moore tried a quarterback draw, Nebraska stuffed it.
``They stuffed a lot of things,'' Moore said, referring to the
Huskers' five sacks for minus 23 yards. ``It looked like they were
ready for everything.''
Nebraska made it 17-0 before halftime, capitalizing on a short
punt for a commanding lead despite averaging 2.2 yards per play.
The Sooners modeled their defense after what Arizona State did
in its 19-0 victory over the Huskers, which snapped their 26-game
winning streak. OU used man coverage with their corner and
committed a safety to run support. It worked well in the first half
and for part of the third until things got out of hand.
``It took us awhile to figure out what they were doing and we
had problems communicating that to our offense during the game, so
we waited to make adjustments at halftime,'' Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said.
On OU's first possession of the second half, Moore threw an
interception to freshman cornerback Ralph Brown, who returned it 83
yards for a touchdown.
Besides five turnovers, and two missed field goals, OU fought
a losing battle with field position. Only once in the first half
did OU get the ball past its 20.
``You can't give them the ball on the 20, 30 and 15-yard line
and expect to keep them out of the end zone,'' Blake said.
``They're a good football team. I just wish our defense had had
something to feed off. We didn't have that today.''
Late in the game, with NU's backups on the field, DeMond
Parker sprung loose. He scored three touchdowns in the fourth
quarter and rushed for 151 yards. The touchdowns were the first on
the ground against Nebraska in six games.