Huskers Show No Mercy // Nebraska Finishes Classic Rivalry With OU's Worst Loss in History
BY Dan O'Kane
Nov 2, 1997
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Oklahoma-Nebraska series has been on
life-support for years. Saturday, the plug was mercifully pulled.
The two teams will not meet again until 2000.
""Hopefully, we'll give them a little bit better game next time
we play,'' said OU fullback Seth Littrell.
The Muskogee freshman ran for 88 yards. It stands as the most by
a back against Nebraska this season.
He may have been the only bright spot in what was otherwise a
rude way to see one of college football's yearly classic rivalries
The top-ranked Huskers turned four Oklahoma turnovers into 20
first-half points. It set the stage for a 69-7 Nebraska victory
before the 219th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium.
The 62-point loss is the worst defeat in the 103-year history of
Nebraska defeated the Sooners for the seventh consecutive time.
The last three have been by a combined score of 179-28.
The game was as lopsided as the final score indicates.
The Sooners were held to a season-low 154 yards total offense
while yielding a season-high 552 yards.
It was a far cry from the traditional meetings when conference
championships hung in the balance. It was only 10 years ago that
both schools were college football superpowers, staging a No. 1 vs.
No. 2 "Game of the Century II" that OU won 17-7.
Since that game, Nebraska has won nine of 10 meetings.
""It's kind of sad not to play them for a couple of years because
of the history, but life goes on,'' said Nebraska head coach Tom
Osborne, who won his 250th game in his 25th season as head coach.
Nebraska won its 36th consecutive conference game and 41st
straight at home. The Huskers are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12
Conference. As the lone unbeaten team in the league, they appear to
be headed to the conference championship game Dec. 6 in San Antonio.
Oklahoma, 3-6 and 1-4, needs to win out to avoid its second
consecutive losing season. That's something that hasn't happened
""I'd like for this program to be back on its feet by the next
time we meet, but I haven't given it much thought,'' said OU coach
John Blake. ""Right now, I've got a lot of other things to think
It would have taken a monumental effort for the Sooners to knock
off the Huskers. The odds became longer with the news earlier in
the week that running backs De'Mond Parker, Jermaine Fazande and
Michael Rose were not going to play. Going into the game, the trio
had accounted for 1,629 of OU's 2,051 yards rushing.
But any wild thoughts of ending Nebraska's winning streaks ended
as the turnovers mounted.
OU's first offensive series illustrated what went wrong.
Linebacker Corey L. Ivy recovered an Ahman Green fumble at the
Nebraska 40. The Sooners were unable to take advantage when Justin
Fuente overthrew an open Stephen Alexander at the Husker 20-yard
line. The next play, Fuente was blistered by NU All-America end
Grant Wistrom, who separated the OU quarterback from the ball.
Octavious McFarland returned the fumble to the OU 8.
The Sooners prevented the touchdown, but a 24-yard field goal by
Kris Brown put OU in a hole it never escaped.
Bobby Newcombe's 57-yard punt return set up the first of Joel
Makovicka's three touchdowns. He rushed for 101 yards on 10 carries
with touchdown runs of 5, 37 and 32 yards. Green led the Huskers in
rushing with 105 yards on 18 carries.
The Huskers scored on their next three possessions. Each followed
Brandon Daniels, who switched from safety to quarterback last
week against Kansas State, fumbled three times. Two were recovered
by Nebraska. The Huskers turned them into a Brown 42-yard field
goal and a Corell Buckhalter 15-yard touchdown.
NU made it 34-0 after Wistrom caused his third fumble. He sacked
OU's third quarterback, Eric Moore, caused a fumble and recovered
it. That led to Newcombe scoring on the next play, a 40-yard
touchdown reception from Scott Frost.
Overall, the Huskers' first five scoring drives were 1, 27, minus
1, 28 and 54 yards en route to taking a 34-0 halftime lead.
""You can't cause yourself to make mistakes and turnovers and
expect to have a chance,'' Blake said. ""We hurt ourselves. You
turn the ball over that many times in the area where we turned it
over, then you're not giving yourself a chance. But Nebraska hurt
us, too, by being able to capitalize on our mistakes and score
It was a dominating game by Wistrom, who has to be considered
among the candidates for Big 12 Player of the Year.
The Lombardi Award semifinalist had his best game of the year,
totaling 10 tackles (nine solo) along with four tackles for 23
yards in losses and two sacks for minus 10 yards.