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Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2000

Sooners, Huskers will finally play important game

Surprise may be in store for K-State

October 26, 2000

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Nebraska-Oklahoma, Oklahoma-Nebraska.

Either way, college football has one of its best rivalries back and it arrives at just the right time the Cornhuskers (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) are No. 1, the Sooners (6-0, 3-0) are No. 3, and both teams are talking national championship.

Just like they used to.

Saturday's game will be the 17th time both teams have been ranked in the Top 10, but the first since 1988. It also marks the 13th time either Nebraska or Oklahoma entered the game ranked No. 1.

Oklahoma and Nebraska last played in 1997, with the Huskers winning 69-7 in Lincoln, Neb. Before the Big 12 Conference came along in 1996, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game determined the Big Eight champion 27 times in a 29-year span, with the winner often getting a chance to win a national title.

In recent years, the Huskers have dominated the series, outscoring the Sooners 265-61 in winning the last seven games. Last time they visited Norman, Okla., the Huskers won 73-21 in '96.

But the Sooners are back under second-year coach Bob Stoops. Just ask No. 10 Kansas State, a 41-31 loser to Oklahoma two weeks ago in Manhattan.

"There's definitely a lot of excitement surrounding the game, a lot of excitement surrounding the whole program and the direction it's taken," says OU quarterback Josh Heupel, who has thrown for 1,894 yards and 11 touchdowns to become one of the top Heisman Trophy contenders. "And hopefully, we'll get it back to the level it's been at and needs to be at, which is a championship level."

Under Barry Switzer, Oklahoma won three of its six AP national titles, but the last one was back in 1985. Nebraska has four AP national titles, and also gained a share of the '97 national crown with Michigan by finishing No. 1 in the coaches poll.

Defense may wind up deciding this one. Both are formidable Nebraska allows 14.9 points per game, Oklahoma 16 but will be hard-pressed to stop the highest scoring offenses in the nation. The teams are ranked 1-2 in scoring offense Oklahoma at 46.7 points per game, Nebraska at 46.3.

The Huskers, led by a Heisman contender of their own in Eric Crouch, have outscored their last two opponents Texas Tech and Baylor 115-3.

"Right now, we feel like we're almost indestructible," Huskers wide receiver Matt Davison said. "It's not a cockiness, it's just a confidence that we've gathered. It doesn't mean that we can't be beat."

Nebraska leads the nation in rushing offense at 379.7 yards per game, and ranks second overall at 499.3. Oklahoma is fourth in passing offense at 327.3 yards per game and fifth overall at 472.8.

No. 1 Nebraska (minus 3) at No. 3 Oklahoma

Huskers have won last seven matchups, including 73-21 rout in Norman in '96. ... OKLAHOMA, 35-31.

Pittsburgh (plus 16) at No. 2 Virginia Tech

Hokies lead nation in interceptions; Panthers love to throw. ... VIRGINIA TECH, 38-24.

Louisiana Tech (plus 411/2) at No. 4 Miami

Hurricanes prep for next week's showdown against Virginia Tech. ... MIAMI, 52-17.

Georgia Tech (plus 12) at No. 5 Clemson

QB Dantzler returns as Tigers go for 9-0 heading to Bowden Bowl II on Nov. 11. ... CLEMSON, 35-28.

No. 6 Florida State (minus 19) at No. 21 North Carolina State

FSU's old man Weinke vs. NC State's young man Rivers. ... FLORIDA STATE, 45-24.

No. 7 Oregon (minus 51/2) at Arizona State

Ducks can smell the Roses. ... OREGON, 27-20.

No. 8 Florida (no line) vs. No. 13 Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.)

Passes galore at World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. ... FLORIDA, 35-21.

No. 9 Washington (minus 7) at Stanford

Huskies power offense too much for improving Cardinal. ... WASHINGTON, 31-21.

No. 10 Kansas State (minus 51/2) at Texas A&M

Aggies set for an ambush. ... TEXAS A&M, 34-31.

Rice (plus 231/2) at No. 11 TCU

Horned Frogs keep winning and hoping for help to move up in polls. ... TCU, 42-21.

No. 12 Ohio State (plus 1) at No. 16 Purdue

Buckeyes QB Bellisari vs. Boilers' Brees? We'll take Brees. ... PURDUE, 35-28.

No. 14 Southern Mississippi (minus 161/2) at Houston

Cougars have C-USA's top offense; Eagles have top defense. ... SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI, 34-20.

Tennessee (pick 'em) at No. 17 South Carolina

The Year of the Gamecock rolls on so long, goal posts! ... SOUTH CAROLINA, 27-24.

Washington State (plus 13) at No. 18 Oregon State

Cougars' QB Gesser can make life difficult for high-flying Beavers. ... OREGON STATE, 38-31.

Air Force (plus 131/2) at No. 19 Notre Dame

Irish still in running for a BCS game, but must win out. ... NOTRE DAME, 35-17.

Middle Tennessee State (plus 271/2) at No. 20 Mississippi State

Bulldogs need to rebound after OT loss at LSU. ... MISSISSIPPI STATE, 38-14.

Baylor (plus 41) at No. 22 Texas

'Horns capable of handing Bears a fourth straight shutout. ... TEXAS, 52-7.

No. 23 Northwestern (plus 5) at Minnesota

Gophers try to rebound after scoring 43 points and losing last week. ... MINNESOTA, 34-27.

UCLA (plus 51/2) at No. 24 Arizona

Oh, how the Bruins have fallen after wins over Alabama and Michigan. ... ARIZONA, 28-21.

Arkansas (plus 91/2) at No. 25 Auburn

Beware of improving Razorbacks. ... ARKANSAS, 31-30.

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