Archive for Monday, October 29, 2001

Now is time for Huskers to celebrate

But Oklahoma may gain chance at redemption in conference championship game

October 29, 2001


Nebraska's victory over Oklahoma keeps the Cornhuskers' national championship hopes alive, but doesn't necessarily wipe out Oklahoma's chances of repeating.

If both win their remaining regular-season games, then Nebraska and Oklahoma will meet again on Dec. 1 in the Big 12 championship game at Texas Stadium. In that case, the Huskers would have to win again in order to play for the biggest prize.

But that's later on. Now is a time for Nebraska to celebrate.

"As far as wins go, I've had a lot of them, but this one pretty much ranks up toward the top," quarterback Eric Crouch said after Saturday's 20-10 victory in Lincoln, Neb., in a game that lived up to the billing.

The loss was the first for Oklahoma in 20 games, dating to the 1999 Independence Bowl. But given what else happened Saturday, it may not have knocked them out of the picture for the national title. Oklahoma entered the game ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll and No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series ratings. Nebraska was No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 2 in the BCS.

Nebraska moved to No. 2 in the AP poll Sunday and Oklahoma dropped to No. 3. Losses Saturday by UCLA and Virginia Tech, which were ranked fourth and fifth in the BCS, could mean the Sooners won't tumble too far in the new BCS ratings this week.

So running the table the rest of the way could keep them in the national championship picture.

"We've got a lot to play for, look forward to," coach Bob Stoops said. "We'll live to fight another day."

Nebraska (9-0) sealed its victory with a trick play in the fourth quarter. Crouch handed off to Thunder Collins, who then pitched the ball to receiver Mike Stuntz running the other way. Stuntz stopped and threw to Crouch, who was wide open behind the defense for a 63-yard touchdown.

Oklahoma (7-1) had tried a similar play earlier. Quarterback Nate Hybl was open, but lost his footing and fell down as he tried to catch the slightly underthrown pass.

The victory leaves Nebraska 5-0 in conference play, with games remaining against Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado. Colorado, at 4-1 in the league, would appear to be the only North Division team with a chance to derail the Cornhuskers.

Oklahoma is 4-1 in the conference, but owns the tiebreaker over Texas, which also is 4-1. Texas A&M; gave the South Division three 4-1 teams by beating Iowa State on Saturday. The Aggies get their crack at Oklahoma on Nov. 10 in Norman, then close out the season Nov. 23 against Texas.

One thing that is clear is that the Texas offense continues to play well. The Longhorns were held to three points in a loss to Oklahoma in early October, but otherwise have scored at least 35 points in every game.

At Missouri, Chris Simms threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth in a 35-16 victory. A Big 12 team on a nice roll is Texas Tech. The Red Raiders rolled over Baylor 63-19, one week after going to Nebraska and scaring the Cornhuskers before losing 41-31. A week before that, they beat Kansas State.

Ricky Williams had 153 yards and four touchdowns, and Cliff Kingsbury threw for 245 yards and two TDs. The Red Raiders had 518 total yards and scored their most points in a Big 12 game.

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