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Oklahoma 21, Nebraska 17

By RICK GOSSELIN, UPI Sports Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Oklahoma claims there was no jinx. Nebraska claims there is no jinx. But each year, the scoreboard claims otherwise.

The Sooners, an eight-point underdog playing on the road against the nation's No. 3-ranked team, used a 1-yard touchdown run by freshman Buster Rhymes with 56 seconds left Saturday to post a 21-17 victory over Nebraska.

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It was the eighth time Barry Switzer has guided Oklahoma past Nebraska in nine career games, and it ensured the Sooners at least a share of their eighth straight Big Eight championship.

'I don't believe there is a jinx over Nebraska,' said Switzer. 'We just play them with good players. This was just the usual OU-NU game. There were so many big plays.

'This might be the best one yet. That was kind of exciting, wasn't it? Did y'all enjoy it? I don't like close games -- I'd like a rout -- but you don't get those when you play Nebraska.'

Oklahoma can win the title outright next Saturday against Oklahoma State in its regular-season finale and thus claim a fourth straight trip to the Orange Bowl.

The ninth-ranked Sooners will head into that game with records of 8-2 overall and 6-0 in the Big Eight. Nebraska, its hopes for a second national championship now doused, appears Sun Bowl-bound with final 9-2 overall and 6-2 conference marks.

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'You don't have jinxes in sports contests,' said Nebraska quarterback Jeff Quinn. 'It's just two teams. If you're superstitious, you might believe it. But I don't believe in jinxes -- we just didn't play well.'

'Oklahoma played well,' said Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne. 'They deserved to win. Oklahoma has great players who play well when they have to.'

Osborne is 1-9 lifetime against Oklahoma but 73-11-2 against everyone else the Cornhuskers have played during his eight years as coach.

Rhymes' touchdown capped an 80-yard drive to give Switzer his eighth victory in nine games against archrival Nebraska. The score also came 2:20 after Nebraska quarterback Jeff Quinn snuck in from the 1-yard line to put the Huskers in front 17-14.

Rhymes set up his score with a 43-yard run to the Nebraska 14. Quarterback J.C. Watts then completed only his second pass of the game, a 13-yarder to Bobby Grayson to the Nebraska 1, where Rhymes went in two plays later to snap a six-game Cornhuskers winning streak.

Nebraska, trailing 14-10 at intermission, spent the entire second half at the Oklahoma doorstep. The Huskers drove to the Oklahoma 35 in the third quarter only to have Jarvis Redwine thrown for a loss on a fourth-and-three situation. Nebraksa moved to the Oklahoma seven at the start of the fourth quarter only to have Redwine stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-two.

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The Cornhuskers then drove to the Oklahoma 13 on their next possession only to have Andra Franklin fumble the ball away to the Oklahoma one where safety Darrell Songy recovered. But Oklahoma could gain only two yards in three plays and a Michael Kelling punt of only 14 yards put Nebraska in position for its go-ahead touchdown..

Redwine gained 10 yards on the first play, moving the ball to the seven and an Oklahoma personal foul moved the ball to the two. Quinn then scored two plays later.

Nebraska appeared ready to rout Oklahoma by scoring on its first two possessions, an 89-yard run by Redwine and a 47-yard field goal by Kevin Seibel.

But Oklahoma, an eight-point underdog, finally got its wishbone offense into gear midway through the second quarter with a 68-yard drive, enabling the Sooners to cut the deficit to 10-7 on a 3-yard run by Watts.

The Sooners needed only three plays to cover 55 yards in their next possession to take a 14-10 lead on a 3-yard run by Chet Winters. Watts gained six yards on the first play and the Sooners were awarded 15 more yards when the Oklahoma quarterback was tackled by the facemask.

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Watts and Rhymes then combined for a 31-yard gain, with Watts collecting 14 of the yards around right end before pitching the ball to Rhymes for the final 17 that put the ball on the Nebraska 3. Winters then burst off left tackle for his fourth touchdown of the season.

Redwine gained 152 yards in the game, but only 26 of them over the final three quarters. He had 126 yards on six carries at the end of the first quarter but could gain only 26 more in his final 15 carries.

Franklin added 122 yards on 20 carries for Nebraska but it was not enough to carry the Huksers to their first undisputed Big Eight championship since 1972.

Rhymes finished with 85 yards on 10 carries with fullback Stanley Wilson chipping a team-high 91 yards in 19 carries as Nebraska fell to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big Eight.

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