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OKLAHOMA 17, NEBRASKA 7

By
RICK GOSSELIN, UPI Sports Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Orange Bowl representative in the Nebraska press box Saturday was all smiles prior to the annual Big Eight showdown Saturday between the No. 1 Cornhuskers and No. 6 Oklahoma.

For the second consecutive year, the Orange Bowl was calling all the postseason shots. Last year it had the national championship game between No. 1 Nebraska and the University of Miami. This time around, the Orange Bowl was looking at No. 1 Nebraska and unbeaten and No. 2-rated South Carolina.

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But things began falling apart for the Orange Bowl midway through the second quarter of the Nebraska game when it was announced that Navy had upset South Carolina, 38-21.

And it got worse as the day wore on for the Orange Bowl: Nebraska fell apart in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma, allowing the sixth-rated Sooners to score 10 points en route to a 17-7 victory over the Cornhuskers.

The Orange Bowl lost thenation's No. 1 team and Nebraska lost the Orange Bowl.

The upset left Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all tied for first-place in the Big Eight with one loss. The Orange Bowl bid will be determined Nov. 24 when No. 4 Oklahoma State visits Oklahoma to close out the regular season. Nebraska finished its regular season with a 9-2 record.

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The winner of the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game will probably get the Orange Bowl bid because that school will be ranked higher than Nebraska.

'At least this year we've got a choice (of bowls),' said Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne, whose Cornhuskers automatically qualified for the Orange Bowl as the Big Eight champion the last three years. 'We haven't had a choice for a long time. I guess that's the one bright spot.'

Tim Lashar kicked a 32-yard field goal in the opening minute of the fourth quarter and the Sooners staged a brilliant goal-line stand with five minutes left to deny the Cornhuskers their fourth consecutive outright Big Eight title.

Oklahoma snapped a Big Eight-record string of 27 consecutive conference victories by Nebraska dating back to November 1980 when the Sooners also prevailed in Lincoln, 21-17. It also snapped a 21-game home winning streak dating back to 1981 and an overall six-game winning streak by the Cornhuskers this season.

With the score tied 7-7 late in the third quarter, Oklahoma quarterback Danny Bradley threw a 31-yard pass to Buster Rhymes to the Nebraska 41. Bradley raced around right end for 26 more yards two plays later to move the Sooners to the Nebraska 10.

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Lashar then gave Oklahoma the lead with his field goal 11 seconds into the fourth quarter, enabling the Sooners to improve their overall record to 8-1-1.

Midway through the quarter, the Cornhuskers drove 88 yards to the Oklahoma 1 thanks in large part to the passing of reserve quarterback Craig Sundberg, who completed tosses of 18 yards to Scott Kimball and 42 yards to Doug DuBose.

But Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth stacked up fullback Scott Porter on third-and-goal from the 1 and cornerback Brian Hall then made a brilliant open field tackle of Jeff Smith on fourth down for no gain, turning the ball over to the Sooners with 5:38 remaining.

Oklahoma could not move out of its own end but Smith, the nation's leading punt returner, fumbled away the ensuing punt at midfield with 3:43 remaining.

The Sooners went into their ball-control offense to get into the final minute with the lead intact before Bradley stunned the Cornhuskers with a 29-yard sweep of right end for an insurance touchdown with 56 seconds left.

'I know what a great emotional game this was and what it meant to us,' Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said. 'But we've got some business at home. We've got to go get ready (for Oklahoma State) ... and I believe our team will.'

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Lashar then gave Oklahoma the lead with his field goal 11 seconds into the fourth quarter, enabling the Sooners to improve their overall record to 8-1-1.

Midway through the quarter, the Cornhuskers drove 88 yards to the Oklahoma 1 thanks in large part to the passing of reserve quarterback Craig Sundberg, who completed tosses of 18 yards to Scott Kimball and 42 yards to Doug DuBose.

But Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth stacked up fullback Scott Porter on third-and-goal from the 1 and cornerback Brian Hall then made a brilliant open field tackle of Jeff Smith on fourth down for no gain, turning the ball over to the Sooners with 5:38 remaining.

Oklahoma could not move out of its own end but Smith, the nation's leading punt returner, fumbled away the ensuing punt at midfield with 3:43 remaining.

The Sooners went into their ball-control offense to get into the final minute with the lead intact before Bradley stunned the Cornhuskers with a 29-yard sweep of right end for an insurance touchdown with 56 seconds left.

'I know what a great emotional game this was and what it meant to us,' Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said. 'But we've got some business at home. We've got to go get ready (for Oklahoma State)... and I believe our team will.'

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The Sooners went into their ball-control offense to get into the final minute with the lead intact before Bradley stunned the Cornhuskers with a 29-yard sweep of right end for an insurance touchdown with 56 seconds left.

Junior quarterback Travis Turner fumbled the snap from center on Nebraska's second possession of the game and it was recovered by Oklahoma's Paul Migliazzo at the Cornhusker 26.

The Sooners kept the ball on the ground for seven straight plays to set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Bradley for a 7-0 lead.

After Turner threw an interception on Nebraska's opening possession of the second quarter, coach Tom Osborne replaced him at quarterback with Sundberg. He promptly marched the Cornhuskers 84 yards -- the longest touchdown drive of the season allowed by the Sooners -- for the tying score on a 1-yard run by Smith.

Sundberg hit Shane Swanson with a 14-yard pass at the start of the drive and also completed a 38-yard pass to Robb Schnitzler that moved Nebraska to the Oklahoma 2. Smith scored two plays later to forge a 7-7 halftime tie.

Nebraska place-kicker Dale Klein had two chances to give the Cornhuskers the lead, but was short with a 49-yard field goal try in the final minute of the first half and then hit the left upright with a 23-yard try five minutes into the third period.

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Osborne then changed kickers, going with Scott Livingston when Nebraska lined for a 46-yard field goal with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter. But Livingston was wide left with his attempt.

One play after Livingston's miss, Bradley hit Buster Rhymes with the 31-yard pass to start the Sooners off on the 58-yard drive that would eventually result in Lashar's wimning field goal.

It was the second time Nebraska has been beaten when it was rated No. 1 this season, having also fallen to Syracuse 17-9 back in September. The Cornhuskers regained the No. 1 spot last week when Washington was knocked off by Southern Cal. Auburn, Miami and Texas have also been ranked No. 1 this season.

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