Rally in rain sends Huskers to Orange Bowl
Freshman I-back Calvin Jones’ 15-yard touchdown run with 2:57 left in the game capped Nebraska’s rally from a 14-0 first-half deficit and gave the 11th-rated (AP) Cornhuskers a 19-14 win over No. 19 Oklahoma.
It gave Nebraska a share of the Big Eight title with Colorado at 6-0-1 and sent the Cornhuskers to the Federal Express Orange Bowl because of a higher national ranking and better overall record than the Buffaloes. And it sent a large portion of the 76,386 rain-soaked, delirious fans onto the field toward the goal posts.
Jones’ run capped one of the most dramatic drives in years in Memorial Stadium. The Huskers had crawled back within 14-13 on Byron Bennett’s 33-yard field goal with 12:20 left, then forced a Sooner punt and got the ball back at the NU 20 with 7:08 to play.
The Huskers drove the 80 yards in 10 plays, with Jones carrying nine times for 78 yards, including the biggest play of the game – a 4-yard gain on fourth-and-1 at the OU 19 with 3:08 left. He scored on the next play.
“The linemen didn’t give me any opportunity but to get the first down,” Jones said. “They blocked a hole you could have driven a garbage truck through.”
Guilty of just one turnover in the previous four games, the Huskers developed fumbleitis in the 32-degree, rain- and wind-swept day, turning the ball over three times in the first 12 minutes to spot the Sooners the lead.
OU took advantage of a bobbled opening kickoff and a short punt to drive 33 yards for its first TD, then, after Husker quarterback Keithen McCant threw his first interception in five games, the Sooners drove 31 yards for their second score.
But Nebraska dominated after that, holding the Sooners to 93 total-offense yards and six first downs the rest of the way, while the Huskers picked up 356 yards and 19 first downs in the last 45 minutes.
A Bennett field goal cut it to 14-3 at halftime, then Nebraska drove 70 yards to score after taking the second-half kickoff, McCant getting the TD from 5 yards out to make the score 14-10. On the Huskers’ next possession, they drove to the Sooner 1, but I-back Derek Brown was thrown for a loss on fourth down. NU was not to be denied again, though, as the Huskers got Bennett’s second field goal and Jones’ winning TD on their next two possessions.
Notes: For the 22nd time in the last 28 games in the series, the winning team had to come from behind … Jones became the first freshman to lead the Big Eight in scoring (8.40 ppg) … Sophomore Johnny Mitchell caught an NU tight-end record seven passes for 137 yards.
Quote of the game: “When you make up 14 points in this kind of weather against this kind of defense in this kind of game and win … that was excellent.” – Nebraska middle guard Pat Engelbert.