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So Long, Big 8: Nebraska, 37-0

So Long, Big 8: Nebraska, 37-0

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- This week the country reflected on the 1960s due

to ABC's three-part series on the Beatles.

On Friday, the Sooners caused people to look back to the same

decade and an 11-part series.

The year 1965 especially comes to mind following Oklahoma's

37-0 loss to top-ranked Nebraska in a historic Big Eight Conference

finale before a nationally televised audience and 75,662 at

Memorial Stadium.

It's the first time since 1965 that the Sooners, who lost 12-0

to Oklahoma State last week, have been shut out in consecutive

games. Thirty years ago they lost 10-0 to Navy and 19-0 to Texas in

back-to-back games.

The Sooners' five losses this season are the most since going

3-7 in 1965 under Gomer Jones.

OU's 2-5 Big Eight record is its first losing league record

since '65.

The usual problems of a disappointing season again plagued the

Sooners on Friday.

Turnovers (two of OU's three were returned for touchdowns),

penalties (nine for 97 yards) and a

blown assignment in the secondary led to the Sooners' worst loss to

the Cornhuskers since 1928 when NU won 44-6.

The offense was limited again.

OU's point production has declined in every game since

defeating Iowa State 39-26. The Sooners scored 24 points against

Texas, 17 vs. Kansas, 13 vs. Missouri and 10 vs. Kansas State

before back-to-back shutouts. They were scoreless in the final 10

quarters of the season.

It's a big reason why the Sooners have lost four of their last

five games and are 2-5-1 since opening the season 3-0 and ranked in

the top 10.

``You can't put the ball in the end zone unless you're a great

football team with the number of penalties we had and obviously the

(turnovers),'' OU coach Howard Schnellenberger said.

The Sooners close Schnellenberger's first season 5-5-1 and 2-5

in the Big Eight. They close the final Big Eight season -- four

Texas schools have been added to what will become the Big 12 in

1996 -- with their worst record since the league went to eight

teams in 1959. They were 2-4-1 in 1960.

Meanwhile, Nebraska (11-0, 7-0 Big Eight) won its 24th

consecutive game and completed its third consecutive unbeaten

regular season. The Cornhuskers will play for the national

championship Jan. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl. They already clinched their

fifth consecutive Big Eight title.

``I was probably more apprehensive about this game than any

game we've played in a long time and that includes Colorado,

K-State and KU just because I felt they had good athletes and

because I thought the Oklahoma State game would really focus

them,'' NU coach Tom Osborne said.

``I've never known an Oklahoma team that didn't play Nebraska

hard at the end of the year.''

The defense gave the Sooners an opportunity.

The Huskers ended up with 271 yards rushing, but 106 of that

came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was obvious. The

Huskers added 14 points, including a touchdown in the final minute

to cover the spread. The game, however, was closer.

Quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Tommie Frazier was not

much of a factor. He completed 12-of-25 for 128 yards and threw an

interception while running for 36 yards on 10 carries.

``I really believe that (Oklahoma's) front seven is the best

that we've played this year,'' Osborne said.

It was just 13-0 near the midway mark of the third quarter

with the Sooners looking like they might make it interesting.

OU crossed midfield for only the third time when halfback

James Allen was stripped of the ball by linebacker Jared Tomich.

Free safety Tony Veland scooped it up and returned it 57 yards for

a back-breaking touchdown.

``Obviously midway through the third quarter, the chances of

winning the football game began to slip away from us,''

Schnellenberger said. ``And it slipped away because of the

continuing inability of our football team to play closer to

error-free than we have been playing.''

Veland's touchdown was the second scored by the NU defense.

On OU's first possession, linebacker Jamel Williams

intercepted an overthrown pass by redshirt freshman quarterback

Eric Moore. Williams returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, putting

the Sooners in a 10-0 hole before the game was seven minutes old.

Even a change in quarterbacks didn't help put points on the


Senior Garrick McGee, from Tulsa, was inserted during OU's

first drive of the second quarter after sitting out the Oklahoma

State game. With McGee at the controls, OU moved the ball better

than it had with Moore in the first quarter -- one first down,

minus 24 yards rushing and seven yards total offense in 10 plays.

McGee ended up playing the final three quarters and finished

15-of-30 for 159 yards with one interception in his longest stretch

of playing time this season.

``(McGee) had made some plays and I elected to let him finish

out the quarter,'' Schnellenberger said. ``At halftime, reflecting

on what had happened in the first half of the game, I felt our best

chance to win was to stay with Garrick.''

The problem against the Huskers wasn't the passing attack, but

the ground game.

The Sooners finished with a season-low 51 yards rushing.

Fullback Jerald Moore had only 39 yards on 14 carries. OU's longest

gain on the ground was 12 yards.

``They were playing an eight-man front and had the safety

up,'' said Jerald Moore, who finished the season with 1,001 yards.

``It made it hard to run the ball, but it opened up the pass.''

The 37-point loss was the final blow in what has been a

difficult first year for Schnellenberger.

``Today, there were two teams out there battling,''

Schnellenberger said. ``One has the capacity to put plays together

and make good things happen, although they only did it late in the

game. Our football team played give-away throughout the year and

that was the story again today.''

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