November 26, 1993
Nebraska was the almost forgotten team. In a college football year with an epic clash at South Bend between #1 Florida State and #2 Notre Dame, it was the Irish's national championship to lose after they beat the Seminoles, 31-24. But a week later, they did, falling 41-39 to visiting and #17 Boston College. It meant that the immediate benefactor was the undefeated Huskers, with a "We Refuse To Lose" team slogan that had quietly propelled them to a 10-0 record and #2 ranking in the AP poll behind Florida State, but first in the coach's poll. With an outright Big Eight conference title and trip to the Orange Bowl already clinched, the Huskers were one win away from their first perfect regular season in ten years, and another chance to get 21-year coach Tom Osborne that elusive national title.
Meanwhile, standing in their way was coach Gary Gibbs and one of his best teams yet, #16 Oklahoma (8-2). They were definitely a formidable opponent, but the Sooners were also coming in having suffered a somewhat disappointing season. It began with five straight wins, including a 30-point blowout over #3 Texas A&M, their only loss and now ranked eighth, but Big Eight conference play was not as kind, and Oklahoma lost soundly to both Colorado (27-10) and Kansas State (21-7), two teams now ranked #18 and #20 respectively.
Using those two teams as a barometer, Nebraska had beaten the Buffaloes, 21-17, and the Wildcats, 45-28. en route to averaging 40 points per game. Their offense featured sophomore quarterback and option wizard Tommie Frazier with a supporting cast of senior I-back Calvin Jones, the team's leading rusher, and freshman Lawrence Phillips, and Corey Dixon and Abdul Muhammad at split end and wingback. Up front was the usual breed of Husker offensive linemen clearing the way with a pair of juniors who were the latest in a long line of outstanding linemen, guard Brenden Stai and tackle Zack Weigert.
On defense, it was the first season coordinator Charlie McBride switched to a full-time 4-3 attack mode, and the dividends came early and often. All-American linebacker and Butkus Award finalist Trev Alberts, the team's leading tackler and one of the greatest defensive players ever at the university, re-defined the role of Nebraska's defensive end, even warranting a name-change to "rush end". He led the "Blackshirt" defense, which permitted just under 17 points per game.
Oklahoma came in averaging 31 points per game. They featured a balanced offensive attack behind senior quarterback Cale Gundy, who owned almost every Sooner passing record, and sophomore back Dewell Brewer. On the other side of the ball was a defense that had permitted 15.5 points per game. Senior linebacker Aubrey Beavers, junior end Cedric Jones, and junior defensive back Darrius Johnson were the leaders.
Gibbs made sure that Nebraska could not overlook the Sooners as they prepared for their match up in Miami. In front of over 75,000 at Memorial Stadium, and on a day when the wind chill was below zero in Lincoln, the visitor's jumped out quickly.
Starting at its own 26, Oklahoma marched down the field on the vaunted Black Shirts and scored on their first possession. Fullback Dwayne Chandler bulled over from a yard out to cap the 74-yard drive, and the Scott Blanton's extra point put the Sooners ahead, 7-0. But the Huskers had suffered a bigger loss on the drive when Alberts, the heart of their defense, left the game with a dislocated elbow.
Nebraska's offense sputtered in the first half, but managed a two-yard touchdown run by Frazier, and struggling kicker Byron Bennett's extra point, pulled the game even. From there, both defenses controlled the game, and the score haled 7-7 into the locker room.
In the second half, it was more of the same, as neither team could penetrate the other. After a scoreless third, Nebraska finally took their first lead of the game when Frazier hit Muhammed with an 11-yard scoring pass with 13:20 left. Then, it happened.
On the ensuing kickoff, Nebraska's David Seizys recovered a fumble at the Oklahoma 20-yard line. On the very next play, Jones raced into the end zone for his 12th touchdown of the year, and Bennett's extra point gave the home team a 14-point lead. They had scored twice in a span of 13 seconds.
From there, the Black Shirts continued their exemplary play, and Nebraska had a hard fought 21-7 victory.
The game provided little in the way of offensive statistics to fill resumes. Frazier had his worst outing of the year, accumulating 37 yards rushing, 57 yards passing, one fumble and an interception, Gundy connected on only eight of 22 passes for 85 yards. The Sooners held Jones to under 100 yards for only the second time during the season in which he had a carry, but his 82 yards were still a game high.
Nevertheless, the Huskers could head southeast to warmer climate perfect for the first time since 1983.
Source: Jeff Linkowski