You know the old cliché ‘you can't win them all'? Well, that was never more apparent than Oklahoma's trip to Lincoln. With the offensive line nagged by injuries and starting two freshmen, the Sooners' offense was never able to get on track.
Redshirt Sophomore Jason White, making only his second collegiate start, looked a bit anxious in the first quarter. Just when it seemed as if he was getting comfortable in the pocket, he left the game with what appeared to be a twisted knee. The status of his injury has not been disclosed.
Enter once starter and now second string quarterback Nate Hybl. The Georgia native finished the drive that White started by connecting on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Trent Smith for the Sooners only touchdown. With a 10-10 stalemate at the end of the second quarter, the Sooners would eventually be shutout in the second half.
"That can't happen. That's the bottom line," Hybl said of being shut out in the second half of the game. "The defense, as always, hung in there and kept us in the ballgame. We just have to make it happen."
Hybl was solid, but did not do nearly enough to pull out a win in Lincoln. He finished the day 17 of 36 for 184 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The defense played well enough to win the game, but did not force a turnover to give the offense an opportunity to score, when they were obviously struggling.
With Nebraska leading 13-10 mid-way through the fourth quarter, something had to break the monotony. That something was a double reverse with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Eric Crouch. The score broke the game open and all but shut the door on Oklahoma's chance of extending their winning streak to 21.
"As far as wins go, I've had a lot of them, but this one pretty much ranks up toward the top," said quarterback Eric Crouch, who caught the touchdown pass on the end of a reverse to put the game out of reach for the Sooners.
The key play of the game may have occurred just moments before the touchdown pass. On a 3rd and two, the Oklahoma defense corralled Crouch and looked to have stopped the Huskers.
However, while in pursuit, Oklahoma defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson inadvertently got his hand caught in Crouch's facemask. The Sooners stopped Nebraska for a loss, but the five-yard penalty was enough for a first down. The ensuing drive is forever etched into college football history.
Nebraska did an outstanding job of playing mistake free football. The Huskers did not have any backbreaking turnovers, very few penalties, and made the most of good field position. Sure, it wasn't pretty, but it was enough to edge the second ranked Sooners 20-10.
Oklahoma, who has won 27 of 33 games under Stoops, had not lost since the 1999 Independence Bowl.
"Losing is a strange feeling in our locker room. We do not know what to feel. It's been a long time," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "It was a great atmosphere and a great game. I was proud to be part of it, but I just wish it would have went the other way."
Assuming both teams win the remainder of their regular season games, look for the two powerhouses to collide again in the Big 12 Championship game in Dallas.
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