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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI : Down Goes Frazier, Putting Nebraska's Hopes on Ropes

October 06, 1994|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI

Had everything gone as planned--and it hasn't for poor Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier--the Cornhusker star would have sat out Saturday's game against Oklahoma State, maybe would have played the next week against Kansas State and most definitely would have started against Missouri Oct. 22.

"If nothing unusual develops," Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne had said.

But then came the news Tuesday that Frazier had developed a second blood clot in his right leg, once again requiring hospitalization. On Wednesday, a doctor recommended surgery and said Frazier should have no physical contact for three to six months, meaning he is lost for the season.

A full recovery, of course, is what matters most.

But the fact remains that Nebraska is a significantly less dangerous team without Frazier in the lineup. Nothing against backup Brook Berringer, who is recovering from a partially collapsed left lung (he's fine now; no rib damage was discovered), but Nebraska can't beat Colorado Oct. 29 in Lincoln without Frazier.

Berringer, who was hurt despite wearing a football flak jacket, scored three touchdowns in a 10-point victory against Wyoming last Saturday, but that's the problem--it was against Wyoming , now 2-3.

Of course, don't tell Osborne that.

"It was one of the most brutal games I've been around in a long time," he said of the hard hitting.

Berringer, who spent last Saturday night and then Sunday in the hospital, is back at practice and is expected to start against Oklahoma State . . . and Kansas State . . . and every other game remaining on the schedule.

And pity the Cornhuskers if Berringer goes down. Two of Nebraska's best prospects, scholarship quarterbacks Ben Rutz and Jon Elder, transferred to other schools in the last year because they didn't want to wait for playing time. That leaves Osborne with the following choices: 1) Berringer; 2) non-scholarship player Matt Turman, a sophomore; 3) safety Tony Veland, a former quarterback switched to defense early in the 1993 season; 4) walk-on Monte Christo, who is recovering from hand surgery; 5) Adam Kucera, a former team trainer; 6) Ryan Held, a converted wide receiver; 7) retirement.

LET'S GET READY TO RUMBBBBLLLLLEEEEEE!

On its way to an NCAA-record 58-game home victory streak, Miami was an underdog a grand total of two times, according to the best guess of the Hurricane sports information department. The games: Against No. 1 Florida State in 1988, against No. 2 Florida State in 1990.

Guess what? They're dogs again, this time three points . . . at home . . . against No. 3 Florida State.

"It's like a slap in the face," Miami defensive lineman Dwayne Johnson said. "Those oddsmakers are funny people. It really doesn't matter though. The Orange Bowl is our home."

True to form, the 13th-ranked Hurricanes are doing all the necessary pregame woofing, but facts are facts: Miami is 3-1, doesn't even lead the Big East Conference, got whipped by Washington at the Orange Bowl and is one loss away from being totally eliminated from the national championship race.

"This game is the one for us to make it or break it," linebacker Rohan Marley said. "This will decide whether we're a great team or a mediocre team--and we know we're not mediocre."

And this from Hurricane guard Tirrell Greene: "The streak is over. It's time to start our own streak. We have to put (the Washington loss) behind us. We can't lose two in a row in the Orange Bowl. We won't."

Star defensive tackle Warren Sapp said he became a believer in Miami mystique in 1984, the year he bet $20 on the Hurricanes to lose to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Miami won; he lost. "And I said then I'd never go against the Hurricanes in a big game again in my life."

According to Sapp, there is no bigger game than the one against Florida State.

"There's not a day I go without thinking of this game," he said. "It's what you live for. It's what men are made of. You've got to be a real man to step out on that field and go four quarters with Florida State."

Miami has won seven of the last nine games against Florida State, but lost last year at Tallahassee. The Hurricanes, though, are 4-1 against the Seminoles when Florida State is ranked higher.

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Does anybody like Lou?

Last week it was Stanford Coach Bill Walsh who nearly backpedaled his way into San Francisco Bay after someone asked him about calling Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz "a spoiled brat" in a recently published book. Now the intrigue continues.

During his weekly Sunday news conference, Holtz was asked about first-year Boston College Coach Dan Henning, whose Eagles play the Irish Saturday at B.C.'s Alumni Stadium. That's when Holtz, after calling Henning "an intelligent individual," mentioned their relationship years ago at William & Mary. Holtz was an assistant coach, Henning was a quarterback.

"You know, I read a comment the other day where he said we didn't get along then," Holtz said. "I didn't realize that. But I have tried to help him every way possible."

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