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Sports Weekend | WEEK 6 PRIMER

A Repeat of '97 Would Be Quite a Feat

October 23, 1998|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Hey, Missouri, wasn't last year's game a kick?

Nearly a year after Nebraska parlayed a once-in-a-century miracle play into a share of the national title, the schools reunite in Lincoln.

If Nebraska wanted to further rile Missouri, the Cornhuskers would come out for warmups wearing soccer uniforms.

Backdrop: Leading, 38-31, last Nov. 8 in Columbia, Missouri appeared headed for a major upset. But with seven seconds left and the ball at the Missouri 12, Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost fired a pass to receiver Shevin Wiggins. Wiggins bobbled the ball at the goal line but, as he was falling down, kicked it back over his head. Matt Davison, minding his own business, scooped the ball up before it hit the ground. Not exactly the way then-coach Tom Osborne had drawn it up.

The Cornhuskers won in overtime, 45-38.

Nebraska dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in both polls after the "win," but recovered to win a share of the national title.

"It was a strange feeling," Missouri Coach Larry Smith said this week. "We knew that we had lost the game, but we weren't beaten, that's basically the way to put it."

Smith has gone, oh, minutes without thinking of last year's game, confessing the the biggest mistake he made was winning the overtime toss and electing to go on defense. That's the rule of thumb, but Missouri's defense was still in shock.

Nebraska scored in three plays in overtime, held on defense and stormed away with the luckiest win in school history.

Both schools enter Saturday's game somewhat suspect. Missouri led Ohio State at the half before losing, 35-14, and quarterback Corby Jones has been hobbled by injury.

Nebraska nearly lost to Oklahoma State on Oct. 3 before losing the next week to Texas A&M, 28-21.

Whither the Cornhuskers? Nebraska rebounded for a 41-0 win last week over Kansas, boasts a 45-game home winning streak and still has designs on getting back into the national title race.

Line: Nebraska by 19.

Rating the TV Games



**** Don't leave the recliner

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to flip to fishing show.

* For arena football scouts only

** Indiana (3-3) at Michigan (4-2), 9 a.m., ESPN

After allowing chunks of yards in losses to option quarterbacks Jarious Jackson and Donovan McNabb, Wolverine defense braces for Hoosiers' Antwaan Randle-El.

Line: Michigan by 14.

** No. 1 Ohio State (6-0) at Northwestern (2-5), 9 a.m., ESPN2

Plan to have squads from banner 1995 season play instead quashed by bureaucratic red tape and eligibility concerns.

Line: Ohio State by 27 1/2.

** Army (2-4) at No. 18 Notre Dame (4-1), 11:30, Channel 4

After nearly replacing "Here Come the Irish" with reruns of "Friends" last year, NBC orders five more episodes of Notre Dame football.

Line: Notre Dame by 25.

** Alabama (4-2) at No. 2 Tennessee (5-0), 12:30, Channel 2

What looks like an exciting, storied, epic battle between traditional SEC powers is actually a Tennessee wipeout waiting to happen.

Line: Tennessee by 17 1/2.

** East Carolina (4-2) at Southern Mississippi (3-3), 12:30 p.m., FSW

After Oct. 3 loss to Tulane, Southern Mississippi hasn't missed in wins over Louisville and Army.

Line: Southern Mississippi by 9.

** No. 24 Mississippi State (5-1) at Louisiana State (3-3), 3 p.m., ESPN2

During halftime, LSU proudly accepts a third-consecutive ESPY for "Team most likely to disappoint."

Line: LSU by 8.

*** No. 6 Florida State (6-1) at No. 20 Georgia Tech (5-1), 4 p.m., ESPN

Seminoles travel to Atlanta to take back what's rightfully theirs--first place in the ACC.

Line: Florida State by 12 1/2.

** Baylor (2-4) at Texas (4-2), 4 p.m, FX

Ricky Williams continues his assault on Tony Dorsett's NCAA rushing record; Baylor continues its assault on mediocrity.

Line: Texas by 16 1/2.

** No. 17 Colorado (6-1) at Kansas (2-5), 4 p.m. FSW

Using time-lapse photography, scientists chart Rick Neuheisel's inchworm offense as it works its way toward field-goal range.

Line: Colorado by 7 1/2.

* New Mexico (2-4) at Hawaii (0-6), 9 p.m., FSW2

Fred vonAppen's Hawaii squad is vonRotten, making this trip to the islands von big waste of time.

Line: New Mexico by 7.

5 Things To Look For

1. A police blotter report from Morgantown, W.Va. A few weeks after home fans were penalized for throwing whiskey bottles on the field during a game, West Virginia thought it would be good idea to honor the school's 1998 NCAA championship rifle team at halftime of Saturday's game against Miami. Whiskey and guns? Let's hope those muskets aren't loaded.

2. Justin Fargas getting the start for Michigan against Indiana. It was an impressive showing last Saturday for three Southern California tailbacks--Fargas, DeShaun Foster and Reuben Droughns. Only Fargas, however, escaped without injury. The former Notre Dame High star gained 120 yards in 31 carries against Northwestern.

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