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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 10 PRIMER

Nebraska Goes Storming Into Norman

No. 1 Nebraska at No. 3 Oklahoma / 9 a.m., ESPN pay-per-view

October 27, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Oklahoma versus Nebraska is back where it used to be: front and center on the national stage. Oklahoma and Nebraska have combined to win 10 Associated Press national titles, and there may be a sixth in the balance as the schools meet in the first No. 1 versus No. 2 regular-season matchup in the three-year history of the bowl championship series rankings.

Welcome back, old friends.

This is the 17th time both schools have been ranked in the Top 10 when they've collided, but the first time since 1988. Once, the Oklahoma-Nebraska game determined the Big Eight champion 27 times in a 29-year span.

Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 39-36-3, but Nebraska has won the last seven and nine of the last 10.

Under second-year Coach Bob Stoops, Oklahoma has turned the run-dominant attack of the Barry Switzer years into one of the nation's most feared passing attacks, led by senior quarterback Josh Heupel, who has passed for 1,894 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Sooners are coming off a 63-14 demolition of Texas and a 41-31 victory at Kansas State.

Oklahoma leads the nation in scoring, averaging 46.7 points a game. Nebraska is No. 2 at 46.3.

"We feel great about the position we're in," Stoops said. "We may be peaking at the right time, which is good."

Nebraska is Nebraska, punishing opponents with an option attack led by quarterback Eric Crouch.

"Let's face it," Stoops said. "Their offense is basically being physical, knocking people off the ball and creating space for running the ball. Not everybody has the people to do it."

Nebraska appeared a shaky No. 1 earlier this year after needing overtime to beat Notre Dame and giving up 51 total points against Missouri and Iowa State. But in the last two games, the Cornhuskers outscored Texas Tech and Baylor by a cumulative 115-3.

The quest for the national title doesn't end in Norman. The schools may end up meeting again in the Big 12 championship game.

The line: Nebraska by 3.

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

1. Michigan throwing a bash for Big Ten officials during the team's bye week. OK, let's review: On Sept. 23, two blown calls on fumbles helped Michigan to a 35-31 victory against Illinois. Two days later, the Big Ten apologized for the blunders. Last week, a blown fumble call helped Michigan to a 14-0 victory against Michigan State. Big Ten's response? We goofed. Again.

2. A Brown out. So who's having more fun as a coach in the Brown family, Watson or brother Mack? Watson Brown has led Alabama Birmingham to a 5-2 start. Mack Brown's Texas' squad is also 5-2. The difference: Alabama Birmingham is only in its fifth year at the Division I-A level and is thrilled at being one victory short of becoming bowl eligible. Texas is not so thrilled about being 5-2.

3. A Notre Dame turnover. It's a good thing Keith Jackson isn't announcing Irish football, because not once this season would he have been able to bellow "Fummmmmble! Notre Dame." That's right. Notre Dame is the only Division I-A team that has not lost a fumble. The Fighting Irish, in fact, have committed only four turnovers all season and none in the last three games.

4. A Brees breakthrough. For all his records and plaudits, Purdue senior quarterback Drew Brees has never thrown a touchdown pass against Ohio State. He'll need a couple on Saturday when the Buckeyes travel to West LaFayette, Ind. It's this simple: If Purdue defeats Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana, the Boilermakers will clinch their first Rose Bowl appearance since the 1966 season.

5. Washington at Stanford. One week after knocking USC out with a last-second touchdown pass, Stanford faces an even more formidable task: Stopping Marques Tuiasosopo. On Oct. 20, 1999 in Seattle, the Washington quarterback torched the Stanford defense for 507 yards in a 35-30 victory, becoming the first player in Division I-A history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 200 in a game. Note to Stanford defense: Tuiasosopo wears uniform No. 11.

THE OTHER GAMES

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Washington 7 at Stanford Maryland 11 1/2 at Duke Toledo 18 at Navy at Boston College 22 Rutgers at SMU 12 1/2 Nevada at Clemson 11 1/2 Georgia Tech at Purdue 1 Ohio St. Tennessee 1 1/2 at S. Carolina at Auburn 9 1/2 Arkansas Ball St. 5 at C. Michigan at Mississippi 10 UNLV Wisconsin 16 at Iowa at Louisville 13 1/2 Tulane at Kansas 3 Texas Tech W. Michigan 24 at Kent Kansas St. 5 1/2 at Texas A&M at Cincinnati 5 Miami (Ohio) at N. Illinois 34 Buffalo at Mississippi St. 27 1/2 M. Tennessee at Alabama 18 1/2 C. Florida at New Mexico 1 1/2 Utah at TCU 23 1/2 Rice at Virginia Tech 16 Pittsburgh at Virginia 4 1/2 N. Carolina at E. Carolina 14 Ala. Birm. at Colorado 11 1/2 Oklahoma St. S. Mississippi 16 1/2 at Houston at Utah St. 4 Arkansas St. at Miami 41 1/2 Louisiana Tech Marshall 3 1/2 at Akron at La. Lafayette 3 1/2 North Texas Boise St. 8 at New Mexico St. Colorado St. 9 at San Diego St. at Fresno St. 18 1/2 Tulsa

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RATING THE TV GAMES

**** Whoa, Nellie

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to pay bills while watching

* For XFL scouts only

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