Nebraska, the team that couldn't win the big one, did. And now, it's got an even bigger one coming up.
The 11th-ranked Cornhuskers rallied for a 19-14 victory Friday over No. 19 Oklahoma, earning a share of the Big Eight championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day against the top-ranked team in the land, Miami.Nebraska hadn't won a game against a Top 20 team in more than three seasons and trailed 14-3 in the first half.
The victory left Nebraska (9-1-1) and No. 15 Colorado with identical Big Eight records of 6-0-1, but the Cornhuskers get the trip to the Orange Bowl because of the higher national ranking.
Colorado, meanwhile, will go to the Blockbuster Bowl against No. 8 Alabama on Dec. 28, and Oklahoma (8-3) goes to the Gator Bowl against No. 20 Virginia the following day.
In games involving ranked teams today, it's San Diego State at Miami (10-0), No. 3 Florida State (10-1) at No. 5 Florida (9-1), Alabama (9-1) at Auburn, Vanderbilt at No. 9 Tennessee (8-2), No. 18 Notre Dame (8-3) at Hawaii, and No. 25 Georgia (7-3) at Georgia Tech.
In addition, Duke plays No. 13 Clemson (8-1-1) at Tokyo.
At Lincoln, Neb., freshman Calvin Jones ran 15 yards for the go-ahead TD with 2:57 to play. Nebraska pulled to 14-10 when Keithen McCant scrambled 5 yards for a TD, capping a 70-yard drive opening the third quarter.
Tight end Johnny Mitchell made a 28-yard reception against double coverage to set up the Huskers' 33-yard field goal by Byron Bennett, making it 14-13 with 12:20 to play.
The Huskers will meet Miami for the third time in the Orange Bowl. The 1983 Cornhuskers lost their No. 1 ranking to Miami 31-30, and the 1988 squad lost to the Hurricanes 23-3.
Miami winds up its regular season against San Diego State, a high-scoring team which is led by the nation's most productive rusher, freshman Marshall Faulk. He has rushed for 1,275 yards and 21 touchdowns this season
``He has excellent speed and breaks tackles,' Miami coach Dennis Erickson said. ``Anytime you gain as many yards as he has, I don't care what league you're playing in, as a freshman that's a great year.'
Neither Faulk nor San Diego State, however, has faced anyone like Miami, which has allowed only 88 points this season, fewest in the nation.
Believe it or not, Florida-Florida State is a football game, not legalized mayhem. But, says Florida defensive tackle Tony McCoy: ``If fighting was legal, these two teams would do it. You'd have to go out there and count the bodies that are standing.'
The game is particularly important to Florida coach Steve Spurrier, whose announced intention when he took over the job was to close the talent gap between the Gators and rivals Florida State and Miami.
``I consider us in the same company as Miami and FSU right now,' Florida fullback Dexter McNabb said.
Florida State is headed for the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day against Texas A&M, while Florida will play Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl later that night.