Not surprisingly, the largest portion of pregame energy was generated by Bosworth. The Boz had kept a relatively low profile while Oklahoma rolled over the Little Six, but he was front and center again last week. He let it be known that he is preparing for a December appearance on Late Night With David Letterman. He has just finished reading a copy of Jim McMahon's recent biography, in which McMahon wrote the inscription, "Don't worry about what people think. Just continue to kick ass." Another kindred spirit, Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Kerfeld, "just wanted to meet the Boz," and presented him with a roll of toilet paper inscribed GO BIG RED.
"The Best of the Boz" became a popular segment of a Lincoln newscast. One installment featured excerpts from a Bosworth interview in which he rhapsodized about pain: "I enjoy getting hurt...the deep bruises...the shoulder separations." When Bosworth marched into Memorial Stadium with the Sooners on Friday afternoon wearing aviator shades, young Husker fans drew around him. "What can you say?" said one teenager, grudgingly. "The guy's cool."
His opponents were not impressed. "Generally, people who have a lot to say about themselves don't think very much of themselves," said Nebraska linebacker Kevin Parsons.
Whatever, the Huskers were way up for Oklahoma, and they struck first. Led by sophomore quarterback Steve Taylor, who broke many of Marcus Allen's records at Lincoln High in San Diego, Nebraska drove 85 yards to score on Keith Jones's two-yard run in the first quarter. So much for Oklahoma's string of games without yielding a rushing touchdown or a first-quarter point.
The Sooners answered with Holieway, who led all runners with 94 yards on 25 carries, scoring on a four-yard dash. The key play was a 29-yard pass to Jackson, who finished with three receptions for 87 yards. But the Sooners found themselves trailing 10-7 at the half, and they lost some of their brashness when Taylor completed a 25-yard shot to Rod Smith to make the score 17-7 with four minutes gone in the third quarter. Said Cornhusker offensive right tackle Tom Welter, "They don't talk too much when they are getting beat." Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jim Donnan concurred. "There wasn't much to say," he said. "They played better defense against us than Miami did."
When the Sooners got the ball at their own six with 4:10 to play, they trailed 17-10. On fourth-and-one, Holieway optioned right, gained five yards and then fumbled the ball over to Nebraska. Ball game—except for that face mask call against Thomas. "We punished Jamelle, and then gave that ball back to them like a present," said a distraught Thomas.
It was the last opening Oklahoma would need. Its offensive line, which Switzer says is the best he has ever had, came to the fore. Then, with the Nebraska secondary up close to stop the run, Jackson beat Davis to the end zone. Switzer elected to kick a PAT rather than go for two. A tie would guarantee the Sooners both the conference championship and an Orange Bowl bid.
The Huskers failed to pick up a first down, so the Sooners took over at their own 35 with 50 seconds remaining. Four plays later Holieway found Jackson behind the outstretched Thomas, and the Sooners were on the 14 with nine seconds left. After Lashar's winning field goal, several stunned Cornhuskers crumpled to the artificial turf. Oklahoma was giddy. Bosworth, upon seeing Jackson crowded by the media, wailed in mock lament, "They don't need me anymore."
A man of as many words as the ABC-TV sportscaster of the same name, Jackson was ecstatic. He needled Switzer, saying he might transfer to a school with a pass-oriented team. "If you transfer, I'm going with you," said Switzer, who also pointed out that while Oklahoma may not throw much, its average gain per completion (19.9 yards) led the nation. "Don't worry about Keith," he said. "He'll catch plenty of balls in the pros."
Undoubtedly. But after the Orange Bowl, Jackson plans to rededicate himself to his other major interest—playing the cello. "I'm pretty good, but I gave it up these last two years," he said. "Maybe someday I'll give y'all a concert."