But on this night, Alabama will play with such calculated ferocity that by the final gun THE NOISE has dwindled to a groan. Alabama is LSU's superior in everything, including dress. The Tigers, for whatever reasons of austerity or defective laundry facilities, appear in soiled tear-away jerseys that are mostly torn-away even before the game. With bare midriffs, they resemble so many down-at-the-heels Seventh Avenue streetwalkers. Alabama is crisp and neat in red and white. They subdue the tatterdemalion opposition with minimal exertion.
The alliterative headline the following morning in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate reads: BEAR'S BAMANS BURST BENGALS' BUBBLE.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS 27
NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS 0
From the air, sighted through a thin mauve haze above the flat gray plains, the University of Oklahoma's Owen Field in Norman looks like nothing more than a large bowl of tomato soup. Oklahoma will play its traditional opponent, the University of Nebraska, this day, and though the official colors of the two schools are not identical—Oklahoma is crimson and cream, Nebraska scarlet and cream—in the stadium they are, with only minor gradations in shading, all red.
On the field, Oklahoma wears red jerseys, red helmets and white pants; Nebraska has white helmets, white jerseys and red pants. Supporters of both teams wear red hats, red sweaters, red corsages, red bandannas, even red socks. They wave red bandannas and shake red pompons. And since temperatures are in the 70s and the air is still and moist and spirits are high, they are mostly red-faced.
A large red bus is parked outside the stadium entrance on which, painted boldly in white, is this message: THOUGH YOUR SINS ARE SCARLET, THEY BE WHITE AS SNOW.
For Oklahoma the inscription is apt, even prophetic. Damned by the NCAA for illegal recruiting and declared ineligible, therefore, for postseason games, the scarlet Sooners will soon beat hell out of untainted Nebraska, ON TO THE PROBATION BOWL proclaims a red banner held aloft.
It is a dull and, yes, colorless conquest. There is no noise in quiet Norman, save for that in the stadium, and by LSU aural criteria, there is none there. The game is over almost before it begins. The sinners' triumph is merciless, swift and convincing.
For a rivalry of such consequence, the contest stirs few emotions. The student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily, plays the 10th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination on Page One; the "Battle of the Big Reds" is merely an inside feature. There is no inspirational march music at halftime. Instead, this period is dedicated to the oeuvre of composer-conductor Henry Mancini, who, neatly turned out in sports coat, slacks and porkpie hat, acknowledges the tribute in person. He mounts a stepladder and, teetering precariously there, bows, hat in hand, to his admirers.