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Douglas S. Looney
December 05, 1977
In rousing regular-season finales, Texas came away the big winner, but Oklahoma, Penn State and USC did themselves proud
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December 05, 1977

What A Way To Wind It Up

In rousing regular-season finales, Texas came away the big winner, but Oklahoma, Penn State and USC did themselves proud

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On the bus rolling back to Austin, Campbell says, "I have to be honest. I am pretty well satisfied with my performance." Which shows what happens when a fellow exceeds his own expectations.


"It's a battle for the river or the beach," Barry Switzer was saying before the start of the Oklahoma-Nebraska game, the Big Eight's version of a heavyweight championship fight. The beach is in Miami, where the winner would get to play Arkansas in the Orange Bowl; the river is the Mississippi, which flows past Memphis, home of the Liberty Bowl. The loser would go there to face North Carolina. Neither Switzer nor his counterpart at Nebraska, Coach Tom Osborne, wanted any part of the river. Especially Switzer who, since taking over as Sooner head coach in 1973, had never lost to the Cornhuskers. In fact, it's never been close. Oklahoma has won by 14 points or more each time.

"You don't dominate a school like Nebraska," says Switzer. "The program is too good to be dominated." Then, on Friday afternoon before a crowd of 71,184 in Norman, his marvelously quick Sooners went out and did just that, throttling Nebraska, 38-7.

On defense they took Nebraska's I. M. Hipp, who had been averaging well over 100 yards a game, and locked him in a closet, holding him to 33 yards. The Oklahoma offense was surprising in that it was virtually fumble-free and at the same time predictable in that it was its usual relentless self, battering out 453 yards and 27 first downs. Quarterback Thomas Lott rushed for 143 yards, Halfback Elvis Peacock for 123.

"It was the offense that made us look so good," said Oklahoma defensive coordinator Larry Lacewell later. "It kept us off the field." Indeed, not once did Nebraska begin a drive in Oklahoma territory.

The first time Nebraska got the ball it was forced to punt. No damage. The second time it had a pass intercepted. Still no damage. The third time it fumbled. School was out. Starting from their 35, the Sooners launched a nine-play scoring drive, Peacock going over from the two. On Oklahoma's next possession, Lott directed a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown march that ended with Peacock blasting over from a yard out. Oklahoma 14-0.

"When we fell behind that early," Osborne noted afterward, "we were taken out of what we wanted to do."

Which was run the ball. What they had to do was pass. Quarterback Tom Sorley shuffled a screen pass to I-back Rick Berns for a 10-yard gain, then hit Tight End Ken Spaeth cutting across the middle for 11 yards and into Sooner territory. Two plays later Sorley passed to Wingback Kenny Brown for 36 yards to the two, from where Berns bulled in to make it 14-7. A ball game.

But not for long. Taking the kickoff, the Sooners practically fled down the field. Lott twice fed Fullback Kenny King for 19 yards and Peacock once for ll. He kept the ball four times for 50 yards, the last 11 coming on a lonely touchdown sprint around right end that restored the 14-point lead.

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