After that there was only one moment when it seemed as if Nebraska might get back into it. Early in the second half King fumbled, Nebraska recovering at its 39. The Huskers moved to midfield, but then Hipp mishandled a low pitch and Oklahoma fell on the ball. Three minutes later Uwe von Schamann booted one from 45 yards out to make it 24-7 Oklahoma. The Sooners' two fourth-quarter touchdowns were merely adornments.
"This is the best team I've ever had here in Oklahoma," Switzer said after the game. "Nebraska was murder." That was charitable. Nebraska is going to the river. Switzer and Oklahoma are headed for the beach.
PENN STATE 15, PITT 13
In the lightly falling snow at Pittsburgh it all came down to the final 12 seconds. In less than a minute Pitt's Matt Cavanaugh, for most of the afternoon frustrated and frozen, had completed three passes, the last to Split End Gordon Jones for 17 yards and a touchdown. That whittled Penn State's lead to 15-13, and the favored Panthers were preparing to go for two points and a tie. Across the field Penn State's Joe Paterno snapped on his headphones. Now was the time for the final masterful defensive strategy.
"Jerry." Paterno said, speaking into the mouthpiece to Jerry Sandusky, Penn State's defensive coordinator sitting in the press box, "what will they try?"
There was a moment of silence; then Sandusky answered. "I haven't got the slightest idea," he said.
What hung in the balance was no bowl bid. Pitt already had an invitation to the Gator Bowl, Penn State knew it was going to the Fiesta Bowl. The Nittany Lions and the Panthers played this one for the supremacy of the East, for the Lambert Trophy and for all the things that matter in a rivalry that dates back to 1893.
All week both sides had spoken of a game of pitch-and-catch, Cavanaugh against Penn State's Chuck Fusina, with enough flashy receivers on both sides to stock the Southeastern Conference. But Friday night, a severe cold front had moved in, dropping the temperature to 25°—25-mph winds created a wind-chill factor in Pitt Stadium at zero—and after that no one was sure what might happen.
On that cold note the game began with neither side wanting the ball. Penn State won the toss and elected to open with the wind at its back, giving the option of receiving the kickoff to Pitt. No thank you, Pitt said, choosing to kick off, and Fusina went right to work. In six plays he moved the Lions from their own 23 to the Pitt six, mostly by means of a third-down 48-yard pass to Flanker Jimmy Cefalo that put Penn State at the Pitt 20.
But, once at the six, Fusina ran into trouble. On third down he dropped back to pass, had to flee from Defensive End Hugh Green's charge and slipped and fell. In came Matt Bahr to salvage that setback with a 34-yard field goal.