LINCOLN, Neb. -- Everything was half right for Oklahoma.
Like this blown up and framed poster of an old Sports Illustrated cover inside Memorial Stadium's press box. Commemorating the Game of the Century, a Husker and Sooner on the cover, here was the headline: "Irresistible Oklahoma meets immovable Nebraska."
As a present-day barometer, it was half right. When it really mattered, the Huskers were immovable. The Sooners were hardly irresistible.
Or this comment Bo Pelini made after the game, the Nebraska coach exulting in victory but trying to be gracious, too.
"I've had some great (wins), but this one ranks right up there," he said. "Oklahoma's a good football team."
The Sooners were a good team against Tulsa, most of the way against Texas, the second half at Kansas and at the beginning and end against Kansas State. But they weren't much good at all Saturday night in Lincoln, coughing up the latest in a line of avoidable defeats.
Unless that's not fair. Perhaps they're not avoidable. Maybe this wasn't a good team playing poorly, but a mediocre team playing like one. Whatever, the rest of the season will determine.
Once again OU's defense did about all it could. It finally let up right at the end, right after Landry Jones' fourth interception appeared to seal the Sooners' fate. But Husker kicker Alex Henery couldn't put it away giving OU one more chance. So Jones took it and threw his fifth interception.
But the Sooner quarterback may well deserve some slack. A redshirt freshman, he's been better than anybody should have hoped. Until he met the Huskers, then he threw high and long about as often as he threw off his back foot and short.
One play, likely to be overlooked, came on fourth-and-1 at the Husker 20. The Sooners going for it, Jones pitched deep in the backfield to DeMarco Murray, who went down for a loss. But there was no Husker in front of center Ben Habern. Jones could have called his own number and gone 4 yards.
It's not like there wasn't plenty of blame to go around.
Whether it's on Tress Way, Jimmy Stevens or Bob Stoops, when did OU last have a place kicker that felt any more certain than a roll of the dice?
Way missed right, left and had another blocked, only converting from 28 yards 24 seconds before the half, when his success nonetheless marked offensive failure, the Sooners doing too little with too many yards moved down the field.
OU picked up 16 more first downs than Nebraska and gained 145 more yards. But it didn't matter because Jones couldn't throw straight and, against the best defense the Sooners have yet seen, Ryan Broyles seemed like the only guy the Huskers had to worry about.
It's really stunning.
How the Sooners can score 42 points one week and a field goal the next. Or how much better Broyles is than every other receiver on the roster. Maybe Brandon Caleb would have made a difference, but after it was announced he'd likely play and after suiting up and warming up, he didn't play. Adron Tennell might have made a dent in the Husker defense, if only he'd caught the ball.
They were back, too.
The Huskers committed more, but nine flags did the Sooners no favors.
It's never a good time to for one, but OU's particularly adept at identifying the worst time to get caught, like when Frank Alexander's dead ball personal foul kept Nebraska moving toward a field goal in the third quarter. Or later when OU was ready to go on fourth-and-1, but Trent Williams' false start forced Way into the game to miss left.
The Sooners did plenty with nothing to show for it.
They were half right, but all wrong.
Clay Horning 366-3526 firstname.lastname@example.org
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Everything was half right for Oklahoma.
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