A Title Game Osborne Didn’t Want


Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne hates the Big 12 title game. He lobbied hard against it, saying the extra contest could cost the conference a national championship.

It may have. Nebraska’s devastating defeat by Texas in last year’s inaugural Big 12 title game in St. Louis denied the Cornhuskers a chance at their third consecutive national title.

So, here we are again, Nebraska having to get past another Texas school to stay in national title contention.


With a victory Saturday in San Antonio, No. 2 Nebraska proceeds to the Orange Bowl and hopes for a Michigan defeat in the Rose Bowl.

First things first. The Cornhuskers are a shaky 11-0, if that’s possible. They needed a miracle to beat Missouri in overtime and last week nearly blew a fourth-quarter lead before holding on to beat Colorado, 27-24.

But Nebraska is Nebraska. It leads the nation in total offense, averaging 511 yards a game, with a devastating option attack that hasn’t changed much in 30 years. The Cornhuskers have three punishing runners in quarterback Scott Frost, tailback Ahman Green and fullback Joe Makovicka.

“You can’t take a scout team quarterback and simulate what our players are going to face on game day,” said Texas A&M; Coach R.C. Slocum, whose team has not faced Nebraska since the 1988 Kickoff Classic.

Texas A&M; has bounced back from a 6-6 1996 season in which they were projected as national title contenders. The Aggies’ 1997 season turned Nov. 1 when they rallied from a 22-7 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Oklahoma State in overtime. Texas A&M;, which had dropped consecutive road games before that, won four in a row to close the regular season.

Brandon Stewart, who wisely transferred from Tennessee after deducing he might not beat out Peyton Manning, has recovered from blistering criticism to become a solid leader.


Stewart and Frost have much in common. Frost is also a transfer, from Stanford, who has had a rocky relationship with his fans.

“We have somewhat similar stories,” Stewart said. “It is ironic that two transfer quarterbacks are playing each other in the conference title game.”

* The Line: Nebraska by 18.