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Osborne Sees Oklahoma As Improving _ And Still A Dangerous Rival

October 30, 1996

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Tom Osborne says you can discount the fact that once mighty Oklahoma has won just two games this season.

And never mind that fifth-ranked Nebraska shows signs of developing a passing game to complement a powerful running attack and one of the nation’s most dominating defense.

When it’s time for Nebraska and Oklahoma to play football, the spirit of the annual rivalry that began in 1928 is not to be denied, Osborne said.

``We expect a tough game and we need to prepare well for them,″ Osborne said Tuesday. ``I think we will. I think we’ll play well.″

His Cornhuskers (6-1 overall, 4-0 Big 12) travel to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners (2-5, 2-2 Big 12) Saturday in Norman.

Osborne cited Sooner victories over Texas and Baylor, and noted that Oklahoma rallied impressively in the fourth quarter before losing to Kansas State last week.

``They actually had a chance to tie that up,″ Osborne said of the Oklahoma loss to KSU. ``We’ve been very impressed with what they’ve done.″

A win would mark Nebraska’s sixth straight victory over Oklahoma and guarantee the Huskers a 35th consecutive winning season.

Osborne has cited the rivalry between the two Big Reds several times this week.

``Usually the Big Eight championship, I would say probably 75 to 80 percent of the time, hinged on the Nebraska Oklahoma game over the last 30, 35 years,″ Osborne said.

``I don’t view Oklahoma as a whole lot less dangerous right now than they have been for the last five or six years,″ the Cornhuskers’ coach said. ``The record is probably not as good as it normally has been, but I think they’re playing a lot better football. They have a lot of good athletes, so we look at it as a potentially very challenging game right now.″

Osborne gave Oklahoma more credit than first-year Sooner coach John Blake, who said that very few members of his team could make the Husker squad.

``That team is probably one of the awesomest teams I’ve seen in a long time,″ Blake said.

Defensive tackle Jason Peter, who will be playing Saturday with a broken hand, shared Osborne’s perspective on the game.

``The records up to now go out the window,″ Peter said. ``This is Nebraska and Oklahoma and that still means something. It means a lot.″

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