Lincoln -In another classic installment of one of football's most historic rivalries, Nebraska fell behind Oklahoma by 21 points early in the third quarter before rallying in a 31-24 setback to the Sooners at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Saturday afternoon.
Playing in front of 77,438 fans in the NCAA-record 274th consecutive sellout at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln and an ABC national television audience, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first half to set the tone for the Sooners. Oklahoma improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12, while Nebraska slipped to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in conference action.
Nebraska's Blackshirts shut down Peterson in the second half to keep the offense within striking, but a pair of interceptions that led to 10 Sooner points proved to be the difference in the game.
Chijioke Onyenegecha's first career interception and 63-yard return for a touchdown with one minute remaining in the first half gave the Sooners a 21-3 lead. OU pushed its lead to 24-3 early in the third quarter, as Garrett Hartley booted a 50-yard field goal after a Dusty Dvoracek interception for the Sooners on NU's first drive of the second half.
Then Nebraska began to rally. The Huskers responded on their next drive by marching 80 yards on 16 plays in 6:07 capped by Zac Taylor's three-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Nunn to trim the OU edge to 24-10 with 5:17 to play in the third quarter.
Nebraska's special teams then came up with a big play on an Oklahoma field goal attempt, as a mishandled snap on a 52-yard field goal attempt bounded into OU's half of the field to set the Huskers up at the OU 48. It was the third unsuccessful field goal attempt on the day by the Sooners, who also missed a 44-yard attempt wide right in the first quarter.
The Husker offense capitalized, driving 48 yards for a touchdown capped by Taylor's 25-yard pass to Nate Swift on the opening play of the fourth quarter to cut the Sooner lead in half at 24-17 with 14:53 remaining in the game.
Nebraska dominated the third quarter, outgaining OU, 107-6, while maintaining possession for 11:14 in the quarter.
The Sooners answered with an 85-yard touchdown drive on their next possession that culminated with a 17-yard Kejuan Jones touchdown run with 10:58 left. Jones' touchdown run followed a successful fake field goal attempt, as Hartley picked up six yards on fourth-down-and-three.
But the Huskers kept it interesting to the end by flying 70 yards in just four plays on the next drive, highlighted by a razzle-dazzle 18-yard touchdown pass from senior I-back Cory Ross to freshman wide receiver Nate Swift with 5:56 left in the game. For Swift it was his ninth catch of the game and pushed him over 100 yards receiving for the second straight game, after hauling in nine catches for 135 yards and one touchdown last week at Missouri.
The Blackshirts then came up with a defensive stop to give the offense the ball back at the NU 27 with 2:37 left in the game. But after picking up one first down, the Sooners shut the door on Nebraska's comeback hopes to regain possession at the NU 15 with 56 seconds left in the game.
For the game, Nebraska amassed 283 yards of total offense, including 249 yards passing yards from Taylor, who completed 25-of-45 attempts with one touchdown and two interceptions on the day.
Oklahoma enjoyed a balanced offensive attack, producing 337 total yards, including 157 yards on 14-of-28 passing from quarter Rhett Bomar and 180 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 45 attempts on the ground. Peterson finished the day with 146 yards and two scores on 24 carries.
The Sooners started quickly by marching 51 yards on just three plays capped a 36-yard Peterson touchdown run to give OU a 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Neither offense was able to get much going the rest of the first quarter, but Oklahoma struck again early in the second quarter, as Peterson put the exclamation point on a 12-play, 55-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to give the Sooners a 14-0 lead.
Nebraska responded on its next possession, as Marlon Lucky returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to put the Huskers near midfield. Six plays and 30 yards later, Jordan Congdon put the Huskers on the scoreboard with his 40-yard field goal to trim OU's lead to 14-3.
The Sooners drove into scoring position again, but freshman defensive end Barry Turner blocked Hartley's 35-yard field goal attempt to keep the OU margin at 11 points. Nebraska then began driving late in the first half, before Onyenegecha stepped in front of a Taylor pass toward the sideline and raced 63 yards untouched into the end zone for a 21-3 halftime lead.
Nebraska continues Big 12 play on the road next Saturday when the Huskers travel to Lawrence to take on the Kansas Jayhawks. The game is set for Noon and will not be televised. The game can be heard live on radio on the Pinnacle Sports Network, on the Internet at Huskers.com and on Sirius satellite radio.