When the University of Nebraska football team arrived here a week ago to begin partying, practicing, and otherwise preparing to play Oklahoma in Monday night's 45th Orange Bowl football game (WRC-TV-4, 8 p.m.), a sound truck greeted their plane, blaring forth a recording of the Cornhuskers' fight song.
More appropriate might have been the title tune from last year's soulful comedy flick, "Let's Do It Again," perhaps as sung by the celebrated walkon who became the Cornhuskers' leading rusher, the funkily-named I. M. Hipp.
Nebraska, 9-2 and ranked No. 6 nationally at the end of the regular season is the only team to beat Oklahoma this year, having dislodged the fumbling Sooners from their No. 1 ranking and national championship aspirations, 17-14, at chill and windswept Lincoln on Nov. 11.
After initial apprehensions, the Cornhuskers have decided that it might be fun to do it again.
There were shrieks of outranged indignation back in the heartland, and even murmurs of a boycott, when it was announced that Oklahoma -- 10-1 and ranked No. 4 -- would be Nebraska's opponent in its hard-earned New Year's soirec in Miami.
This was just one week after the Cornhuskers had confirmed their holiday reservations as the Big Eight Conference representative in the Orange Bowl by beating their arch rival from Norman for the first time since 1971, their national championship year. The faithful back home thought it unfair of the Orange Bowl Committee to ask for a recount.
"It's a raw deal. We hadn't beaten Oklahoma in seven years, and now were being asked to do it twice in one season," grumped Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne, who has a doctorate in educational psychology and is clearly no dummy. He realizes that for many diehard Nebraskans, the only measure of a season's success is the result against the Sooners, and hated the notion that the first triumph of his six-year regime might be neutralized in a rare rematch.
So much grousing emanated from Nebraska, you'd have thought an army of cutworms had been unleashed in the cornfields.
There was even talk of a consumel revolt by Nebraska fans -- who for 100 consecutive games have sold out Lincoln's 76,015-seat Memorial Stadium, which becomes the state's third largest population center on football Saturdays, and have a reputation for bringing so many rooters to bowl games that there's practically nobody left back home to ring in the New Year
This did not come to pass. The 12,500 tickets allocated to Nebraska were devoured as if by locusts, and more requested for the swarm of loyalists who didn't get them.
After some soul-searching, the Nebraska players and staff decided that this sequel to the War of Middle America between the Big Fight co-champions was not such a bad bit of matchmaking after all.
The Orange Bowl Committee simply paired the two highest-ranked teams available after its dreams of a national title game fell apart.
If Oklahoma had beaten Nebraska and remained unbeaten, it would have played Penn State (11-0) for the championship. If Nebraska had beaten Missouri on Nov. 18 and protected the No. 2 ranking it achieved after bumping the Sooners, it would have played Penn State here for the title.
But when the Cornhuskers lost their regular season finale to Missouri, 35-31, Penn State packed up its No. 1 rating and went to the Sugar Bowl to play second-ranked Alabama -- which whipped Nebraska, 20-3, at the start of the season -- for all the marbles.
The Orange Bowl subsequently took what it could get -- which on closer inspection ain't bad, even if folks have seen it before, Consider:
Oklahoma has the highest scoring offense in the nation, averaging 40 points a game. Nebraska is second.
Nebraska has the top total offense in the nation, 501.4 yards per game. Oklahoma is second.
Oklahoma's wishbone backfield -- Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims (1,762 yards, 7.6 average, 20 touch-downs) quarterback Thomas Lott, Kenny King and David Overstreet -- is the modern version of the Four Horsemen, the most gifted running quartet in the land.
Nebraska has two stellar runners of its own in Isaiah Moses Hipp (936 yards, 5.4 average) and Rick Berns (933 yards, including 113 against Oklahoma, 5.7 average) and a savvy quarterback in Tom Sorley (102 completions in 174 attempts, 1571 yards, 12 TDs).
Oklahoma's rugged offensive line is led by guard Greg Roberts, the Outland Trophy winner as college line-man of the year. Nebraska's, anchored by tackle Kelvin Clark, is probably even better.
Both teams are so typical, no both offense and defense, that Nebraska's Osborne testified he had "never seen a harder hitting game" than their first encounter.
Oklahomas believe that if their team hand't fumbled nine times on that frigid afternoon in Lincoin -- losing six of them, including two deep in Nebraska territory in the final nine minutes -- the Sooners would have won.
Oklahoma incentive is obvious. "I believe in a little payback," said Sims, the junior who led the nation in rushing. He ran for 153 yards against Nebraska including glorious touchdown gallops of 44 and 30 yards, but is haunted by the two late fumbles he made on the Nebraska two-and four-yard lines.
Nebraska has decided it has incentive as well.
"Oklahoma people have been calling the first game a big fluke. That's all we've heard," said Sorley. "We want to prove that the fumbles, and the score, were no fluke."
"There's no love lost between these teams," added Hipp. "If we win Monday night, we'll have beaten Oklahoma twice in one yaar. That's something we can talk about for "a long time."
He should have been humming, "Let's Do It Again."