LINCOLN, NEB., NOV. 19 -- It is the weekend of great rivalries, whether for easterners who wishfully consider Harvard against Yale "The Game," or westerners who so presumptively entitle Stanford against California "The Big Game." But the game of most import is here, where No. 1 Nebraska hosts No. 2 Oklahoma amid an atmosphere of tension and expectancy, but also some lighter moments.
Oklahoma tight end Keith Jackson offered Coach Barry Switzer a motivational tool in preparing for the Cornhuskers, since the Sooners are underdogs without injured Jamelle Holieway and Lydell Carr.
"I think all he can do now is offer all the Sooners new cars after they graduate," Jackson said. "For a new car, I'd pull a lot of rabbits out of a hat. I'd take a BMW M-635."
The Cornhuskers received their laugh of the week at the expense of running back Tyreese Knox and defensive back Willie Griffin, who had an adventure Sunday night in Lincoln.
A shady figure offered the two players a box containing a video player for $60. They took the deal -- only to discover later that it contained nothing but two bricks.
Tight end Tom Banderas lampooned the two on the blackboard in the Conhuskers' meeting room, drawing two cartoon figures looking at a box of bricks, with the balloon caption, "Beta or VHS?"
"I would think, them being from the big city, they would check the mechandise," running back Keith (End Zone) Jones giggled. Earthquake Season
The Pacific-10 has belonged almost exclusively to UCLA in the 1980s, and that is illustrated by the turnaround in the series with Southern California. Coach Terry Donahue has a 5-2 record against USC in this decade, equaling the total number of Bruins victories in the previous 20 years of the series. From 1960 to 1979, they went 5-14-1 against the Trojans.
When they meet on Saturday, UCLA will be seeking the first unbeaten and untied season within the Pac-10 since the conference expanded in 1978. The Bruins are favored to win the title and go to the Rose Bowl as usual, particularly since Gaston Green is healthy after missing the last two weeks. In three career games against the Trojans, he has rushed for an average of 167 yards, including 224 last season in a 45-25 victory . . .
Stanford and California are only playing for the Axe, but it will be bitterly contested. It rarely means anything of cosmic significance when these two meet, but 42 games between them have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Their famous meetings encompass not only the unforgettable game of 1982, when Cal won on the multilateral touchdown return on a kickoff as time expired, but one in 1892 when team manager and future U.S. president Herbert Hoover forgot to bring the game ball . . .
For once, the Harvard-Yale game will mean something besides bragging rights among the insider trading community. For only the fourth time in Ivy League history, it represents the conference championship.One for the (Tobacco) Road
As long as Earle Bruce, fired this week by Ohio State despite an overall record of 80-26-1, is looking for work, he might keep an eye on North Carolina, where things look ominous for Dick Crum. This season the Tar Heels went from a ranked team to 5-5.
Crum contended he will return, and declined further comment at his weekly news conference, but reports from Chapel Hill are that he will coach his last game against Duke Saturday.
According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Crum told his team this would be his last game although he does not plan to resign. He is quoted as telling the players, "It's out of my hands."
In response to the reports, North Carolina Athletic Director John Swofford issued a statement today that Crum "will have the opportunity to fulfill his contract, unless he decides otherwise." Yellow Jackets in Straits
Georgia Tech has not beaten a Division I-A team all season, its only two victories coming over the Division I-AA Citadel and Indiana State. And it doesn't look encouraging for the Rambling Wreck, which has healthy Wake Forest (6-4) and then probably impossible Georgia left . . .
How disappointing is Maryland's 4-6 record with only Vanderbilt to go? The Terrapins are assured of their first losing season since 1981, but consider the competition. Four opponents were top 20 teams and six of them were at least considered for bowls: Syracuse, Clemson, Penn State, Miami, Virginia and Wake Forest . . .
Five Terrapins made the Atlantic Coast Conference all-academic list: wide receiver Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof, fullback Richard Shure, offensive tackle John Sorna, nose guard Bob Arnold and offensive tackle Ken Oberle. Abdur-Ra'oof also became Maryland's all-time leader in pass receptions by catching his 101st last week . . .
When Georgetown finished the season last week with a 6-2-1 record it represented the Hoyas' best year since the 7-1 campaign of '78. This year, Georgetown won its last five games, by an average of 15 points.