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1979 Orange Bowl
Bowl Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Nebraska 7 0 3 14 24
Oklahoma 7 7 17 0 31
Date January 1, 1979
Season 1978
Stadium Miami Orange Bowl
Location Miami, Florida
Orange Bowl
 < 1978  1980

The 1979 edition of the Orange Bowl featured the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Oklahoma Sooners.

This matchup was something of an anomaly, as it featured a rare rematch of two conference foes that had already played during the regular season. Nebraska had upset #1 ranked Oklahoma 17-14 on Nov. 11 in Lincoln, and appeared headed towards a national championship showdown with Penn State. But unranked Missouri then stunned the #2 ranked Huskers 35-31 the following week, dropping the Huskers into a tie with Oklahoma for the Big 8 championship and knocking them out of the national championship picture.

Penn State instead faced Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and the Orange Bowl found itself with a selection dilemma. Nebraska had earned an Orange Bowl berth by virtue of its tie-breaking victory over the Sooners, but, in order to create the best possible matchup, the Orange Bowl committee decided to set up a rematch with Oklahoma, a decision that was (and is) widely unpopular with Nebraskans to this day.

Nebraska scored first on a 21 yard touchdown pass from Tom Sorley to Tim Smith giving Nebraska a 7-0 lead. Oklahoma tied the score on a 3-yard scamper by Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims, and then went ahead when Thomas Lott scored on a 3 yard touchdown run to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room.

The revenge-minded Sooners then took control. In the third quarter, Sims scored his second TD on an 11 yard touchdown run. Both sides traded field goals, before Lott scored on a 2 yard touchdown run which blew the score out to 31-10.

Nebraska rallied late, with Rick Berns scoring on a 1 yard touchdown run, and then Sorley threw a 2-yard strike to Junior Miller, but by then the game had ticked down to its final seconds, as OU prevailed 31-24, to finish the season 11-1, avenging its only loss of the 1978 season. Nebraska finished 9-3.

This game could also be something of a precursor to the modern day Big 12 Championship Game, since the game also broke the tie in the Big 8 standings in a sense. If this game were counted in the 1978 Big 8 standings, Oklahoma would stand alone at the top with a 7-1 conference record. The two teams would meet in the 2006 edition of the game.

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