Osborne happier about team' play than return to top of the polls

(c) Copyright the News & Observer Publishing Co. and The Associated Press, 1994

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Yes, a top ranking puts Nebraska in good position to win the national title.

But Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne has another agenda. He wants his team play up to its potential every week, much like it did Saturday in the 24-7 victory over No. 7 Colorado.

The victory vaulted Nebraska to No. 1 in this week's AP poll.

"The most important thing to me is our team play well and I feel good about how our team plays," Osborne said Sunday in a telephone interview from Lincoln. "That's the honest truth.

"There are some people who want the brass ring and for heaven's sake, don't ever get the opinion that we're not doing every single thing we can here to play well, which is ultimately the bottom line. That's all we can control.

"I will not lobby. I will not prostrate myself to the polls. All we want to do is play well. If people think we deserve to be No. 1, great. If not, then we've done all we can."

After a review of game films from Saturday, Osborne said his team did all it could to beat the Buffaloes, who entered the game 7-0 and ranked second.

"After looking at the film I don't have any real different perceptions than what I had earlier," he said. 'I thought our defense played a great game. Offensively, for about three quarters we played well."

Osborne said there were only two real mistakes in the second half.

Quarterback Brook Berringer making a error in reading pass coverage, leading to an interception.

Berringer audibled into an option that I-back Lawrence Phillips failed to hear. A pitch to Phillips was fumbled for a big loss that prevented the sophomore running back from extending his string of eight straight 100-yard rushing games.

Beyond that, the kicking game provided great field position all afternoon. But the defense made the biggest impact on the head coach.

The Husker Black Shirts are playing at a level par to the best Osborne has ever had.

"For the last four games it's played certainly right at that level," he said. "In 1984, we had a great defensive team. I think last year down the stretch, we developed into a very, very good defensive team.

"Last year's team and this year's team kind of parallel each other in that we seem to get better as we go along on defense. At any rate, through a stretch of four games they certainly have played very, very well."