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Most memorable Nebraska football moments...... You realize this is an article that could go on forever, right? It could go on to the point that somebody could make a DVD and sell it. Oh, wait, someone already did. In fact, I included at least one play from it below.
January 1, 1994:
In the Orange Bowl, #1 Nebraska is a 17 point underdog to Bobby Bowden's Florida State squad. Nobody gives the Huskers any shot to win this game; most sportswriters wanted a rematch between the Seminoles and Notre Dame. But Nebraska hangs in their despite some of the worst officiating college football has seen. Phantom clips, missed fumbles...you name it. But Nebraska battles back and takes the lead with 1:16 left in the game...only to kick the ball off out of bounds. Add a few more penalties, and Florida State retakes the lead with a field goal with :20 left. But Tommie Frazier threads a pass to Trumane Bell who rumbles down the field for a 29 yard gain. The officials neglect to stop the clock, and Florida State starts to celebrate. But the officials huddle, realize this was one mistake too many, and put a second back on the clock. But Byron Bennett's field goal is a duck hook that sails left almost immediately; I collapse into my couch head first. I stay up for hours muttering "what if", making sure to stay up to watch Lee Corso and Craig James try to explain themselves on the late SportsCenter. The next day, I sleep in until about noon, and spend most of the day muttering and swearing as to what happened. So when Nebraska earned another Orange Bowl berth 11 months later, I made the decision that I had to be there... and off to Miami I went. No way I watch this one at home.
November 8, 1997
Late in the fourth quarter, Nebraska trails Missouri 38-31, and Missouri has the ball. We're sitting in the south end zone stands, and with three minutes remaining, I start putting my binoculars away and packing up my stuff. I want to be ready to make a quick exit to avoid any trouble. But the Blackshirts stiffen, and force a punt. I began telling my eventual wife and the rest of my family: "You've got to believe." Scott Frost gradually moves the Huskers back down the field, making clutch pass after clutch pass. I've pulled my binoculars out again, and I'm watching the action at the far end of the field...continually repeating the mantra "You've gotta believe." With seconds left, I watch Frost throw into the endzone, and watch the ball pop up into the air through my binoculars. Then insanity breaks out. I see Missouri fans rushing the field. I see Huskers starting to celebrate. Then I finally spot a referee with his hands signalling "Touchdown!" I yell "TOUCHDOWN!" Everybody else around me yells "WHAT?!?!" Then suddenly the band starts to play "Hail Varsity" and the Husker fans in the end zone begin to celebrate. I turn my attention to the Faurot Field jumbotron to find out what happens...but there is no replay. The extra point is good...and overtime ensues at the other end of the field.
After the game, we head out and decide to quickly get out of Columbia in case the natives are a little upset. A few words are spoken, but we get out of town without problems and head home. We listen to the Missouri postgame show on the radio, but nobody talks about the end of the game. After that, we start scanning the dial for sports stations, and as we change stations throughout the drive, we hear mentions about "that crazy end to the Nebraska-Missouri game"...but nobody talks about the play itself. We stop for gas and food in Kansas City, and we still don't even know who caught the pass. I get home about 1 am, and race to the kitchen because I know the late SportsCenter is on. Hopefully they'll have the highlights. Sure enough, it's the lead story...and for the first time, I finally see what happened after I lost sight of that ball.
September 18. 2004
I'm watching the Nebraska-Pitt game at home; it's Bill Callahan's first road game. Late in the first quarter on third and goal, Joe Dailey finds Mark LeFlore on a slant route, but he's stopped just short of the goal line, setting up fourth and goal at the six inch line. In disbelief, I watch Billy C send in Sandro DeAngelis and the field goal team. A field goal. From the (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) six inch line. I can't believe what this bozo Callahan is doing. A field goal. From the (expletive deleted) six inch line. Then the snap is botched, and Kellen Huston tries to scramble, throwing an awkward pass that's incomplete. NOW I'm worked up. I throw my remote into the couch. I unleash a string of obscenities that would have made a sailor blush. I yell at my wife that "f-bombing idiot Callahan tried a field goal from the six inch line, and this f-bombing coaching staff doesn't have them prepared to try an f-boming extra point" I'm jumping around the room, swearing and ranting like I'm completely insane. I can only wonder what my blood pressure reading would have been at that moment. That moment cemented my belief that Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan were a huge clusterfool, and that nothing good would come out of this change. The lack of faith in Callahan grew throughout that 5-6 season, leading me to start my blog "Blasphemy", where I would express my concerns about the direction of the Husker football program.
I've written about some memorable moments in my personal Nebraska football history, particularly about nearly getting killed while tearing down the goal posts after the 1982 win over Oklahoma, and then ten years later helping Iowa State students tear down their goal posts in their upset win. As a fan, my love for Husker football was solidified during the early 80s and my the time ‘92 rolled around, I was certifiably insane.
One story I don't believed I've told involves Tom Rathman. Rathman had a fumble near the goal line in some game. Wasn't that big a deal, but I remember the scramble for the ball. Later at a party, one of my buddies said something about Rathman, another buddy screamed "fumble!!!" and we all jumped on the guy that was talking about Rathman. It became a theme, a bizarre theme nonetheless, but whenever someone would say "Rathman" for any reason someone else would yell "FUMBLE!!!!" and we'll all dog pile the guy.
Well, one day before a game at one of our many beer breakfasts, one of our girl friends brings her new boyfriend over. She introduces him, and he's interested in making an impression. First thing he says is "So, how do you think Rathman will do today?" Sad thing was, he was standing below me as I was on our porch. I scream "FUMBLE!!!!" and dove on top the guy, knowing full well there'd be about five or six other guys jumping on top of him right after me. Poor SOB never knew what hit him. I wonder whatever happened to him.....
With regards to great moments in Nebraska football history, I'm sure Husker fans share a lot of the same great plays. The run by Tommie Frazier, made all the better by one of the greatest calls in Husker history - "How Many Tackles Can One Man Break!". Johnny Rodger's amazing punt return in the 1971 Game of the Century against Oklahoma, made better by Lyle Bremser's "Johnny the Jet Rodgers Just Tore ‘Em Lose from their shoes!". If you don't get chills up your spine from either of these plays, to be blunt I have to question your Husker fandom.
Then there are great hits. The 1978 Nebraska - Oklahoma game featured what's widely known as the biggest hit in Husker history, when Tom Ruud blasted Sooner Kelly Phelps during a kick return. Here's a video of the hit, taken from Best of Big Red's "Greatest Plays of the of the 20th Century".
Scott Frost is a great player that seems to be largely forgotten by Husker fans, despite winning a national title after the Flea Kicker against Missouri. Funny thing about Frost - for me his defining moment came as a blocker, destroying Texas A&M defensive back Shun Horn in the ‘97 Big 12 Championship game. It says volumes about the player Frost was, tough as nails.