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Big Ten Countdown: #80 - A New Beginning

A new beginning? Some great Husker legend started in 1980? 

Nah, it's a story about me. You guys know how much I like to talk about myself, and this is the perfect opportunity.

1980 was my first year at Nebraska, the first of seven years I spent getting a four-year degree. John Belushi had nothing on me. 

My first weekend in college was the one and only experience with Yukon Jack I've ever had. As far as bad alcohol experiences go, it wasn't that bad, I just told myself I never wanted to have anything to do with Jack again. (Before you ask, I never had anything to do with that other Jack either.)

I did possibly the dumbest thing an immature, foolish freshman can do. My first semester I signed up for a chemistry lab on Saturday morning. Seriously, I did that. I think it was at 9:00 am or something like that, a two-hour lab. I always made it (and I passed Chem 109), but I wasn't always in a chemistry frame of mind.

"Hey, you with the hangover, put your goggles on".

Titration. Remember titration? I do. Hated it. Took me forever. I was always the last one done.  The morning of the Oklahoma game, the lab assistant did my lab with me because he's like "Jon, we gotta get this done and get the hell out of here."

I didn't make it to Memorial before Jarvis Redwine had already ripped off an 89-yard touchdown. Things looked good early, as Nebraska took a ten-point lead. Then Oklahoma scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-10 halftime lead.

With 3:16 left, Jeff Quinn scores, but it's not over. No, J.C. Watts and Buster Rhymes get the ball at the 20, and they march 80 yards down the field, including one play in which Rhymes goes 43 yards off an option pitch. He conjures up "Sooner Magic" - which for me really meant "he conjured up Satan" and scores the game-winner by diving over the top from the one-yard line. 

Final: #9 Oklahoma 21, #4 Nebraska 17

Just another year it seemed.

That wasn't the game I remember most about 1980, though. No, that was the Florida State game.  Before that game, we're talking amongst each other about the Seminoles - how we're going to kill them because we just killed Iowa 57-0, and beat Penn State 21-7 at Beaver Stadium.

Who's Florida State, anyway? Don't they suck?

They had some up-and-coming coach, some guy named Bobby Bowden. We'll kick Bowden's ass back to Florida, that's what we'll do. Nobody beats the Huskers in Lincoln, nobody (disclaimer: except those Satan-worshipping bastards from Oklahoma, of course).

That's not what happens, though.

Things looked good in the first half, with a 14-3 lead, Jeff Quinn hitting Todd Brown for two touchdown passes. In the second half, the Husker offense can do nothing. Nothing except turn the ball over and give the Seminoles scoring opportunities.

At the end of the game, Jeff Quinn gets the offense together, takes the ball all the way down to the three-yard line with about 20 seconds left and it looks like Nebraska is going to win. Then Quinn gets hit by this guy that comes out of nowhere on the right side, drops the ball, and a Seminole player pounces on it.

Game over. Florida State wins in Lincoln 18-14.

We're standing there in shock. And then it happens. Everyone begins to clap. This wasn't one of those (sometimes patronizing) standing ovations that happen in the corner where the other team files out, it was the whole stadium congratulating Florida State and that up-and-comer guy on a great win.

Years later, Bowden would use that day as an example of what it really means to be a college football fan. That day, the stadium was really full of the Greatest Fans in College Football.