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Big Ten Countdown 73: Ohio State - Michigan Controversy And Osborne Begins

We're continuing our countdown 'til Nebraska officially joins the Big Ten on July 1st, 2011...

Two very memorable things happen in 1973, the first of which of the utmost importance to Husker fans. 

1973 marked Tom Osborne's first year as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Bob Devaney stepped down to become athletic director, promoting his offensive coordinator to the head football position. To say that Osborne "took care" of the program is an understatement. 

In the Big Ten Conference, 1973 would mark one of the biggest controversies in conference history. 

More after the jump...

In 1973, the battle between Woody Hayes at Ohio State and Bo Schembechler reached perhaps its highest point. Both teams were undefeated coming into the annual rivalry game, with the Buckeyes ranked #1 and the Wolverines ranked #4. 

The game was hard fought and played to a 10-10 tie, leaving the teams tied for the conference title. By league rule, a vote of the conference athletic directors was taken to determine which team would go to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State won the vote 6-4. Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, and Michigan State and Wisconsin voted along with Ohio State. It was implied that Michigan State voted with the Buckeyes to get back at Michigan for voting against them joining the Big Ten in 1949 (and people tell Nebraskans to get over that last second in the Big 12 title game against Texas. Ha!). 

Michigan's Bo Schembechler was upset (understatement) about the vote and bitter about it until his death in 2006. The feeling was that the Big Ten voted against Michigan since Wolverine quarterback Dennis Franklin had broken his collarbone near the end of the Big Game and the Big Ten didn't want to lose yet another Rose Bowl after having lost four in a row. 

To be fair, the Michigan argument ignores the fact that Ohio State was the higher-ranked team most of the season and that they had tied their biggest rival on the road. 

Oklahoma was put on probation (gasp!) with no bowl in 1973 or 1974 and no television in 1974 or 1975. 

As for Tom Osborne and his Nebraska Cornhuskers - they would start the season ranked at #2, then be upset on October 13, 1973 by the Missouri Tigers. Nebraska dropped to #11 and was #10 when they were soundly beaten 27-0 by the Oklahoma Sooners. The Selmon brothers - Lucious, Lee Roy, and Dewey - were part of a defense that held the Huskers to 74 yards rushing. Nebraska crossed midfield only once, but a fumble on a pass play kept them from ever snapping the ball on Oklahoma's side of the field. 

Nebraska would finish the '73 season beating Texas 19-3 in the Cotton Bowl to earn a #7 ranking. 

As for Osborne, the rest of the story was one of a hall of fame coach who continues to contribute to the University of Nebraska to this day.