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Big Ten Countdown: 70 - The first National Title

National Titles
National Titles

The Grantland Rice Award is what we have in our trophy case for the 1970/71 titles. If you click on that link, you'll notice that we did not win that title in 1997, Michigan did. Our 1994 Grantland Rice Award is shown below along with The Associated Press NC trophy.  We won two from the writers that year.  Weird.

So in 1970, we had just won our first National Title. As great is it must have been, this season seems to get lost in the shuffle due to the 1971 team and the Game of the Century. Well, let's do a quick review of that season.

1994 AP and Grantland Rice Trophies


In 1970, Nebraska didn't actually win every game. They tied USC in Los Angeles. Of course the Trojans were ranked #3 at the time and we were #9, but it's still a blemish. The other three non-conference games that year were wins against Wake Forest (36-12), Army (28-0), and at Minnesota (35-10). The Big 8 schedule wasn't too terrible that year.

The Missouri game was somewhat close (21-7) and the Huskers had to come from behind a couple times against Oklahoma (28-21), but they ended the regular season 10-0-1. Back then there were two voting polls. The AP voted for their National Champion after the bowls and the UPI poll voted before the bowls. After the regular season was over, Texas was chosen as the UPI national champion, but they would end up losing the cotton bowl game against Notre Dame. Ohio State was rated No. 2 going into the bowls but ended up losing to Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska was rated No.3 and drew LSU in the Orange Bowl.

It wasn't a sexy win, but 17-12 gave Nebraska the Orange Bowl win. The final No.1 ranking drew some controversy. Notre Dame lobbied hard for No.1 because they had beaten No.1 Texas, but they had lost to USC at the end of the regular season. Nebraska's only blemish was a tie to the same USC team.

"I was afraid Ara’s comments might influence the voters, but I guess the writers are too smart to take some coach’s word,’’ Cornhusker Coach Bob Devaney said. "The writers knew who was best.’’ - Bob Devaney

Not to worry, though. Nebraska and Notre Dame would get to settle in up the 1973 Orange Bowl. It went alright for the Huskers. In case you have trouble reading it, it says 40-6.