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Big Ten Countdown: 62 - Bob Devaney Saves Nebraska Football, Minnesota's Last Rose Bowl

Bill "Thunder" Thorton - a member of Bob Devaney's first team in 1962. Photo Courtesy of
Bill "Thunder" Thorton - a member of Bob Devaney's first team in 1962. Photo Courtesy of

1962 started as a good season for the Big Ten as Minnesota bashed UCLA 21-3 in the Rose Bowl. The 1961 team was coached by Murray Warmath, who was the head man for the Golden Gophers from 1954-1971. Warmath won the national title in 1960 and took the Gophers to the Rose Bowl in 1961 and 1962. The Gophers would finish the season ranked #6 in both polls. Sandy Stepens became the first black All-American quarterback. Tackle Bobby Bell would earn All-American honors and go on to play in the NFL, later earning a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame. Stephens would be drafted in the NFL and AFL, but both leagues refused to play him as a quarterback, so Stephens instead chose to play in the Canadian Football League.

1962 would prove to be the last Rose Bowl for Minnesota, the longest stretch of any Big Ten team - including Nebraska who last played in the Rose Bowl in 2001, losing to national champion Miami.

What Husker fans remember most about 1962 is that it was the year that Bob Devaney arrived at Nebraska.

Devaney took over for Bill Jennings, a man perhaps best know for uttering the most short-sighted statement in Husker History:

There is an intense desire to do something good in this state, like elect a President or gain prominence in politics. But we can't feed the ego of the state of Nebraska with the football team.

Devaney would prove Jennings wrong in his first season, going 9-2 with a win over Michigan and losses to Missouri and Oklahoma (shocking, right?). The season would end with a bowl 36-34 win over Miami (FL) in the ill-fated Gotham Bowl.

Notable names from that 1962 team include fullback Bill "Thunder" Thorton and tackle Bob Brown. Thorton was Nebraska's first black captain and played fullback in his final season. Brown played guard at Nebraska, and would become an All-American in 1963 as Bob Devaney and the Cornhuskers won the Big Eight, the first conference title since 1940. Brown would play in the NFL and became a member of the NFL Hall of Fame in 2004. His #64 is one of only two permanently retired numbers at Nebraska. 

1962 marked the beginning of one of the most amazing streaks in all sports - Nebraska's consecutive sell-outs. It began on November 3, 1962, with an attendance of 36,501 fans. It started with a loss to Missouri.

Other memorable (or not) 62's: 

1996 - #1 Nebraska mashes #2 Florida 62-24 in the most lopsided big game in college football history. Do I have to say much more about this game? 

2008 - Oklahoma scores 35 points in the first quarter, rolling to a 62-28 crushing of Nebraska in 2008, Bo Pelini's first season. That's one we'd all rather forget. I can't bring myself to mention that other loss in which some opposing team scored 62 points against us. 

Got any 62's you care to remember?