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Five Games to Tell My Story of Nebraska Football

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Limiting it to five is difficult, but here’s giving it a try

Colorado v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Hat tip to Unsportsmanlike Conduct on 1620 the Zone AM for this idea. I was only in the car for a few minutes but I believe they also gave a hat tip to Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald. Shatel wrote an article in which asked the following question: If you wanted to explain the history of Nebraska football to somebody who didn’t know a thing about Nebraska football then what games would you pick?

Here is a link to Shatel’s article here.

In that article he had some other notable people pick their five games. From what I can tell most people were picking games that were in their wheel-house. That is, games from a specific period of time that they covered the sport.

Well I am relatively younger than those that Shatel polled. Essentially this list, including the ones from the article, tell that person’s personal Nebraska football story.

Here is my list which tells my Nebraska football story. It was extremely difficult to only pick five. I did my best.

1995 Fiesta Bowl 62 - 24 Blowout Over Florida

I think we all know what happened this night. I picked this over the 1994 Orange Bowl because it really illustrated how dominate Nebraska was for a great stretch of time.

The only other time teachers at my school stopped classes to pull up the television set was after 9/11.

At my school the teachers had us gather around the television to watch for the arrival of the football team coming off the plane. Then we watched the highlights. We all were looking forward to Tommie Frazier’s run.

This was about the time I came into my own as a fan. I expected this was pretty much how it was going to be forever.

1997 Orange Bowl 42 - 17 Win Over Tennessee

Scott Frost shows Peyton Manning who would be the better pro. Well no not really but it really showed who should have been the unanimous National Champion that season. It was such a dominating performance. It validated Scott Frost in the eyes of Nebraska fans as he got booed earlier in the season.

The fact this came against a future NFL Hall-of-Famer really cemented this as a huge part of Nebraska history. They didn’t win by a field goal or a last second touchdown. They embarrassed the Volunteers.

Only if we knew what was going to happen in 20 years.

2007 Oklahoma State 48 - 14 Blowout Win Over Nebraska at Memorial Stadium

First line of the AP article about this game:

With Tom Osborne and members of his undefeated 1997 Nebraska team watching, Bill Callahan’s current Cornhuskers took an historic beating.

It was brutal. It was also the first time I have ever left a game at half-time. I’ve sat through bad losses both before and since that game, but I felt at that time that there was no reason for me to sit through a game where it is obvious that the players, themselves, had given up.

I think this was the first time I had completely lost my optimistic hope. There were so many reasons sitting right in front of my face to have realized that this football program was in a terrible position.

We also knew that Bill Callahan was not going to be coaching at Nebraska any longer. Many fans had already come to that conclusion prior to this game, but this was the one that did it for me.

Luckily, we had Bo Pelini waiting in the wings to take over the program.

2009 Big 12 Championship Game - One Extra Second

What a wasted opportunity. An all-time national championship level defense that of course gets paired with a terrible offense.

We never would have known what would have happened if the officials never put that second back on the clock. Has there ever been a great explanation for the rationale? From what I can tell the clock went to zeroes right as the ball went out of bounds.

Regardless that was the opportunity for Nebraska to get back over the hump. Nebraska had a couple opportunities in conference championship games but couldn’t do it.

Those other ones never came so ruthlessly close as this one.

Bo Pelini probably gets a couple more years and maybe we never see the Mike Riley era. It is possible that Pelini still fails to adapt to the Big Ten, though he would have gotten more time to do so. We still had more success in conference with Pelini than we have had since.

It is extremely possible that 2018 would have come around and Scott Frost still comes home to be the head coach at Nebraska.

2018 Akron Rain Out Game - The Snowball Effect

What a nightmare.

There was so much optimism for the Scott Frost era to begin. Like an unprecedented amount of optimism. It was all destroyed by a storm. As we know, the game never happened. Also, because I don’t like to pay for parking I ended up walking all the way to my car in a downpour.

I’ve had better nights.

I stand by the thought process that the cancellation of that game had consequences that stretched through the rest of the season. You could argue that it has had a detrimental effect still to this day.

Nebraska started 0-6. I think if that game happened then Nebraska very likely could have started 5-2 with wins against Akron, Colorado, Troy, Purdue and Northwestern.

It didn’t.

However, it is a final piece of the story thus far to explain to somebody my story of Nebraska football.

It used to be great. Like all-time never to be seen before great.

Giants fall hard and Nebraska football was no exception.

The former giant started to get back up but couldn’t quite make it. It fell back down.

Then it tried to get back up again. It failed. Again.

Now we are hoping that we are gathering the strength to get back up again. Though at this point I don’t see much reason for any hope.

Maybe that will change.


Other notable ones for me

1994 Orange Bowl: Coach Osborne Finally Did It

1998 Texas at Nebraska: The Ricky Williams Game

2001 Oklahoma at Nebraska: Eric Crouch Touchdown Catch

2001 Nebraska at Colorado: 36 - 62

2001 Nebraska and Miami Rose Bowl: 14 - 37

2004 Nebraska at Texas Tech: 70 - 10

2010 Texas at Nebraska: 20 - 13

2010 Nebraska Oklahoma Big 12 Championship Game: 20 - 23

2012 Nebraska Wisconsin Big 10 Championship Game: 31 - 70

2017 Nebraska at Iowa: 14 - 56

2018 Michigan State at Nebraska: 9 - 6

I am sure I am missing several.