Nebraska football went on a five-year run from 1993-1997 that resulted in a 60–3 record and three Nebraska national titles. Those are the years Nebraska fans think of when we think of “The 90s”.
Before that, Tom Osborne’s teams were very good, but they weren’t great.
In 1990, Nebraska went 11-2, won the Big Eight, then got blasted in the Orange Bowl by Georgia Tech 45-21. Our beloved Huskers finished #6.
In 1991, Nebraska went 11-1, but lost the 1992 Orange Bowl 22-0 to the Miami Hurricanes. It was Nebraska’s first and only shutout in a bowl game, and the first shutout since 1973. It was embarrassing. It was the 5th straight loss in a bowl, a streak which would extend to 7.
In 1992, Nebraska finished 10-2, winning the Big 8 conference again, and headed to the Orange Bowl (again) to face Florida State. Nebraska entered that game a 21-point underdog. They lost 18-16 in a game that should be remembered as a classic, but isn’t because of one-sided officiating.
Nebraska fans were upset with Osborne. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) said he “couldn’t win the big one”.
“Why does Tom Osborne eat his cereal on a plate?”
“Because if it were in a bowl he’d lose it”, was the running joke at the time.
But something had changed against FSU in the 1993 Orange Bowl. Something that set up the run Husker fans hold dear.
Our beloved Huskers under Tom Osborne were always good. What made them great?
That information is contain in a pair of books written by Paul Koch, who was a member of the strength of the conditioning staff from 1987 to 1995. Paul assembled around 890,000 words of interviews from players, coaches, and staff that included basically everyone not named Tommy. Paul published these books together in 2013.
I don’t believe most husker fans are aware of Paul’s books, otherwise we would have more conversations about The Pit. No one I know has it ever mentioned The Girthing, nor does anyone talk about how Charlie McBride used to carry a board with two nail sticking out of it that he would whack players with when they screwed up.
Explanations for all of these are included in Paul’s book, along with recollections of events that were key in moving Nebraska football from good to great to legendary.
Links to Paul’s Books:
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