Nothing beats the glory years
Some people have said that New England’s comeback win over Atlanta in the Super Bowl was the greatest ever. I say perhaps, but it sure would have been nice, or rather fair, to give the Falcon offense their turn to try to either tie it back up, or even go for the win. But that’s for another day, another column.
Since then, I’ve seen lists ranking the greatest Super Bowls played, so I started thinking about the greatest Husker football games played in Lincoln, ones I’ve seen in person.
So I made a list.
At number one, no doubt, is the Huskers’ improbable win over Barry Switzer’s 1978 Sooner team that came to Lincoln undefeated and ranked No. 1. A Billy Sims fourth quarter fumble at the Nebraska 2-yard line after a jarring hit, and Jim Pillen’s recovery enabled the Huskers to run out the clock. Billy Todd’s fourth quarter field goal from 24 yards out was the difference. Tom Sorley quarterbacked the Huskers, and the Blackshirt defense smacked the Sooners around all game long. To this day, it’s still the loudest I’ve ever heard Memorial Stadium. I was sitting in the student section and we all went nuts.
Number two is Tom Osborne’s first game as head coach, the ‘73 season opener against UCLA. The Huskers dominated 40-13 as sophomore Tony Davis ran for 147 in his debut. Backup quarterback Steve Runty led Nebraska, and TV actor Mark Harmon was the Bruin quarterback. A dominant performance.
Number three would be in 2008 when I was taking pictures on the sidelines, the 40-31 win over Colorado, the Alex Henery 57-yard field goal game. That boot came with just 1:43 remaining, then Ndamukong Suh intercepted a pass and returned it right past me 30 yards for a touchdown, spiking the ball against the end zone fence without a penalty. I can proudly say I was the first media person to talk to Alex walking off the field. It was a crazy scene.
Number four would be Nebraska’s 31-24 win over Bear Bryant and Alabama in 1977. I.M. Hipp and Rick Berns at I-back, the game tied at 24 in the final stanza before Berns scored on a one-yard run with 7:12 remaining. This game was magical and featured lots of big plays.
At number five is the 2015 contest when NU beat No. 6 and undefeated Michigan State in November 39-38, winning on Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s 30-yard pass to Brandon Reilly with 17 seconds remaining. The replay looked like Reilly went out of bounds, but it was determined that he was pushed out, so the score held. There was dancing on the field, on the bench and in the stands. It was quite a scene.
Number six might be a surprise, but it’s from 2007 when Nebraska beat K-State 73-31, the game when junior Joe Ganz threw for a school record 510 yards. The Huskers featured Marlon Lucky at running back and had over 700 total yards. An amazing performance from Ganz and the receivers and certainly unexpected.
Number seven is the 2005 game when the Huskers beat Kansas State 27-25, as freshman Jordan Congdon kicked a 40-yard field goal with just 1:05 left to go. Cory Ross was the running back and Bill Callahan, that crazy guy, burned true freshman quarterback Harrison Beck’s redshirt in the final quarter, in November, engineering the 55-yard game winning scoring drive, subbing for an injured Zac Taylor. Jordy Nelson, now with the Packers, was a K-State receiver.
In the eighth spot I’ve got the 2000 game when NU beat Colorado 34-32, Josh Brown kicking a 29-yard field goal as time expired. Husker players jumped up onto the guard rails in the south end zone to celebrate with fans. Eric Crouch hit Bobby Newcombe on a 17 yard pass with 10 seconds remaining to the CU 12 to set up the winning points. Great ending. Pretty magical. Pressure kick.
In the ninth spot I’ve got NU’s 41-31 win over Miami in 2014, at night, in front of a rowdy Memorial Stadium crowd. Husker fans wanted blood and they got it as Ameer Abdullah ran for 229 yards and couldn’t be stopped. The officials had their hands full with numerous near fights. It was fun seeing Miami finally play a game in Lincoln. An electric atmosphere.
At number 10 is the 2011 game when the Huskers beat Ohio State 34-27 on a cool, rainy evening. Rex Burkhead scored the winning touchdown from 17 yards out with 5:10 remaining. Nebraska had to overcome a 21-point deficit, Taylor Martinez leading the way. Sophomore Andrew Rodriguez from Aurora started the game at left guard.
So that’s it. My top 10. Great memories, great games and some really great players.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org