The Bumper Crop

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eb47287325f544e537c60ee2b0debf95.image.550x415.jpg

The Bumper Crop

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The 1994 National Champions, the Nebraska Cornhuskers

It had been twenty-three years since Nebraska had won a national championship. That was under Coach Bob Devaney in 1971. Nebraska had been close many times under Tom Osborne, but never had been able to win it all. After the 22-0 loss to the University of Miami in the 1992 Orange Bowl, Osborne began to plant some new seeds into his football program.

Coach Osborne began recruiting some quicker, more athletic type players. One of these players, linebacker Ed Stewart, ranked fourth in the nation in speed prior to the Jan. 1, 1995 Orange Bowl. This would help account for the fact that Nebraska's defense sacked Miami's quarterback, Frank Costa, five times during the same night.

However, even with all of these positive statistics, in the fourth quarter on a beautiful Sunday night and before a national TV audience at Miami's Orange Bowl, Nebraska was losing to the Hurricanes 17-9. Nebraska's best ever offensive line was on the field. They were playing with their young quarterback, Tommy Frazier, who had not played since Sept. 25, 1994, due to a blood clot found in his leg. Then, suddenly during the fourth quarter, Nebraska seemed determined to finish the business for which they has traveled to the Sunshine State. This gutsy determination allowed them to score two fourth quarter touchdowns. The Cornhuskers seemed to begin to wear out the Hurricanes. Sophomore I-back, Lawrence Phillips, started their first drive with a 25-yard gain. Then a hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through was opened by Outland Trophy winner, Zach Wiegert. Corey Schlesinger responded and slipped through to gain 15 yards and a touchdown. A final drive engineered by Frazier went for 58 yards, and Schlesinger once again found the end zone on a 14-yard final score. Nebraska was ahead to stay 24-17.

In 1992, Tom Osborne and his staff began sowing some excellent athletes into the Nebraska program. Those changes, and some sheer determination, produced a “Bumper Crop” that paid off big as Nebraska defeated number three ranked Miami 24-17 in the 1995 Orange Bowl, and won its third national championship.