10 Little-Known Facts About Nebraska Football
Nebraska fans are some pretty smart cookies. They can tell you pretty much anything you want to know (and some you probably don't) about Husker football.
They know about the sell-out streak. They know about the Academic All-Americans. They know about the nine-win seasons from 1968-2002. They know about the 35 straight bowl appearances. It's difficult to stump a Husker fan.
However, if you want to try, here are 10 tidbits about Nebraska football.
Nebraska Has a Losing Record Against Five Big Ten Teams
For all of Nebraska's success on the field over the years, it's hard to believe they have a losing record against any teams. The Huskers have a losing record to 17 teams in all, and five of them hail from their current conference.
Ohio State and Michigan are both there. The Buckeyes are 2-1 versus the Huskers, and the Wolverines own a 4-2-1 advantage over Nebraska. You might be surprised at the other three schools.
Nebraska owns the series advantage over schools like Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa. In most cases, it hasn't been close. The Spartans have never beaten the Huskers, and Nebraska is 28-12-2 versus Iowa.
Current Big Ten doormats Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue own series leads over Nebraska. Minnesota leads the Huskers 29-21-2, the Hoosiers lead the series 9-7-1, and Purdue won their only meeting with Nebraska, 28-0.
It's important to note the last time the Gophers, Hoosiers and Boilermakers beat Nebraska. For Minnesota, it was 1960. Nebraska has won 15 straight. Indiana last beat the Huskers in 1959. Nebraska has won four straight, and the two haven't met since 1978. Purdue won the only meeting of the two schools in 1958.
Nebraska Has More Conference Championships Than Any Big Ten Team
Ask a Nebraska football fan how many conference championships the Huskers have, and they'll usually be able to tell you 43 in a heartbeat. They'll also be able to lament about the current drought, not having seen the scarlet and cream hoist a championship trophy of any kind since 1999.
What they won't be able to tell you is their beloved Huskers have more conference championships than any team in the Big Ten. Michigan's 42 and Ohio State's 35 are close, but the list drops off dramatically after the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
The Huskers have more conference championships than Wisconsin, Purdue, Penn State (although in fairness they only became a member in 1993), Northwestern, Michigan State and Indiana combined (41).
Nebraska Once Allowed Only 5 Punt Returns in a Season
During a time when punters are at a premium, how would you like to have a booming leg but never have to use it? Well, that was the life for Nebraska sophomore punter Jesse Kosch in 1995.
While setting the NCAA record for averaging seven yards per rush, Nebraska also set the NCAA record for, and I quote, "Fewest punt returns allowed, season."
By the way, of those five punts returned, the opposing team gained a total of 12 yards.
Nebraska Has Been Shut out Just Two Times in the Last 477 Games
We all knew Nebraska could score. Well, we pretty much thought that, even into the 2009 season in which it seemed punter/kicker/Husker hero Alex Henery spent more time on the field than the offense. It is true, though. The Huskers have been shut out just twice since 1974.
They were shut out 22-0 by Miami in the 1992 Orange Bowl and at Arizona State, 16-0, in September 1996. They have scored at least three points (that being the minimum vs. Oklahoma in a 30-3 loss in 2004) in every other game.
It's also important to note that Nebraska has not been shut out at home since 1968—a string of 277 games. I've looked at the 2012 schedule, and I don't foresee any shutouts upcoming anytime soon.
Tommie Frazier Never Rushed for 1,000 Yards in a Season
Well, that's hard to believe, right? Touchdown Tommie, Nebraska legend, never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season? That's just incredibly hard to believe. Well believe it, folks. His highest total was 704 yards in 1993.
It's interesting that he only rushed for 604 yards in 1995. Wasn't that the team that set the NCAA record for rushing yards per attempt? Yep. Tommie gained those yards on 97 attempts, which put him at 6.2 yards per carry on the dominant 1995 team.
Frazier totaled 1,955 yards on 342 attempts at Nebraska, which would have been higher had he played the entire 1994 campaign.
He also had more touchdowns through the air (43) than on the ground (36). Oh and for all of you out there that thought Nebraska quarterbacks of the past couldn't throw?
Frazier threw for 3,521 yards, 43 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. That's not bad.
Nebraska Handed Nick Saban His Worst Defeat as Head Coach
Alright, so Saban wasn't coaching Alabama. It probably wouldn't have mattered, though, as the coach of the 2011 national champions was unable to get anything going offensively or defensively in a 50-10 Nebraska victory over Saban's Michigan State Spartans on September 9, 1995.
Lawrence Phillips ran for 206 yards and four scores, including one 50-yard score off a direct snap, and Nebraska outgained Michigan State 552-45 on the ground.
The Nebraska defense helped, too. The Blackshirts recorded three sacks, had two fumble recoveries and forced one interception. Nebraska scored at will and kept the Spartans on their side of the 50 most of the game.
Nebraska Has Had 11 Undefeated Football Seasons
Almost any Nebraska fan can tell you that Nebraska was undefeated in 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995 and 1997. Those are, after all, the years the Cornhuskers won the national championship.
However, if you press a follower of the Big Red further, they will have difficulty coming up with a list of any other teams. As it turns out, there are six more Husker teams that didn't lose a game.
1890; In their inaugural season, the Cornhuskers (known only as Lincoln at the time) went 2-0. They also didn't allow a single point.
1902; Twelve years after their first undefeated season, Nebraska went 9-0. It was another season they didn't allow a single point, as they outscored their opponents 152-0.
1903; Nebraska has had a knack of posting back-to-back undefeated seasons, and 1903 was no exception. After defeating future Big Ten foes Minnesota and Northwestern in 1902, the Huskers beat Iowa and Illinois in 1903. The defense did give up 11 points throughout the season (six to Iowa and five to Know), but the offense was better (outscored opponents 268-11).
1913; After waiting 10 years after what was arguably the best Cornhusker team to ever take the field, the 1913 version of the Big Red went 8-0, playing six of their eight games in Lincoln.
1914; This version of the Cornhuskers was better than the one that preceded it in 1913. Five of their seven wins were by more than 10 points as they finished 7-0-1.
1915; This is a rare feat in college football. Many football teams don't finish a season without a single blemish on their record. Even fewer do it in back-to-back seasons.
It would be an incredibly difficult challenge to find a team that wins every game for three straight years. Nebraska did it from 1913-1915. The 1915 version of the Cornhuskers, who finished 8-0, outscored their opponents 282-39.
1970; It took them from 1915-1970 to have another undefeated team, but this team brought home something no other team had—a national championship. They finished the season 11-0-1.
1971; The 1971 Cornhuskers are considered by some to be the best in the history of college football. They outscored opponents 507-104, won the "Game of the Century" vs. No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 in Norman and blasted Alabama 38-6 for the national championship to finish 13-0.
1994; After barely missing out on perfection in 1993, the 1994 Cornhuskers "Finished the Business." With a suffocating defense and punishing ground game, Nebraska finished 13-0 and brought coach Tom Osborne his first national championship.
1995; They set the record for rushing yards in a game, didn't allow a sack on quarterback Tommie Frazier all season, won every game by at least 14 points and set the NCAA record for rushing yards per attempt in a brilliant 12-0 campaign that's considered to be the most dominant team in the history of college football.
1997; In coach Tom Osborne's final season, Nebraska survived a game Missouri squad, throttled Texas A&M to win the Big 12 championship and thoroughly demolished Peyton Manning's Tennessee Volunteers to finish 13-0 and win the last of Nebraska's five national championships.
Tommie Frazier Was Never Sacked in 1995
During a brilliant 1995 campaign in which the Cornhuskers went 12-0 and dismissed the thought of anybody else hoisting the national championship trophy by trouncing Florida 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl, people tended to forget about the little things. Well, the little things are what make up a great college football team.
On 163 attempts, of which 93 were caught, Frazier was never once sacked.
It's important to note that he was tackled for loss while running the football more than once, but his quick thinking and overall athletic ability, along with the offensive line in front of him, kept Frazier on his feet during every two-, five- and seven-yard drop.
Nebraska Has the Nation's Best Winning Percentage Since 1960
This one isn't all that hard to believe. After all, Nebraska won at least nine games every year from 1969-2001, won five national championships, played for more than a few more and has an NCAA record for wins in a five-year span, going 60-3 from 1993-1997.
Over a 52-year span from 1960-2011, the Cornhuskers have a record of 487-138-6, which turns into a winning percentage of 0.776. They also played 631 games, almost 20 more than old-rival Oklahoma. Their 487 games won are also almost 40 more than any other team in college football.
Boise State doesn't qualify because they started playing FBS football in 1996, but their winning percentage is .774. We'll give them a few years (and maybe a better conference) to see if they can sustain their success.
Sitting behind the Huskers are Ohio State (.758), Penn State (.738), Alabama (.73471), Oklahoma (.73420), Texas (.729), Michigan (.723), Southern Cal (.713) and Florida (.691).
No Coach Had as Many Wins in 25 Years as Tom Osborne
Tom Osborne is about as an iconic coach as you can find. His name resonates with people all over the state of Nebraska, but it doesn't just stop there. His name is recognized from Denver to Happy Valley, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Houston. He hasn't coached since 1997, but his record precedes him wherever he goes.
In 1973, Tom Osborne took over the reins of a team coming off national championships in 1970 and 1971. They were used to winning. The young red-headed coach didn't let down his team or the fans of the Big Red.
Nebraska won nine games every season Osborne was coach. Three of his teams (1994, 1995, 1997) went undefeated. All three won the national championship. Three others (1982, 1983, 1993) lost only a single game.
From 1993-1997, Osborne's teams had a combined record of 60-3—an NCAA record over five seasons.
From 1980-1997, teams coached by the unflappable Osborne finished 190-31-1. That is also an NCAA record.
During his tenure, it seemed as though Nebraska spent more time in the Orange Bowl than home-team Miami. Eleven of his teams were invited to Miami's premier bowl game. They also spent plenty of time in Tempe, Arizona, at the Fiesta Bowl and in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the Sugar Bowl.
Since Osborne's retirement at the end of the 1997 season, Nebraska has not been invited back to Miami. They have been to the Fiesta Bowl once—winning it in 1999.
At the time of his retirement, Tom Osborne had compiled a coaching record of 255-49-3, giving him a winning percentage of .836. No coach has coached for 25 years and been close to that record.