Husker Historian Connects Black to UCLA

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Rick Duval and Mike Corgan flank Tom Osborne after win No. 1.Omaha W-H

By Randy York

Leave it to a Nebraska die-hard to connect two major stories to each other this week – the public unveiling of Nebraska’s black alternative uniforms to Tom Osborne’s last day as a paid employee for the Nebraska Athletic Department.

“Given the rich history of the Nebraska-UCLA football series in Lincoln over the past 40 years, it seems only appropriate to me that all Husker players sport a black jersey when the Bruins come to town September 14th,” said Kevin Horn, the hard-working announcer for KCOW Radio in Alliance, Neb., an affiliate of the Husker Sports Network. True to his nature, Horn doesn’t just make a statement, thinking it can stand on its own merits. He digs deep into his arsenal and comes up with the following facts:

40 years ago – September 8, 1973:   Nebraska 40, UCLA 13.  Tom Osborne wins his first game as head coach of the Cornhuskers.

 

30 years ago – September 24, 1983:  Nebraska 42, UCLA 10. Osborne wins his 100th game as the Big Red’s head coach and Mike Rozier secures the Heisman Trophy with his famous 50-yard touchdown run even though the line of scrimmage was at the UCLA five-yard line. Man, Woman, and Child could be heard on radios all across the United States.

26 years ago – September 12, 1987:  Nebraska 42, UCLA 33.  The #2 Huskers beat the #3 Bruins via Steve Taylor’s five touchdown passes. The Blackshirts hold UCLA’s Troy Aikman to 211 yards passing in front of Memorial Stadium’s 150th consecutive sellout.

19 years ago – September 17, 1994:  Nebraska 49, UCLA 21. On its way to Osborne’s first national championship, NU rambles for 555 yards in total offense. The game also marked the unveiling of HuskerVision screens and the Tunnel Walk, still a Big Red Game Day staple.

September 14, 2013:  This is the only NU-UCLA game Horn has to envision in his head instead of see in his rear-view mirror. He has no issues imagining the Huskers wearing black jerseys and rolling to another victory while scoring at least 40 points. UCLA football at Nebraska!” he said. “Let the rich history continue!” 

The N-Sider was so intrigued with Horn’s thinking, not to mention his compelling evidence, that we asked him to take us back to Osborne’s mastery of UCLA in those first two historic wins via the voice of the legendary Lyell Bremser. Sure enough, Horn came through, offering up a 6-minute audio highlight from Osborne’s first game as a head coach in 1973 and another highlight tape from his 100th win 10 years later.

The ‘73 tape mentions such names as Steve Runty, Tony Davis, Rik Bonness, Maury Damkroger, Frosty Anderson, Marv Crenshaw, Ritch Bahe, Ralph Powell and Brent Longwell. They were all contributors to a trademark 80-yard Nebraska touchdown drive that chewed up the first eight minutes of the third quarter to give the Huskers a 26-13 lead. The 1983 tape is even more compelling for two reasons: 1) It begins with an explosive Turner Gill-to-Irving Fryar pass completion; and 2) It ends with Mike Rozier’s signature sideline-to-sideline touchdown run that drew its own Holy Cow descriptor from Bremser. Because that famous 5-yard run turned a 14-10 halftime lead into a 21-10 cushion, Bremser was at his best painting a picture of how the play unfolded. At the end, he simply said of Rozier: “If that wouldn’t get him a Heisman, nothing would!”

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