Each week, The Daily Nebraskan will look to fill the void of a delayed football season by examining a previous season in program history, looking at key moments, players or storylines. Previous editions recapped the 1890, 1940, 1962, 1970, 1971 and 1994 seasons. On the docket this week is the 1995 edition of NU football.
After winning the national championship in 1994 — the third in school history and first under head coach Tom Osborne — the Huskers were expected to succeed once again.
The Huskers ranked No. 2 in the preseason AP poll and returned several key pieces, particularly on offense. Junior running back Lawrence Phillips returned after a breakout sophomore campaign, as did senior quarterbacks Tommie Frazier and Brook Berringer, both of whom made key contributions during the previous season.
The 1995 Huskers lived up to the hype and then some, dominating nearly every team they faced en route to a second-straight national title and completing a three-season stretch with a 36-1 record.
The dominance began right away, as the Huskers used a 30-point second quarter to take a 36-7 lead at halftime against Oklahoma State in the season opener. NU cruised from there in a 64-21 win.
Nebraska rolled to 671 yards of total offense, while the Blackshirts held Oklahoma State to 282 total yards. They also forced three Cowboy turnovers, including a 29-yard pick six from junior linebacker Terrell Farley in the second quarter.
Frazier threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns and added another 64 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Phillips ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, while freshman running back Ahman Green added 52 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
The following week, Nebraska trounced Michigan State 50-10. Offensively, the Huskers rolled to 666 total yards, nearly doubling the Spartans’ 335 yards of total offense. The Blackshirts notched one interception and forced six fumbles, recovering two.
On Sept. 16, the Huskers bludgeoned Arizona State 77-28 in a game they led 35-7 at the end of the first quarter and 63-21 at halftime. Frazier threw for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception and added another two scores on the ground.
Phillips did not play as he served the first game of a suspension after an assault charge, but senior running back Clinton Childs and Green filled in well. Childs ran for 143 yards and two scores on 12 carries, while Green ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.
Defensively, Farley notched his second pick six of the season on a 21-yard interception return in the fourth quarter.
NU hammered Pacific 49-7 the next week behind junior running back Damon Benning’s 173 yards and three first quarter touchdowns. Green added 112 yards and two scores on 15 carries, while Frazier ran the ball seven times for 62 yards and a touchdown.
The Huskers ran into early trouble the following week against Washington State. A Cougar touchdown with 8:44 remaining in the first quarter marked the only regular-season deficit the Huskers faced in the entire regular season. NU tied the game 17 seconds into the second quarter and did not trail again until the final game of the season.
Frazier threw for 99 yards and a touchdown in the 35-21 win over the Cougars, adding 75 yards and two scores on the ground. Green led the team in rushing, exploding for 176 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
After a bye week, the Huskers blanked Missouri in a 57-0 thrashing on Oct. 14. Frazier threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns and added 71 yards and three scores on the ground. Green ran for 90 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Farley added a safety on a blocked punt in the third quarter.
The undefeated, No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats rolled into Lincoln the following week for a clash of top-10 teams. Instead, the Huskers dominated throughout, taking a 35-6 lead into halftime and cruising to a 49-25 win.
NU hit the road for another top-10 showdown the following week, facing the No. 7 Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder. The Husker offense rolled to three first quarter touchdowns in a 44-21 romp.
Frazier threw for a career-high 241 yards with two touchdowns and added another score on the ground. Green added 97 yards and two scores on 18 carries to lead the NU rushing attack.
Following the win against Colorado, the Huskers moved to the top spot in the polls for the first time all season ahead of a matchup against Iowa State. The Huskers obliterated the Cyclones, outgaining Iowa State by over 500 yards in a 73-14 domination.
For the fourth consecutive game, Nebraska did not turn the ball over. Frazier again powered the offense, throwing for 118 yards and two touchdowns while running for 62 yards and two more scores. Green led the rushing attack with 176 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, and added another touchdown through the air. Childs and Phillips also scored one touchdown a piece.
The Huskers started slowly at No. 10 Kansas the following week, but outscored the Jayhawks 27-0 in the second half for a 41-3 win. Frazier threw for 86 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but added 99 yards and two scores on the ground as the team’s leading rusher in the contest. Green added 45 yards on 10 carries, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
NU’s offense did not find the end zone until the fourth quarter the following week against Oklahoma, but the defense picked up the slack in a 37-0 shutout. Twice, the Blackshirts converted Oklahoma turnovers into scores. Junior linebacker Jamel Williams returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, while senior safety Tony Veland found the end zone on a 57-yard fumble return in the third quarter.
The Huskers finished the regular season undefeated and faced the No. 2 Florida Gators in the Fiesta Bowl — what many referred to as the de facto national championship game. Despite NU’s dominance in the regular season, many pundits predicted Florida and its “Run and Gun” offense would win the game and the title in the leadup to kickoff.
For one quarter, it looked like the pregame predictions had a chance to be right, as the Gators held a 10-6 lead after the first quarter. Less than a minute into the second quarter, Phillips busted loose for a 42-yard touchdown to put the Huskers back in front. Williams sacked Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel for a safety on the Gators’ next drive, and the momentum began to swing rapidly in the Huskers’ favor.
Green found the end zone with 9:13 left in the half, putting the Huskers up 22-10. After a field goal later in the quarter extended the NU lead to 25-10, junior cornerback Michael Booker intercepted Wuerffel and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown.
The Huskers tacked on another field goal before the break, taking a 35-10 lead into the locker room after a 29-point second quarter.
NU made it 36 unanswered points on Frazier’s 35-yard touchdown run with just under two and a half minutes left in the third quarter before the Gators scored again.
Then, with a 42-18 lead, Frazier broke loose on the final play of the third quarter on what has become known as “The Run.” Approximately seven broken tackles and 75 yards later, Frazier had his second rushing touchdown of the quarter and the Huskers had a 49-18 lead.
The Huskers tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on rushing scores from Phillips and Berringer. When all was said and done, NU had a second consecutive championship after a 62-24 beatdown that wasn’t as close as the score suggested.
NU outgained Florida 629-269. The Huskers ran for a whopping 524 yards and held the Gators to -28 rushing yards on 21 carries. The Blackshirts scored nine points, sacked Wuerffel seven times and intercepted him three times.
Frazier set the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl game. He exploded for 199 yards and two scores on 16 carries in his final collegiate game. Frazier also threw for 105 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Phillips ran the ball 25 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns and added a receiving score. Green picked up 68 yards and a score on nine carries.
Frazier threw for 1,362 yards with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions during his senior year. He added 604 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground and very easily could have won the Heisman Trophy, but Ohio State’s Eddie George was declared the winner.
Green led the team in rushing as a freshman, finishing with 1,086 yards and 13 touchdowns. Four other Huskers ran for over 350 yards — Phillips with 547 yards and nine touchdowns, Childs with 431 yards and three scores, Benning with 407 yards and four touchdowns and senior fullback Jeff Makovicka with 371 yards and one touchdown.
The 1995 Huskers are widely regarded as one of the greatest college football teams ever, if not the greatest. They won every game by double digits — the closest margin of victory all year was 14 points in the win against Washington State.
NU faced four teams that would finish ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll — Colorado, Kansas State, Kansas and Florida. It beat those four teams by a combined score of 196-73.
Perhaps even more impressively, the NU offensive line did not allow a single sack all season. The option offense and Frazier’s elusiveness likely contributed to that statistic, but it still shows how dominant the Huskers were in 1995.