1995 Nebraska Football: One Of The Best Champions Ever
The 1995 Nebraska football team was the defending national champion, having finally broken through in 1994 and ending a 23-year title drought for the program. They were hunting for bear in 1995 and they found what they were looking for.
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Nebraska was ranked #2 in the preseason poll, trailing only Florida State, meaning they controlled their own destiny from the outset. Grant Wistrom was a rock at defensive tackle. Sophomore guard Aaron Taylor was getting started on a brilliant career that would eventually bring him the Outland Trophy. Tommie Frazier was healthy at quarterback after being hampered with a blood clot during the ’94 title run.
While running back Laurence Phillips was running into a series of off-the-field problems that would loom over the program, Ahman Green was a capable runner would go on to a fine NFL career. Nebraska started 5-0 and scored 275 points in the five wins as they stormed out of September on a collision course with history.
Nebraska blasted Missouri and Kansas State and set up a late October date at seventh-ranked Colorado. Would this be the game the Huskers were challenged? Green took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage and ended up in the end zone. Frazier threw for a career-high 241 yards. The final was 44-21.
No, the Cornhuskers would not be challenged in the Big Eight in the conference’s final year before merging with the Southwest Conference to create the Big 12. Not by 10th-ranked Kansas who fell 41-3, in spite of gaining nearly 200 yards in the first half. Not by Oklahoma who was beaten 38-10. Nebraska had taken over the top spot in the polls after the Colorado game and they were set for a Fiesta Bowl date with #2 Florida to determine the national championship.
January 2 marked a new era in college football. Just one year earlier, unbeaten Nebraska and unbeaten Florida would have been committed to the Orange and Sugar Bowls respectively. But the major conferences, save the Big Ten & Pac-10, had come together and agreed to pair up the top two ranked champions in their leagues—or their “Bowl Alliance”, as this forerunner of the BCS and the newly created College Football Playoff was called, in a pre-determined bowl game. The Fiesta was the bowl and it was pushed back a day from the rest of the New Year’s feast to give it a “Super Bowl” feel.
At this time in history the Super Bowl had a bad reputation for resulting in a blowout more often than not. And Nebraska did their part to give the Fiesta Bowl a Super Bowl feel. Though they trailed 10-6 after the first quarter, the second quarter was one for the history books.
Phillips took off on a 42-yard touchdown run. Nebraska sacked Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel for a safety. Later, Wuerffel was picked off and the ball taken to the house. Kris Brown kicked two field goals for Nebraska. Green hit the end zone. It was 35-10 at the half.
And lest anyone have any thoughts of a comeback, Frazier came out after intermission and scampered 35 yards for a touchdown. Nebraska kept pouring it on from start to finish. Florida’s “Fun-And-Gun” flash offense had been absolutely destroyed by the physical Cornhuskers.
The final was 62-24 and the 1995 Nebraska football team would be freely and correctly mentioned among the great teams of all time. The two-year run overall was the first time a team had run the table back-to-back years since Oklahoma in 1955-56. If you want one stat to remember, it’s this—in the Fiesta Bowl, the Nebraska rushing attack produced 524 yards. Just the rushing attack. That alone tells you how powerful this team was and why they deserve a special place in the history books.