This list was initially published on Memorial Day weekend 2015, but was lost in a redesign. It has been lightly updated, mostly to make sure all the links still work.
This being the offseason, I’ve spent a lot of time recently watching old Husker games on YouTube. Two reasons for that: 1) It’s often research for something I’m either writing or want to write, and 2) I just really enjoy football. Put any football game on around this time of year and I’ll watch it.
But while trying to find some of these games, it wasn’t as smooth a process as I had hoped. Not that it was difficult — you just type in the year and teams you want and it’s either there or isn’t — but it seemed like there should be some sort of map for when you’re football-parched and want the ease of someone having done the research for you. Essentially, like turning on the TV and pulling up the channel guide.
While there are a couple of YouTube playlists available and you quickly learn which users are likely to have the goods, Google searches didn’t turn up a ton of help. So here’s some help, a guide to the best Husker games on YouTube.
A couple of caveats. First, they have to be (mostly) complete games. We’re talking about settling in here for a couple of hours during the summer and pretending it’s Saturday. (Smart TVs and various stream-to-TV options have made this much more pleasant and viable.) Second, I’m leaving the national championship games off this list. You can watch the 1971 Orange Bowl, the 1972 Orange Bowl, the 1995 Orange Bowl (holy overwrought intro, Bob Costas!), the 1996 Fiesta Bowl and the 1998 Orange Bowl, but I’m assuming those are like your favorite movies at this point — you’ve seen them a hundred times and will always watch them when they’re on, but they need no further introduction. (Same goes for Game of the Century, but like those others listed above it's on the playlist I made along with a few other bonus cuts.)
Preamble out of the way, on to the list working in reverse-chronological order:
2015 No. 7 Michigan State at Nebraska: The best win of the Mike Riley era? Yes, the best win of the Mike Riley era. Too bad it came near the end of a rough first season. Worse that it wasn't topped in the years to come.
2014 Miami at No. 24 Nebraska: While not an all-timer like some of the games to come on this list, this was a highly entertaining contest. (Bonus: This one’s in HD.)
2009 Big 12 Championship No. 3 Texas v. No. 21 Nebraska (2nd Half): Does Ndamukong Suh’s dominance outweigh the outcome? That’s the key question to ask yourself before cueing this one up, but it was one of the key, if not the biggest, turning points in recent Husker history. Nebraska wins this one and who knows what’s different right now?
2005 Alamo Bowl No. 20 Michigan v. Nebraska: Have to represent the Bill Callahan era somehow and this was, perhaps, his best win while in Lincoln. It’s missing the first six minutes of the first quarter, but that’s not that big of a deal.
2001 No. 2 Oklahoma at No. 3 Nebraska: The last truly great win for Nebraska football to date.
1997 No. 1 Nebraska at Missouri: Flea-kicker, flea-kicker, flea-kicker. I missed this game when it was broadcast live because I was in a tractor. Thanks to YouTube, I don’t have to feel like I missed the boat any more.
1995 No. 8 Kansas State at No. 2 Nebraska: The Huskers’ first big test of that 1995 season and the highest-ranked Kansas State team Nebraska had ever faced to that point.
1994 No. 3 Colorado at No. 2 Nebraska: Colorado had already beaten five ranked teams on its way to 7-0, Nebraska had beaten three. It was also the Huskers’ 200th-consecutive home sellout.
1992 No. 8 Colorado at No. 8 Nebraska: It was a laugher, but this one’s historically significant as it was the second start of Tommie Frazier’s career and also the first time two teams occupying the same spot in the AP poll had ever squared off.
1988 No. 10 Oklahoma State at No. 7 Nebraska: A blowout that looks more like a shootout by the final score. Tune in for vintage Barry Sanders, stay for Hart Lee Dykes, one of the best-named football players ever.
1987 No. 3 UCLA at No. 2 Nebraska: Steve Taylor throws five touchdowns in the Huskers’ 150th-consecutive sellout.
1983 No. 1 Nebraska at Oklahoma: The Sooners started the season at No. 2 in the AP poll but entered this one unranked. Despite that, Oklahoma was one of two teams that season to hold the Scoring Explosion offense of Nebraska to less than 30 points in 1983. Oklahoma State was the other.
1980 Cotton Bowl No. 7 Nebraska v. No. 8 Houston: A new decade dawns with a really fun game (through it drags a bit in the second and third quarters). You get Bill Yeoman’s veer offense (a truly revolutionary play in the grand scheme of things), Houston’s quarterback wearing a cowboy hat in his starting lineup photo, a live cougar on the sidelines, Nebraska running the swinging gate, tearaway jerseys and a fantastic finish. Highly recommended.
1974 Sugar Bowl No. 8 Nebraska v. No. 18 Florida: The first-ever meeting between the Huskers and Gators and still just the second all time. Second-year Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer shows up to offer some pregame analysis wearing what looks like a floral print dinner jacket, ruffled tuxedo shirt and big black bow tie. He was available as Oklahoma was on probation. Didn’t stop the undefeated Sooners from being voted No. 1 in the AP poll, but they were banned from the Coaches’ poll, the first school ever to achieve that particular dishonor.
There are certainly some games that I either forgot to include or missed entirely, so if you think there’s a full game worthy of inclusion, drop a comment below.