Tom Osborne was “very concerned” at halftime of Nebraska’s game at Kansas in November 1995, which might seem odd given the Huskers’ 14-3 lead.
The issue was, the lead depended on Kansas mistakes.
Wingback Jon Vedral scored Nebraska’s first touchdown by recovering the mishandling of a Jesse Kosch punt in the end zone, the second following Tony Veland’s fumble recovery at the Jayhawk 30-yard line. Three plays later, Tommie Frazier took the ball in from a yard out.
Both touchdowns were in the first quarter. Kansas managed a 19-yard field goal early in the second quarter after a 13-play, 86-yard drive stalled at the Husker 2-yard line.
Though the score was all that mattered, the Jayhawks out-yarded Nebraska in the first half 199 to 110. The Huskers seemed “a little out of sync,” said Osborne.
That changed in the second half. Damon Benning returned the opening kickoff 42 yards and Nebraska drove 58 yards on eight plays, capped by a 1-yard Frazier flip to tight end Vershan Jackson. The touchdown pass was the 42nd of Frazier’s career, breaking Dave Humm’s school record.
The Huskers added three touchdowns while shutting out Kansas. In order, Lawrence Phillips, Frazier and back-up cornerback Mike Fullman scored the touchdowns, Fullman’s on an 86-yard interception return, the pass thrown by back-up quarterback Ben Rutz, who had transferred from Nebraska.
Final score: No. 1 Nebraska 41, No. 10 Kansas 3.
The victory was the Huskers’ third against a Top-10 team in their last four games. The loss was the Jayhawks’ second. Two weeks before, they had lost at Kansas State 41-7.
Other numbers of note on a 32-degree afternoon in a packed stadium dusted by snow—attendance was 50,300, greater than official capacity:
Frazier led Nebraska in rushing, with 99 yards on 10 carries, and completed 10-of-15 passes for 86 yards, with one interception, to give him 185 yards of offense and bring his career total to a school record-breaking 5,313 yards. Jerry Tagge had held the record.
Ahman Green started again at I-back and carried 10 times for 45 yards to bring his season total to 1,042, making him just the fourth freshman in Big Eight history to rush for 1,000 yards.
Phillips also carried 10 times, for 47 yards and the touchdown. The game was his fourth.
Nebraska, which continued to lead the nation in rushing, was “limited” to 289 yards on 51 carries. The Huskers averaged 426 rushing yards going into the game. Their 375 total yards were the second-lowest of the season. Kansas State had held them to 338 total yards.
Nebraska’s streak of 17 quarters without a turnover ended in the second, when the Jayhawks’ recovered an errant Brook Berringer backward pitch to Phillips, who thought it was a forward pass. Berringer stepped in when Frazier went, briefly, to the locker room with a sore foot.
The Huskers also lost another fumble, but the Blackshirts recovered a fumble and intercepted three passes. Jamel Williams had 10 tackles, Michael Booker and Terrell Farley nine each. Phil Ellis and Tyrone Williams also intercepted passes. Jared Tomich and Christian Peter had the game’s only sacks.
Ironically, No. 2 Ohio State—the Buckeyes had just moved past previous No. 2 Florida State, which lost, and No. 3 Florida, which won, in the rankings—defeated Illinois 41-3 that day.
Ohio State also scored 14 points in the first quarter and led 17-0 at halftime, with Eddie George rushing for 180 yards, 95 more than the Illini’s total offense, 85 yards. George would finish with 314 yards and two touchdowns rushing, a performance that helped solidify his run to the Heisman Trophy.
Unlike Osborne, it was clear Buckeyes Coach John Cooper had no reason to be concerned at halftime. Ohio State wasn’t out of sync. Quite the contrary.
“This is the best game we have ever played,” he said.
Next up: Big Eight ends, without a “boom”
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.