Nebraska was prepared for Iowa State in 1993.
There would be no looking past the Cyclones, even though they were only 3-6 and Nebraska was 9-0 and No. 4 in the Associated Press rankings, no effects of the “Iowa State syndrome,” as might have been the case the week before in the Huskers’ 21-20 victory at Kansas.
The “Iowa State syndrome,” remember, was Tom Osborne’s reference to Nebraska’s 19-10 loss at Iowa State in 1992, a function not only of the Cyclones’ run-heavy game plan but also the Huskers’ emotional letdown following decisive victories against ranked opponents.
This time, Nebraska was focused on the present, not a regular-season-ending game against Oklahoma at Memorial Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving.
More about the AP rankings later.
The Huskers’ start against Iowa State on a 44-degree afternoon in mid-November left little doubt about their energy and focus. Consider this . . .
Iowa State won the coin toss and elected to receive. On the kickoff, Nebraska’s Mike Minter forced a fumble, which Tyrone Williams recovered at the Cyclone 27-yard line. Three rushing plays later, including an 18-yarder by quarterback Tommie Frazier, the Huskers scored.
Frazier took the ball across the goal line from 1 yard out. Byron Bennett kicked the extra point.
Nebraska 7-0, 1:11 into the game.
On Iowa State’s first play from scrimmage following the kickoff, linebacker Mike Anderson forced a fumble, which Williams, a cornerback, recovered at the Cyclone 20-yard line. Four rushing plays, including a 13-yarder by I-back Calvin Jones, and a penalty later, the Huskers scored.
Jones took the ball across the goal line from 1 yard out. Bennett kicked the extra point.
Nebraska 14-0, 2:54 into the game.
Iowa State managed a net gain of 1 yard on the following possession before punting. Nebraska began its third possession at its own 42-yard line. The Huskers ran seven plays, including two incomplete passes. The eighth play was a complete pass, from Frazier to tight end Gerald Armstrong.
The pass was good for 10 yards and a touchdown. Bennett kicked the extra point.
Nebraska 21-0, 6:37 into the game.
Iowa State finally responded with a touchdown, on an 11-play, 80-yard drive, before the first quarter ended, and added a field goal while the Huskers were scoreless in the second quarter. But Nebraska scored a pair of touchdowns in third and fourth quarters to win 49-17.
Nebraska did what the Cyclones had done in 1992, what it typically did, run the ball. Frazier threw only 10 passes—the Husker total—completing four for 68 yards. Nebraska ran the ball 61 times for 438 yards. Jones carried 26 times for 208 yards, Frazier 13 times for 125 yards.
Iowa State threw only eight passes, completing five for 58 yards. The Cyclones ran 54 times for 261 yards. But the approach that had worked the previous season didn’t succeed this time.
Linebacker Ed Stewart led the Blackshirts with 14 tackles. Outside linebacker Trev Alberts had 10 tackles, including three for losses and a sack to tie the school single-season record of 15. The previous week’s game against Kansas was the only one in which he hadn’t had a sack.
The tackles for loss gave him the school career record.
Now for the AP rankings.
Top-ranked Florida State was upset by No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend, 31-24, that day. The Fighting Irish deflected a Charlie Ward pass at the goal line on the game’s final play.
As a result, Notre Dame—10-0 like Nebraska—moved to No. 1 in the AP poll. Florida State, 9-1, dropped to, well, No. 2. Nebraska moved up only one place, to No. 3.
Even so, Osborne said during an appearance on the Cable News Network’s “Coaches Corner” on Sunday: “I don’t think there’s any collusion or grand plan to squeeze Nebraska out.”
That comment had come before the updated polls were announced. Miami had also been ahead of the Huskers in the AP poll and they had defeated Rutgers 31-17 to improve to 8-1.
In any case, Oklahoma was a more pressing concern. The 8-2 Sooners, who had moved from No. 17 to No. 15 with a 31-0 victory against Oklahoma State, would be coming to Lincoln.
And they were always a task, regardless of record or ranking.
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.