Hawaii Coach Dick Tomey was not amused, you might say.
“That superiority complex of Nebraska; I’m sick of it,” he was quoted in the Omaha World-Herald following his Warriors’ 37-16 loss to Nebraska in early December of 1982.
He wasn’t referring to Tom Osborne or the Huskers, said Tomey, just the fans and the media.He was “sick of reading” about how good the Huskers were, he said.
Actually, “good” fell short of describing Nebraska, which was 10-1, Big Eight champion, No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and as much as a 28-point favorite against 6-4 Hawaii.
Regular-season schedules were limited to 11 games, with those traveling to Hawaii allowed a 12th. So the week after defeating Oklahoma, the Huskers headed to Honolulu.
An estimated 8,000 Nebraskans were among the 46,876 at Aloha Stadium.
Given the context, the game would’ve been mentioned only in passing in this series, like the 52-0 rout at Kansas in late October or the back-to-back 48-10 victories against Oklahoma State and at Iowa State that followed, a 148-20 three-game run.
For three quarters, however, it seemed as if Tomey’s ire was justified. Hawaii took a 16-7 lead into the final quarter, Nebraska’s touchdown coming on wingback Irving Fryar’s 31-yard run.
Turner Gill was dealing with a back issue, so senior Bruce Mathison started at quarterback for Nebraska, which trailed 13-0 at halftime. Gill entered the game in the third quarter.
With Gill in charge, the fourth quarter provided a preview of coming attractions, 1983’s “Scoring Explosion” offense, with a big assist from the Blackshirts.
The Huskers scored 30 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes, including 17 during a span of 1:37.
Kevin Seibel opened the scoring assault, kicking a 23-yard field goal with 11:51 remaining – 16-10 Hawaii.
On the following possession, cornerback Allen Lyday forced and recovered a fumble at the Hawaii 18-yard line, and Gill ran for a touchdown on the first play; Seibel kicked the extra point with 11:27 remaining – 17-16 Nebraska.
On the next series, safety Bret Clark intercepted a pass and returned the ball 19 yards to the 50. Roger Craig carried for 34 yards, Fryar for 10 yards on a reverse, and Craig covered the final 6 yards for the touchdown; Seibel kicked the extra point with 10:14 remaining – 24-16 Nebraska.
Fullback Doug Wilkening would score on a 10-yard run with 3:06 remaining, and Fryar capped the comeback by returning a punt 70 yards for a touchdown with 1:33 on the clock.
The extra-point kick failed after the final touchdown – 37-16 Nebraska.
Nebraska amassed 575 yards, including 479 rushing. Craig, who had battled injuries all season, led the Huskers with 127 yards on 18 carries. Mike Rozier, still dealing with an ankle injury, carried 14 times for 111 yards to break Nebraska’s single-season rushing record – with 1,689 yards.
As noted countless times before, NCAA statistics didn’t yet include bowl games.
Hawaii managed 299 total yards, including 96 rushing.
It would seem Tomey might’ve been sick of watching the Huskers in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska would finish the 1982 season against No. 13 LSU in the Orange Bowl with no chance of winning the national championship. The Tigers, 8-2-1, finished second to Georgia in the SEC. The Bulldogs were undefeated and ranked No. 1 and would play No. 2 Penn State in the Sugar Bowl.
Tom's Time is a regular feature that will take a closer look at the life of Tom Osborne. Nebraska has a storied history in football that dates back to the earliest years of the game, but the tradition to which Husker fans hold Nebraska is mostly a reference to Osborne's 25 years as head coach. And that will always be worth exploring in greater detail. Click here for all of the entries in the series.
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.