First off, the victory was No. 100 for Tom Osborne, a nice bit of symmetry since his first victory had come against the same opponent, UCLA, 10 years earlier, also at Memorial Stadium.
And though the Bruins had a 10-0 lead 2 minutes into the second quarter, Nebraska, which lost four-of-six fumbles during the first half, won going away, 42-10.
The game was the Huskers’ fourth in 1983, the “Scoring Explosion” season. The week before, they had scored exactly twice as many points in defeating Minnesota at Minneapolis.
Some had accused Osborne of running up the score against Minnesota. But if you saw the game, you knew that wasn’t the case. This time, Craig Sundberg, the Huskers’ third-string quarterback, took a knee at the UCLA 2-yard line on the game’s final play.
Earlier in the second half, when the outcome was still in doubt, Husker I-back Mike Rozier scored a touchdown on what was listed as a 2-yard run on third down and goal.
The official play-by-play said: “Rozier around left end, reverses field and goes in for TD with 8:16 left 3rd Qrt.” But the senior from Camden, New Jersey, covered 75 or 80 yards on a play reminiscent of Bobby Reynolds’ zigzagging touchdown run against Missouri in 1950.
Quarterback Turner Gill pitched the ball to Rozier, who was running to his left, toward the east sideline. Rozier broke a tackle near the 5-yard line and reversed field, giving ground to about the 17-yard line as he ran back to the right before slanting toward the end zone.
He crossed the south goal line near the west sideline.
Nebraska had gained possession at the UCLA 32-yard line when defensive end Dave Ridder sacked Bruin quarterback Rick Neuheisel, who fumbled and linebacker Mark Daum recovered. On UCLA’s next possession Neuheisel was sacked by middle guard Mike Tranmer and tackle Rob Stuckey on either side of an interception that was nullified by the Bruins having started before the snap.
On the next series, Steve Bono replaced Neuheisel.
Linebacker Mike Knox led the Nebraska defenders with 16 tackles. Daum was credited with nine, as UCLA was limited to 292 total yards, including 126 in the second half. Cornerback Dave Burke scored the game’s final touchdown, intercepting a Bono pass and returning it 31 yards with 8:59 remaining.
Nebraska rolled up 600 yards, 477 of them rushing. Gill completed 8-of-10 passes, without an interception, for 123 yards and a third-quarter touchdown to fullback Tom Rathman.
The crowd of 76,510, consecutive sellout No. 126, was a Memorial Stadium record for a non-conference game. And, again, the victory was No. 100 for Osborne.
His predecessor, Bob Devaney, also coached 100 victories at Nebraska, making them the first two coaches to reach that total at the same school back-to-back. Devaney’s 100thvictory came against Kansas State in the next-to-last game of the regular season in 1972, his final season.
A “Double Hundred Celebration” had already been arranged for regular-season’s end in 1983. Comedian Bob Hope would be the master of ceremonies and the guest list would include Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey and U.S. Senators J.J. Exon and Ed Zorinsky, as well as several Husker All-Americans, including Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska’s first Heisman Trophy winner.
In typical fashion, however, Osborne downplayed victory No. 100. It didn’t “amount to a hill of beans,” he said afterward. The season was just beginning.
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.