Tom's Time
Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Tom’s Time: Pipeline, Blackshirts Led the Way Against CU in ’94

November 18, 2021

No. 2-ranked Colorado came to Lincoln in late October of 1994 with its version of Nebraska’s “triplets,” the name given to quarterback Turner Gill, I-back Mike Rozier and wingback Irving Fryar by Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer in the early 1980s.

The Huskers were 3-0 against Oklahoma with the “triplets,” though Gill was injured and missed the 1981 game in Norman. Rozier won the Heisman Trophy in 1983.

Colorado’s “triplets” were quarterback Kordell Stewart, tailback Rashaan Salaam and wide receiver Michael Westbrook. Salaam would win the Heisman in 1994.

Led by that trio, the Buffaloes ranked second nationally in rushing and fourth in scoring offense.

But Stewart, Salaam and Westbrook were 0-2 against Nebraska when starting together.

And they were about to be 0-3.

As mentioned in the previous Tom’s Time, the consensus seemed to be Colorado would win the game, in part because Brook Berringer, not Tommie Frazier was the Husker quarterback.

Jim Litke of the Associated Press pointed out a banner draped over the wall in the southeast corner of Memorial Stadium read: “Quarterback. We don’t need no stinkin’ quarterback.”

The banner was both positive and negative, questioning Berringer’s value to Nebraska success, but praising the rest of the offense and the defense in achieving it.

Turned out Berringer was a significant part, too, directing an eight-play, 51-yard touchdown drive on the Huskers’ second possession, capped by fullback Cory Schlesinger’s 14-yard run. Nebraska had only one third down during the drive; Berringer converted on third-and-1.

The Huskers added a 24-yard Tom Sieler field goal with 9:01 left in the first half and Clinton Childs’ 2-yard touchdown run with 36 seconds remaining in the half, finishing a nine-play, 73-yard drive that included Berringer passes of 15 yards to tight end Eric Alford, 16 and 15 yards to tight end Mark Gilman and 12 yards to wingback Abdul Muhammad. Two of the passes converted third downs.

The score was 17-0 at halftime. The Blackshirts had shut down Colorado’s “triplets,” allowing the Buffaloes only 89 yards and five first downs. Salaam carried 10 times for 38 yards. Stewart completed 2-of-6 passes for 7 yards. And Westbrook had one catch for 3 yards.

The “triplets” would be more productive in the second half. But on its first possession in the third quarter—after a Colorado three-and-out—Nebraska drove 69 yards on seven plays, the seventh a 30-yard Berringer touchdown pass to Alford.

Sieler’s extra-point kick made the score 24-0.

The Buffalo defense seemed to have ignored Nebraska’s tight ends. Alford and Gilman had a combined nine catches for 124 yards and the Alford touchdown.

Berringer did throw one interception, the game’s only turnover late in the third quarter on a third-and-13, but he finished 12-of-17 for 142 yards and the touchdown.

I-back Lawrence Phillips carried 24 times for 103 yards, his ninth consecutive 100-yard rushing effort, though the postgame stats had him carrying 25 times for 86 yards. That was changed, officially, later, as sometimes was the case, giving a 17-yard loss to Berringer instead of Phillips.

The play occurred midway through the fourth quarter.

Fullbacks Schlesinger and Jeff Makovicka carried a combined 11 times for 97 yards, with none of the carries going for losses.

As for the often overlooked offensive line, the “Pipeline,” Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star wrote: “If an offensive line can carry a football team to the mythical national championship—and I’m not so sure it can’t—then hand the trophy to Nebraska.”

Tackles Zach Wiegert and Rob Zatechka, guards Brenden Stai and Joel Wilks and center Aaron Graham were just going about business as usual.

As were the Blackshirts. Strongside linebacker Troy Dumas led the tacklers with 11. And Stewart was sacked four times (Berringer wasn’t sacked). Defensive tackle Terry Connealy, who had slept through most of the second half of the Missouri game in the locker room with flu-like symptoms, returned to record two of the sacks. Dwayne Harris and Donta Jones had the others.

The Buffaloes were 0-for-11 on third-down attempts and 0-for-4 on fourth-down attempts. They finished with 318 yards—Nebraska managed 345 and controlled time of possession.

“We’re still Nebraska,” said cornerback Barron Miles. “We’re still the same defense.”

“We weren’t Colorado today,” Stewart was quoted. He finished 12-of-28 for 150 yards. In three games against Nebraska, he was 23-of-64 for 282 yards, with three interceptions and no touchdowns.

Westbrook caught six passes for 80 yards. And Salaam broke out in the second half, finishing with 134 yards on 22 carries and scoring the Buffaloes’ lone touchdown on a 6-yard run with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter to make what would be the final score, 24-7.

Next: Who’s No. 1? No TV for KU

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