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Tom’s Time: The Last Husker JV Game

October 15, 2020

We interrupt the 1993 Nebraska football season to bring you a Husker junior varsity game, the last ever played, three years after the freshman-jayvee team was disbanded.

On Friday October 8, 1993, the day after the Huskers opened Big Eight play with a 27-14 victory at Oklahoma State, a Nebraska jayvee team, under the direction of redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Turman, defeated the Air Force jayvees 49-20.

The Husker jayvees generated 622 yards of offense, with Turman completing 9-of-11 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for a team-high 73 yards on nine carries. He directed the Husker jayvees to scores on six of the eight possessions he played.

Offensive guard Bryan Pruitt, a sophomore, scored Nebraska’s final touchdown, picking up a fumble by junior I-back Scott Davenport and carrying 35 yards for the score.

Like Turman, Pruitt and Davenport walked on.

Graduate assistants Gerry Gdowski and Bill Busch coached the Nebraska jayvees.

Official attendance at Memorial Stadium was just over 500.

The teams were scheduled for a rematch in Colorado Springs on Nov. 12, but inclement weather prevented Nebraska from traveling and the game was never played.

Thus, Nebraska’s freshman-jayvee program officially came to an end.

Initially, the Huskers’ freshman program was just that—only freshmen. It remained that through much of its existence, even as other Big Eight schools began using jayvee teams, with non-freshmen who weren’t getting varsity playing time.

Nebraska’s records go back to 1956, when the Husker freshmen played two games against freshman teams from Kansas State and Iowa State. The two-game, conference schedules continued through 1964 before being expanded to four games against Big Eight opponents.

In 1967, Nebraska’s freshmen played three Big Eight freshman teams and McCook Junior College, which remained on the schedule for three more seasons.

In 1973, the Husker freshmen played five conference opponents and in 1974, they played two with a third game against the University of Nebraska-Omaha jayvees. Beginning in 1975, the Nebraska freshman began five-game schedules, which continued through 1990.

By then the opponents were junior colleges and jayvee teams from non-Division I schools such as Bethany, William Jewell, Pittsburg State, and St. Thomas. The last season in which the Huskers played a Big Eight jayvee team was 1985, a 56-0 victory against Iowa State’s jayvees.

The Husker freshman program ended because of an NCAA reduction in full-time coaches beginning in 1992. Even if the inclination had been to continue, it wouldn’t have been possible after the Big Eight Conference passed a rule prohibiting such programs for cost-containment reasons. 

In addition, reductions in scholarship numbers, freshmen being allowed to play on the varsity beginning in 1972 and redshirt their first year meant fewer players available. 

Nebraska’s freshman-junior varsity teams were 120-17-1 over 35 seasons, with only two losing seasons. In 1957, 0-2, and in 1987, they won their first two games against the St. Thomas jayvees and the Bethany jayvees by a combined score of 127-0 before losing to the Air Force jayvees (21-19), Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College (49-14) and Waldorf (Iowa) Junior College (42-36).

The Husker freshman-jayvees had 21 unbeaten seasons. They were 4-1 under Coach Bill Weber in the 1990 season, the loss coming against the Air Force jayvees.

The Turman-led victory against the Air Force jayvees was No. 121 all-time, but only the second for the Huskers in six meetings between the teams. Tom Osborne had scheduled the two-game series in 1993 as a favor to Air Force coach Fischer DeBerry.

“Outside of the service academies, the NU program was believed to be the last full-time jayvee program in Division I-A,” the 1990 Husker media guide said.

And now, back to the 1993 season, Homecoming against 5-0 Kansas State.

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