Tom's Time
Photo Credit: Randy Hampton

Tom’s Time: The Song that Predicted Nebraska-Kansas in 1983

September 25, 2018

The stereo LP, “Coke is it! Big Red Country,” manufactured by H.H.H. Productions and All Pro Records in Nashville, was released in 1982. It includes 14 tracks, four “COKE IS IT,” two vocal and two instrumental versions, as well as 10 related to Nebraska football.

The cover features a color photo of a packed Memorial Stadium with the band on the field and a cartoon of Herbie Husker holding a Coke in the lower right-hand corner.

Among the tracks are BIG RED FAN, OKIE KNUCKLEHEAD DON’T BELONG, DON’T MAKE A HUSKER MAD and, for the purposes here, NEBRASKA 67 – KANSAS 1.

When the album was released, the Huskers hadn’t lost to Kansas since 1968, a streak that would continue until 2005, and though Nebraska had never scored 67 against its rival to the south, it had scored as many as 63 (in 1978) and 50 or more four other times during the previous 13 seasons.

The score in 1982, at Lawrence, was 52-0.

In 1983, however, the Huskers scored 67, to 13 for Kansas, as Coach Tom Osborne’s top-ranked team rolled to an 11th-consecutive victory and locked up a third-consecutive Orange Bowl bid.

Even though one regular-season game remained for Nebraska, at Oklahoma, the Orange Bowl committee had announced that it would take the team with the best record in the event of a tie for the Big Eight championship. So the Huskers were assured of another trip to Miami.

Ironically, perhaps, I-back Mike Rozier, the Heisman-Trophy-winner-to-be, also broke Nebraska’s single-game rushing record, carrying 31 times for 285 yards and four touchdowns.

The week before, after rushing for 212 yards and four touchdowns against Iowa State, Rozier had said he wanted to break the record, 255 yards, set by Rick Berns in 1978 against Missouri.

It was Rozier’s third-consecutive game with more than 200 yards rushing.

Then as now Rozier gave credit to his teammates for his success. Looking back, during the Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame induction weekend when the Huskers played Colorado this season, Rozier said: “We had some talent, not just us three,” referring to Turner Gill and Irving Fryar as well.

“My linemen, my receivers, the coaching staff, the fans – we put it all together,” he said.

And yes, he included the fans. “I love the fans,” said Rozier. “I love the people here.”

The regionally-televised Kansas game in 1983 drew 75,503 to Memorial Stadium. Those who were slow getting to their seats might have missed the first of Rozier’s touchdowns. On Nebraska’s fifth play from scrimmage, he took a pitch from Gill and ran 49 yards 1:55 into the first quarter. 

Three-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter, Rozier scored his fourth touchdown, on a 17-yard run, and the Huskers led 27-0, on the way to a 41-0 halftime lead.

They would add another touchdown, on Jeff Smith’s 63-yard punt return, for a 47-0 lead 3:08 into the second half before Kansas would finally get on the scoreboard.

It was a day – kickoff was 2:51, which meant ABC had to bring in mobile lighting – of big plays.

Smith and Gill teamed up on a 68-yard touchdown pass to finish the first-half scoring, and reserve I-back Paul Miles scored the final touchdown on a 78-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

Back-up monster Dan Casterline also was credited with a punt return for a touchdown, scooping up the ball after Guy Rozier blocked a punt, and running 21 yards to the end zone.

For the second game in a row, Nebraska’s defense bent but didn’t break. Kansas quarterbacks Frank Seurer and Mike Orth combined to complete 18-of-41 for 320 yards and both touchdowns. But Seurer, the starter, threw three interceptions and was sacked twice.

The Jayhawks finished with 452 yards of offense. But they were no match for Nebraska’s offense, which rolled up 31 first downs and 680 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per play.

The Huskers converted on 11-of-14 third downs. Kansas, in contrast, punted eight times.

Kansas Coach Mike Gottfried wasn’t effusive in his praise of the Huskers. Folks didn’t need his “stamp” on Nebraska’s greatness. It had all been said.

His team hadn’t been the only one buried by the “Scoring Explosion.” Six others had given up 50 or more points, including four 63 or more – the high 84 at Minnesota.

“I think we were pretty decent,” Rozier said, looking back a quarter of a century later.

“I ain’t taking too much credit, but we (were) OK.”

As for the timing of the record album’s release, you might say it was uncanny – 67 on the nose.

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.

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