Tommie Frazier listened to the 1994 Oklahoma State game on the radio from a hospital bed, dealing with blood clots. The thought then was his junior season was over.
Brook Berringer watched the second half from the sideline after being driven to student health at halftime to be checked for what was diagnosed, again, as a collapsed left lung.
Enter Matt Turman, a sophomore walk-on from Wahoo, Nebraska.
Tony Veland, who had started his third game at free safety after Mike Minter suffered a season-ending injury against Texas Tech, played only briefly in the second half as insurance in case Turman would be injured. Veland had been a quarterback until that season.
“I think they’ve got some struggles at quarterback,” Oklahoma State Coach Pat Jones said during his post-game news conference. “But they’ve still got an awful good supporting cast.”
That supporting cast included a strong offensive line and I-back Lawrence Phillips, who carried 33 times for 221 yards (6.7 per carry) and three touchdowns.
He increased his season rushing total to 1,006 yards.
“Their defense will have to turn it up,” said Jones. “They can win ballgames with the defense and the kicking game if they have to. Any time you get down to your third-team quarterback there are going to be problems. But they can still win ballgames.”
The defense turned it up against the Cowboys, who came to Lincoln for the Big Eight opener with a 3-1 record but would go 0-5-1 following the 32-3 loss to Nebraska. They managed only seven first downs and 137 yards. Nebraska had three sacks, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.
Linebacker Ed Stewart led the Huskers with 10 tackles. Tackle Christian Peter had nine.
Oklahoma State quarterback Tone’ Jones completed only 6-of-20 passes for 96 yards.
Husker kicker Darin Erstad contributed six points, three on a 48-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining in the first half, one on an extra-point kick and two on a pass-reception conversion. Holder Jon Vedral, a wide receiver, threw the pass after picking up a bad snap and scrambling.
Erstad punted only twice.
Oklahoma State scored first, capitalizing on a fumbled pitch, but wouldn’t score again. Nebraska didn’t get on the scoreboard until the second quarter—for the second game in a row—when Phillips carried 2 yards to cap an 11-play, 57-yard drive. Tom Sieler’s extra-point kick went wide left.
Erstad’s field goal made the score 9-3 at halftime.
“I think defensively early on, we bent but didn’t break,” Jones said.
But “I give Nebraska credit for just lining up and whipping us, particularly in the third quarter. At halftime, we felt like we had a legitimate chance at that.”
That wasn’t the case. Oklahoma State managed only 24 total yards and two first downs in the second half. The Cowboys crossed midfield just once after the intermission.
Nebraska’s offense took control with 16 third-quarter points, under the direction of Turman, a “great competitor,” according to quarterbacks coach Turner Gill.
Turman took advantage of those around him. He attempted only four passes, completing one to Abdul Muhammad for 23 yards, and carried six times for 6 yards.
He also completed a two-point conversion pass to tight end Eric Alford.
Berringer’s status for the next game at Kansas State was the focus of questioning Tom Osborne following the game. “I will go with what the doctors say,” said Osborne. “If they say he can’t play, he’s not going to play.”
The collapse hadn’t been as dramatic as it was during the Wyoming game. Dr. Pat Clare, the Huskers’ chief of staff, said it was too early to tell whether Berringer would be cleared to play.
Berringer said he intended to play.
Next: Quarterback complications
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.