Tom's Time
Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Tom’s Time: Wazzu Keeps It Close…Relatively Speaking

October 13, 2022

Washington State defensive end Dwayne Sanders and running back Frank Madu predicted a Cougars’ victory when they came to Lincoln Sept. 30, 1995.

The game “was going to shock a lot of people because we’re going to win,” said Sanders.

“We’re going to pick Nebraska apart,” Madu said.

And maybe, just maybe, the start had Husker fans wondering a little. Washington State went three-and-out on its first possession. Nebraska then drove 76 yards on 10 plays to the Cougar 14-yard line. However, on first down, fullback Jeff Makovicka fumbled after a 5-yard gain.

The fumble was the first of five by the Huskers. Two others were lost.

Washington State recovered at the 9. For statistical purposes, the Cougar drive began at the 10. After a 3-yard gain, Madu got the ball as Nebraska blitzed. Madu ran 87 yards for a touchdown. Five-and-a-half minutes into the game, the Huskers trailed for the first time of the season, 7-0.

Some Nebraska fans might’ve been shocked by that. But a loss?

Washington State, 2-1, had yet to allow a rushing touchdown and ranked fourth nationally in rushing defense, allowing just under 70 yards per game on the ground. The Huskers nearly reached that on their first possession, rushing for 65 yards.

They had minus-7 yards rushing on their second possession, which ended in a Jesse Kosch punt. But their third drive, which began after a partially-blocked (by Terrell Farley) 19-yard Cougar punt, covered 66 yards in five plays, the last a 4-yard run by Tommie Frazier, 17 seconds into the second quarter.

The short drive included runs of 23 and 10 yards by fullback Brian Schuster and 24 yards by I-back Ahman Green. So much for Washington State’s rushing defense.

By halftime, a 20-yard touchdown run by Frazier and two Kris Brown field goals gave Nebraska a 20-7 lead, which would increase to 28-7 at the end of three quarters. Green scored his second touchdown, from 3  yards, and Brown passed to Schuster for 2 points.

Washington State scored two touchdowns on Chad Davis-to-Shawn Tims passes. A Frazier touchdown pass to tight end Mark Gilman in between kept the Cougars at bay.

Tyrone Williams, Jared Tomich and Grant Wistrom led the Blackshirts with five tackles each. Four of Wistrom’s tackles were for losses, one a sack. Christian Peter also had a sack.

Washington State finished with 350 yards of offense, including 72 yards rushing, meaning without the 87-yard Madu run, the Cougars’ rushing net would’ve been minus-15.

Nebraska was “limited” to 527 yards of offense, its lowest of the season, including 428 by rushing, fewer than any game except Pacific. The Huskers would take that.

Green, first off the bench at I-back following Damon Benning, rushed for a game-high 176 yards and the touchdown, on 13 carries. Frazier rushed for 70  yards and the two touchdowns and completed 9-of-19 passes for 99 yards and the Gilman touchdown.

Nebraska’s point total wasn’t “commensurate” with the yardage, Tom Osborne said. But it was sufficient for the Huskers’ 18th consecutive victory.

The top four in the Associated Press rankings remained the same: Florida State, Nebraska, Florida and Colorado, with Ohio State moving ahead of USC to 5th, following a 45-26 victory against No. 15 Notre Dame, while the Trojans were beating Arizona State 31-0.

If Washington State learned anything, it should’ve been “be careful what you say.”

The Cougars had been 3-0 all-time against Nebraska, winning in 1920, 1957 and 1977, all in Lincoln. Warren Powers had been Washington State’s coach in 1977. But who remembered those games?

And what did they matter, anyway?

“When a team talks as much as they did, you take it personally,” said Frazier. “At least I did.”

Presumably, so did the other 57 Huskers who saw action that afternoon.

Next up: Final season of Big Eight play begins against Missouri, with an off-week to prepare

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