Nebraska Moments

By Donald R. Hickey; Susan A. Wunder et al. | Go to book overview

37. The University of Nebraska Football Champions

It was fourth down with only seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The University of Nebraska’s undefeated season was on the line, and this season—1997—was the last one for Coach Tom Osborne. Who would have thought that Missouri, even on their home field, would give the Cornhuskers such a tough game? Diehard Tiger fans cheered, and the entire state of Nebraska held its breath as Quarterback Scott Frost came to the line of scrimmage. There were many players spread out, so to everyone in the stadium it looked like Nebraska would try a last-ditch pass play. Nebraska was not known for its passes; instead, it was feared for its running sweeps and its in-your-face football that Missouri had so far successfully contained.

The ball was hiked. The would-be pass catchers fled into the end zone to be covered by a number of Missouri defenders. Down 38 to 31, would this be the end of the national championship dreams all Cornhusker fans held for their beloved coach? Frost retreated into the backfield, and suddenly he threw a bullet pass that looked like it was headed straight for the ground in the end zone. Then a miracle occurred. Someone deflected the pass, and at the last second an unheralded freshman flanker named Matt Davison from Tecumseh grabbed it just before he hit the ground. It would be his play of a lifetime; a play for the entire season; a play perhaps for the century; maybe even a play for all-time. In the kicker went, and the stunned crowd prepared for an overtime test of strengths. Of course, all Cornhusker fans knew they had “dodged a bullet” and that the Huskers would prevail as they did in the November 8, 1997, thriller in Columbia, 45–38.

Football is very special to the state of Nebraska. Throughout the summer, Nebraskans jaw, cajole, and predict about the prospects of

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