Husker Look Back: 1985 Nebraska vs. Illinois

The Huskers got back on the winning track, defeating Illinois 52-25, back in 1985.

Sept. 21, 1985

Lincoln, Neb. -

Nebraska was anxious to get back on the field after a season-opening loss at home against Florida State followed by a bye week. NU had dropped in the national rankings from 10th to 18th after its loss to the Seminoles.

The Husker offense was smarting over scoring only 13 points against FSU and wanted to redeem itself against a solid Fighting Illini team that had a 2-1 record with their loss being to Southern California (10-20).

The Big Red came out firing on both sides of the ball. First it was I-back Doug Dubose who scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, then safety Chris Carr intercepted an Illinois pass and returned it 56-yards for a touchdown. The extra points after both TDs were successful by first-time starter Craig Schnitzler.

Schnitzler would tack on a 35-yard field goal to push the Husker lead to 17-0 and it looked as though NU was well on their way to an easy victory at home.

But as ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso would say….."Not so fast, my friend!"

Illinois had a talented quarterback in Jack Trudeau who later played ten seasons in the NFL. Trudeau led the Fighting Illini to a field and then passed for a touchdown to the cut the lead to 17-10 late in the first half.

Nebraska looked to answer and steal the momentum back, but only had a few minutes left before halftime. It needed a big play to get down the field and get into position to score a field goal or touchdown.

Husker quarterback McCathorn Clayton was not known for his passing and was only 1 of 5 in the game, but that one completion came at an opportune time.

Clayton found his split end Robb Schnitzler on a 64-yard pass play setting up a one-yard touchdown dive by DuBose in the final minute of the first half. DuBose would finish with a game-high 191 yards rushing on 26 carries, and included three touchdowns.

That touchdown ended any hopes of an Illinois comeback as it started a run of 28 unanswered points by the Huskers and resulted in a 52-25 win for NU.

While the Big Red offense found their scoring touch, rolling up 566 yards in total offense, its defense harassed Trudeau into four interceptions and recovered three Illini fumbles.

The victory also had special significance for two Husker players. It was the first time Nebraska had a brother tandem to score in the same game. Robb Schnitzler caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and brother Craig kicked seven PATS and a field goal.

Nebraska went on to finish their season with a 9-3 record, losing to Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. Illinois ended their year with a 6-5-1 mark which included a loss to Army in the Peach Bowl.


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Shane Gilster is the Editor of Big Red Report Magazine. His stories focus mainly on catching up with former Huskers and examining Nebraska athletic history.
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