800 and counting

Since 1890 the Nebraska football program has cemented itself as one of the premier programs in the country. Throughout its storied history, it has broke records and surpassed one milestone after another. Against Kansas State Saturday evening, the team surpassed another as it reached 800 wins. It is, according to one particular fan, one of many marquee moments in Husker history they have seen.

October 14, 2006 – the Huskers win their second road game in a row and move to 6-1 on the season, 3-0 in the Conference with a 21-3 win over Kansas State University.  A very big win for this team and a springboard into what looks like the toughest part of their schedule.  A good start for the 2006 football season and it has raised the hopes of many Husker backers.  Most fans got to see the game on TV and were left with a good feeling that things are finally being turned around.

What seemed to be lost in this particular win was the fact that Nebraska had just won their 800th football game in their long and storied history.  There were no highlights on ESPN about this monumental accomplishment.  I ask "why?"

When the day began, there were only three universities that had 800 total victories – Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas.  When the day was over, the Cornhuskers joined that group!  Think of all the football games that have been played over the decades and Nebraska is now amongst the group.  That is pretty impressive company to be in and it seems like a network like ESPN could have spent a second or two to put that into it's proper perspective.

I have been fortunate enough to be around a little longer than most fans and have seen my share of those 800 wins.  Most of you might think that I have seen them all, but that really isn't the case.  It is also true that since 1962, when Bob Devaney walked into Lincoln, we have seen over half (434) of those 800 wins.  Not a bad time to be a Husker football fan.  I would love to say I remember all of those wins with a crystal clear memory, but that would just be impossible.  There are a few that really stick out in my mind as a fan, and  here are 10 games that I attended during that period that seem to stand out for various reasons:

- September 22, 1962 – Bob Devaney coached his first game for Nebraska, the start  of a remarkable run.  Being at the stadium that day was something very special.  South  Dakota was not much of a foe, but there was a different feeling in the air.  The fans also  saw a forward pass or two, something Nebraska  always used to just defend.
- December 20, 1969 – My first Bowl game.  Georgia was the opponent and the Sun Bowl was the site.  The Huskers won that game 45-6 and Paul Rogers was kicking field goals from all over the field.  What was special about this game was what the future held.  We got a glimpse of some very good football coming very soon.

- September 8, 1973 – Tom Osborne's first game against UCLA.  What was going to happen after Devaney retired was the question on everyone's mind.  Tony Davis was the starting I-Back as the Huskers rolled the Bruins 40-13.  It seemed like Nebraska will not lose a thing with the coaching change.  A great win for the program and a first time coach.

- November 11, 1978 – The Huskers beat Oklahoma for the first time under Tom Osborne!  The stadium was rocking that day.  The (Tom) Ruud hit on Kelly Phelps is a sight and sound I will never forget!  Too bad we had a rematch with OU in the Orange Bowl that year.

- September 24, 1983 – UCLA in town again.  Nebraska and the scoring explosion take them down 42-10.  The "run" by Mike Rozier made every sports highlight film after that game.

- October 24, 1992 – The game was at Columbia, Missouri and Tommie Fraizer made his first start as a Husker.  It was not his most outstanding game, but again, the future was clear and we had a great leader for the next few years.  We won that game 34-24 and flashes of greatness were apparent.

- November 8, 1997 – Again, another game in Columbia and it turned out to be Nebraska's first overtime game ever.  The "Miracle in Missouri" had it all!  Corby Jones was almost unstoppable and NU could not put the Tigers away.  What I remember most was not the kick, but the final play of the game.  Our two rush end (Grant Wistrom and Mike Rucker) sacked Jones Both Wistrom and Rucker were from Missouri!

- September 8, 1998 -  Frank Solich's first game as Nebraska's new Head Coach against Louisiana Tech.  More questions, because of a new coach, but the game was won 56-27.  The concern after this game was the HUGE amount of passing yards that the Blackshirts gave up – left a lot of heads shaking.

- September 2, 2000 – A home game against San Jose State.  It was not much of a game but it was the hottest game I had ever attended!

- September 4, 2004 – Home opener against Western Illinois with another new Head Coach.  The Huskers win again 56-17 and the fans seems pleased with the new offense that Bill Callahan puts on the field.

These are just 10 of many great games I attended over the last 40-plus years.  I have attended many more both at home and on the road and am very proud to be a Husker fan.  To me, last night was more than just a win – it was a win that put us into an elite group of college football teams.  We are one of four.

Remember last night.  What you were doing? Where you were at? Someday this story can be told to grandchildren and all other future Husker fans!  Saturday night was a piece of history that most college football fans will never see.  As great as this win was for the 2006 team and fans, it meant just as much for the Nebraska football program. 

My congratulations go out to all of the past players and past coaches that have made this Husker program one of the best in the country for so long!  Being one of the elite programs in the country cannot be accomplished without the fan base either.  The fans have a right to be proud of the team they follow so faithfully.  800 wins is something to be very proud of and only four schools have that right.

Nebraska takes the field at home next Saturday against the University of Texas.  It will be a great game and it will also be a game against two teams that belong to the 800 club!  Seems kind of ironic that Nebraska will be going after 801 against one of the four winningest programs in the country!

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