The Last Time It Happened: Oct. 31, 1998

Nebraska has won a phenomenal 73 of 74 home games in 10+ years at Lincoln, but the school that gave the ‘Huskers their lone black eye during that span is, of course, returning this Saturday for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

Unranked Texas snapped the nation's longest active winning streak and the fifth-longest in NCAA history (47 games) with its 20-16 win on October 31, 1998. Although the Heisman Trophy is not presented until December, Halloween was the day former Longhorn RB Ricky Williams won the coveted award, head coach Mack Brown recalled.

"It was the only time I remember (Ricky) making a public statement about the other team," Brown said. "The Blackshirts (Cornhusker defense) said they were going to stop Ricky Williams like they did Barry Sanders, and they had a list of six guys who had gotten just 30 yards against them in Lincoln. But I turned on ESPN and there was Ricky saying, ‘They've got their problems, too, because I'm pretty good and we're going to run the ball on them.' I ran downstairs to him and said, ‘What are you doing?' To his credit, he said ‘I want us to be confident going into this football game. I don't want everybody to think it's just about Nebraska. It's about Texas, too."

Williams ran for 150 yards and QB Major Applewhite completed 14-of-29 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns against a Cornhusker team that was ranked No. 7 nationally and No. 19 in total defense. Meanwhile, the Longhorn defense held Nebraska to 311 total yards that afternoon after it had been averaging 412.5.

"One of the top ten things that has ever happened to me was standing on the field after the game with Ricky Williams and thinking that the fans would throw things at him because it's a little scary at Nebraska," Brown said. "They've got these little ropes that keep the fans from getting in to your area walking off the field. With security now, it scares you to death with gambling, drinking, and fans at games go crazy. I actually told Ricky to put his helmet back on and keep his head down, because I wasn't sure what kind of reaction we were going to get."

The reaction was this: Cornhusker fans remained in the stands and gave Williams a standing ovation.

"They started chanting, ‘Heisman! Heisman!'," Brown said. "I've never been impressed with a group of fans on the road like I was with the Nebraska fans. I know they hadn't seen anyone beat them in so long they usually cheer (at the end) because they'd won every game. To their credit, they could have been totally devastated after the loss, but they gave that kid a standing ovation. I told him, ‘Look up', as we were walking off because it was unbelievable. I don't think that happens any more in college football."

Brown was so impressed with the fan reaction that he called Darrell Royal from the locker room.

Royal's response was that it should be a message to all college football fans that if you're playing against somebody who plays exceptionally, then give the other team credit.

"For somebody to beat somebody in Lincoln is really hard to do because nobody does it, " Brown added. "If Iowa State had beaten us Saturday, we ought to compliment them. (The win at Nebraska) was one of the great moments for me, and for college football, because of the sportsmanship. I will always appreciate the Nebraska fans because of it."

[Editor's note: Mark Kissinger's technical analysis column will return next week after a one-week hiatus.]

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