The sight was ominous for the 75,453 at Memorial Stadium. With
Nebraska clinging to a 9-3 lead at halftime, quarterback Brook
Berringer climbed into a squad car and headed for the student health
center on the Lincoln campus. One week after a pummeling by the
Wyoming defense partially collapsed his left lung, Berringer had been
drilled again, this time by Oklahoma State. Not even the flak jacket
he was wearing could fully cushion the blow, delivered with about
five minutes remaining in the second quarter. ''I could feel right
away there was trouble,'' Berringer said later. ''It wasn't going to
be likely that I would be playing in the second half.''
After an exam at the health center, Berringer would need to have
his lung inflated again after the 30% to 40% collapse. So Tom Osborne
handed the controls of the second-ranked Huskers over to Matt Turman,
a 5 ft. 11", 165- pound sophomore from Wahoo, Neb., who had only
carried the ball seven times and thrown five passes in his career.
Turman wisely proceeded to hand the ball off to Lawrence Phillips,
who carried a career-high 33 times for a career-high 221 yards. That
was more than enough to bring the Cornhuskers an emotional 32-3
Not that Turman didn't contribute mightily. With the Huskers still
up 9-3 late in the third quarter, he directed a ground-bound
procession downfield. After Turman's two-yard gain to the Cowboy
five-yard line, 6 ft. 5", 260-pound defensive end Jevon Langford
roughed up the quarterback, drawing a personal- foul penalty that set
up Phillips's TD lunge on the next snap. If Langford wanted to test
Turman, the quarterback was ready.
Originally a defensive back, Turman had asked to be switched to
offense and played receiver before moving under center. ''I'm a tough
guy,'' he said after the game. ''That touchdown was big for the team.
You could see everybody had confidence that we could drive and score
whether I was the quarterback or not.''
On Nebraska's next possession Turman found Abdul Muhammad with a
23-yard pass -- his only completion in four attempts -- and once
again Phillips took the ball into the end zone, this time from seven
yards out. ''It became an inside-run drill,'' said Oklahoma State
coach Pat Jones. ''They just lined up and whipped us.''
The Huskers did nothing less on the other side of the ball, even
though starting safety Tony Veland spent the second half on the
sidelines, where he waited just in case he was needed as the
Without Tommie Frazier and with Berringer's future in doubt,
Osborne realized that against unbeaten Kansas State in Manhattan the
following week he might have to start the Wahoo Walk-on -- or, as he
was now being called, the Turmanator. ''Maybe we'll hold auditions,''
Osborne said. ''I know some (reporters) here who could audible.'' --
This is an article from the Jan. 17, 1995 issue