On Friday night, the day before the Cornhuskers' home opener
against No. 13 UCLA, the school held a pep rally at Memorial Stadium,
the first one anybody in Lincoln could recall being held in the
stadium. More than 35,000 fans turned out to watch a fireworks
display and the unveiling of two 17-by-23-foot video screens mounted
atop the stands at the southeast and northwest corners of the
stadium, $3.8 million worth of electronics paid for by 15 corporate
sponsors. But if the near-midnight madness and nifty closed circuitry
left a suggestion that Nebraska was entering an era of hype and high
tech, it vanished 17 hours later when the second-ranked Big Red
rolled to a typically low-glitz and enormously impressive 49-21
Before a crowd of 75,687 -- Nebraska's 196th straight sellout --
the Huskers relied on the staples of powers past: an explosive
I-back, a battering offensive line and an option quarterback with a
gift for split-second decisions. As a true freshman a year before,
Lawrence Phillips had replaced starter Damon Benning and rushed for
137 yards against UCLA, which is only 30 miles from his California
home in West Covina. This time he raced for a career-best 178 yards
on 19 carries, including a 60-yard burst of speed and power down the
sideline that set up a crucial third-quarter touchdown. He broke free
around left end and finished by dragging one Bruin defender five
yards and bulling over a second to gain five more. ''The best run of
my career,'' the 6-foot, 200-pound Phillips called it.
''I told myself I wasn't going to watch any replays,'' said
Nebraska assistant coach Frank Solich, referring to the big new video
screens. ''But I did sneak a peek at that one.''
Tom Osborne certainly liked what he saw. ''A lot of talent,'' he
said of Phillips, ''and getting better.''
The offensive line uprooted the Bruins for 484 yards rushing, the
highest mark against UCLA in the ''modern era'' of the school. ''That
was the most fun I've ever had on a football field,'' said Nebraska
guard Joel Wilks. ''We'd just smash them off the ball, drive them
back 10 yards, get up and celebrate.''
UCLA linebacker Donnie Edwards was stunned by the Huskers' show of
force. ''It seemed like they had a blocker on everybody,'' Edwards
said. ''Like their whole line would get out on all fours and crawl.
They were trying to cut everybody. It was difficult coming from the
back side because I'd have to jump over people. I can't believe how
far down the field their line was.''
And quarterback Tommie Frazier lived up to the pregame praise of
UCLA coach Terry Donahue, who had placed him in ''the elite class of
athletes in college football.'' Frazier deftly directed the attack,
checking off to take advantage of the Bruins' unbalanced D, summoning
up a marvelous medley of countersweeps, draws and dives.
Even though Frazier himself amassed only 88 yards in total
offense, Donahue heightened his appraisal after seeing the QB operate
up close and on AstroTurf. ''He's the type of player that makes your
whole football team totally different,'' Donahue said, ''a Michael
Even though Bruin quarterback Wayne Cook was intercepted twice by
the Nebraska defense, he saved most of his superlatives for the Big
Red offense. ''They are tough,'' Cook said. ''I'll tell you what,
when we were on the sidelines and I'd watch their offense, it was
awesome. They just don't seem to have a weak point. If they're
going to get beat, it's going to be because of their defense.'' --
This is an article from the Jan. 17, 1995 issue