On January 2, 1984, my life changed. Many people can point to important moments in their life where they reevaluated the world around them and that represented significant turning points between the future, and the newly ancient past. 9/11, Kennedy assasination, the final Cheers episode. For me it was the 1984 Orange Bowl.
The undefeated, top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers were taking on the fourth-ranked, one-loss, Miami Hurricanes. (Back then a #1 vs. #4 championship game was not a shocking occurrence. Complain all you want about the BCS, the process of picking a national champion used to be worse)
Miami, 10.5 point underdogs, came out 17-0. They held onto this lead until Nebraska ran a fumblerooski for a touchdown. A FUMBLEROOSKI! One more touchdown and the Huskers were down 17-14 at half. Field goal, 17-17. Two touchdowns by Miami, 31-17. Touchdown Nebraska, 31-24. 4th and 8 from the 24 yard line. Backup tailback Jeff Smith takes the option pitch from Turner GillTouchdown Nebraska, 31-30… Extra point to come…
There were 48 seconds left. There was not yet overtime in college football. #2 Texas had been upset by Georgia in the Cotton Bowl. #3 had won unconvincingly over Michigan. Kicking the extra point would probably earn nebraska a tie. A tie would be enough to persuade voters to give Nebraska the national championship. Champions don’t play for ties. Nebraska went for two. Gill rolled out, tried to pass to Smith in the flat. Broken up beautifully by Miami’s diving Kenny Calhoun. Miami wins the game and the national championship.
On that day I became a Nebraska fan. I have seen them play a number of times at the Orange Bowl. Usually to get pounded by a Florida team. Though the last time I went I got to see the Nebraska defense lay a hurting on Peyton Manning playing his last college game.
I had never been to Nebraska though. Finally got there, Felt good.
Check out the end of the game on youtube. It is amazing. I found myself still cheering Smith on…