01 January 2009

Going For Two, After Twenty-Five Years

Well, so much for not posting for a while. I think the break I needed was from the almost-two-year-old who would rather hit my arms while I'm trying to type! :-)

Today is the 25th Anniversary of one of the foundational moments of my childhood. The voice in my head says, "Twenty-five years?" Yep. Twenty-five years ago tonight, the Cornhuskers went for two. The 1984 Orange Bowl, #1 and undefeated Nebraska played #5 Miami in their home stadium for the national championship game. That 1983 Nebraska team had the best offense in college football that year, possibly the greatest ever assembled (until this year's Oklahoma team, that is). They beat Minnesota 84-13. They crushed nearly every team they played, and I was nine years old and wanted to be Turner Gill when I grew up. (I still want to be Turner Gill when I grow up, but for vastly different reasons now.) But with 42 seconds left, Nebraska scored to make it 31-30. A tie probably would have given Nebraska the national championship, but Tom Osborne went for two, and the rest is history.

Here is a YouTube clip of that fateful series of plays at the end of the game. And here is a nice article in USA Today about the game.

What I remember is feeling great sadness that we didn't get the job done, but even greater pride that we took the honorable route and went for the win. Back then, there was no overtime in college ball, so it was a do-or-die choice, either way; you take the tie and the national championship, but also the knowledge that you took the easy way out, or you go for it all and risk losing everything. In all the years since, with Husker greatness in the '90s, Huskers betraying the Nebraska Way with criminal behavior, and of course the downfall of the dynasty in this decade, we've always pointed to this game as emblematic of all that is great about Nebraska Cornhuskers Athletics, all that we aspire to be and become.

Today, the Cornhuskers play Clemson in the Gator Bowl, and I get to watch it in Chicago with a bunch of Lutheran students from Clemson and their campus pastor, who is a good friend. It's going to be a real treat, and I hope they show the '84 Orange Bowl highlights as part of the broadcast, because it'll give me a chance

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