Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Yards to Glory: Rodgers' superb returns
By Adam Rittenberg
The Yards to Glory series today moves on to touchdowns scored between the 80-yard line and 61-yard line. There's a heavy dose of Nebraska in today's capsules, with a bit of Indiana and Michigan sprinkled in (sorry, Wolverines fans, you won't like it).
Let's take a look at the Big Ten-related capsules (Updated with Indiana capsule).
77. Johnny On The Spot
Johnny Rodgers' punt return leads to national title
Jan. 1, 1972: Defending champion Nebraska entered the game undefeated staring across at No. 2 Alabama and Bear Bryant, carrying an 11-0 record. This one was over quickly, though, courtesy of a Johnny Rodgers 77-yard punt return on the final play of the first quarter that put Nebraska up 14-0 on the way to a 38-6 win for a national title. The Huskers led 28-0 at the half after adding 14 points in the second quarter.
-- David Ubben
75. Tommie Boy
Tommie Frazier breaks tackles and Florida spirits
Jan. 2, 1996: Tommie Frazier's stampede through Florida epitomized Nebraska's physical mauling of the Gators in a Fiesta Bowl matchup that doubled as a de facto title game. It was a simple option right at the end of the third quarter, with Frazier keeping and cutting upfield. He encountered roughly half the Florida defense, but the Cornhuskers quarterback kept his legs driving and broke free for 75 yards. On TV, Jim Nantz sounded as though he'd given up on the play until Frazier suddenly and incomprehensibly was in the clear. "How many tackles can one man break?" Nantz shouted.
-- Pat Forde
72. Johnny Rocket
Johnny Rodgers thrills with another punt return
Nov. 25, 1971: No. 1 Nebraska didn't put away the 35-31 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma until late in the fourth quarter. But Johnny Rodgers' 72-yard punt return remains the iconic play of an iconic game, even though he made it in the first quarter. Rodgers used speed, balance, acrobatics and mojo to get through the Sooners. Their fans insist an illegal block helped, too. If Rodgers hadn't been so mesmerizing, the complaint might have gained traction. It never did.
-- Ivan Maisel
64. In The Buff
Colorado stuns Michigan in the Big House
Sept. 24, 1994: The day Kordell Stewart and Michael Westbrook hit the mute button on more than 100,000 fans in the Big House. With Colorado trailing Michigan 26-21, Stewart dropped back, rolled right and threw a missile more than 70 yards in the air as time expired. Receiver Blake Anderson tipped the pass out of the hands of Wolverines defensive back Chuck Winters, and Westbrook leaped to grab the deflection before landing in the end zone. The play was designed for Westbrook to do the tipping instead of the catching, but none of the Buffaloes quibbled with the result.
-- Pat Forde
63. Put It In Reverse
Eric Crouch catches a reverse pass
Oct. 27, 2001: It's known in Huskers lore as Black 41 Flash Reverse Pass, the moment that personified Eric Crouch's Heisman campaign. The Sooners know it as the play that ended their 20-game winning streak that included the national championship in 2000. Leading 13-10 midway through the fourth quarter, Crouch pitched to Thunder Collins, who handed it off to receiver Mike Stuntz, a true freshman and a former high school quarterback. Stuntz hit Crouch 40 yards downfield, and he went untouched the rest of the way for the 63-yard touchdown that provided the 20-10 final score.
-- David Ubben
62. Hoosier Stunner
Tim Wilbur leads Indiana to first bowl victory
Dec. 21, 1979: A play that began auspiciously ended beautifully for the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana trailed BYU 37-31 with 6:53 left in the 1979 Holiday Bowl when a BYU punt hit Indiana's Craig Walls in the back. Tim Wilbur collected the ball near the sideline and raced 62 yards untouched to the end zone for what turned out to be the winning score. Indiana stunned undefeated BYU 38-37 for its first bowl victory, capping its first winning season since 1968.
-- Adam Rittenberg
Also, check out the video of Rodgers' 77-yard punt return against Alabama.
Nebraska fans, which of these plays stands out most in Huskers' history?