Ricky Williams ran into history in 1998
June, 6, 2012
By David Ubben | ESPNDallas.com
For all the bad blood spilled upon Nebraska's exit from the Big 12 and farewell tour throughout the 2010 season, Texas coach Mack Brown couldn't stop citing his most memorable interaction with the Huskers.
Ricky Williams walked into Memorial Stadium and into the Sea of Red, and walked out with an upset win and 150 yards rushing. The Huskers' invincibility -- also known as a 47-game home winning streak -- was gone. Nebraska fans knew what they had just seen, but had to show their respect. They chanted more than just Williams' first name, which became the name by which most remember him.
They resorted to another name.
AP Photo/Eric GayDuring Ricky Williams' record-breaking 1998 season, among his most memorable runs was this 60-yarder for a touchdown against rival Texas A&M.
"Heis-man! Heis-man! Heis-man!" they chanted.
They were right. Ricky took home sports' most prestigious award that season, and takes the No. 3 spot on our list of the greatest individual seasons of the past 50 years of college football. Ricky rumbled his way to 2,124 yards that season, averaging just under 200 yards a game, and became the first player in NCAA history to top 300 yards twice in a single season. He scored 29 rushing touchdowns, setting a Big 12 record that still stands.
Williams was an eccentric personality off the field, but commanded respect on it. Never was that command more evident than during the 1998 season when he helped the burnt orange start Brown's tenure off in memorable fashion. Perhaps no run was more memorable than Williams' 60-yard touchdown run in the rivalry win against Texas A&M.
He needed just 11 yards to set the NCAA career rushing record, but Williams broke three tackles and did it in style, providing the nation with his "Heisman moment" and joining Earl Campbell as the second Heisman winner in Texas history.
Late in the first quarter, Williams spun through a pair of blocks by tackle Leonard Davis and guard Roger Roesler, using a couple more blocks before sprinting down the left sideline and running through safety Rich Coady at the Aggies' 12-yard line. He broke one more tackle as he reached the end zone, and the game was briefly stopped to recognize Williams' new spot in the record books.
"I had a smile on my face after I broke that one tackle. I knew I had broken the record," Williams told reporters after the game.
He also collected the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and became the first two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award.
Williams left Texas with one of the most memorable careers in the history of the game, rushing for 1,000 yards in all four seasons in Austin. None was greater than his last, though, and only two seasons in the past 50 years were better than Williams' 1998 campaign.
"It's been a special year because of Ricky Williams. He is the best player I have ever seen. I think he is one of the best, if not the best college football player ever," Brown said of Williams.