YouTube Husker History Lesson – 1986 Fiesta Bowl

Here is some classic bowl footage as Nebraska takes on Michigan in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. It is from the Michigan perspective, which is fitting since they won the game, but it’s worth seven minutes of your time all the same.

I was actually at that game with my family as we spent Christmas and my 9th birthday in Tempe. It was an amazing atmosphere as two storied programs met and their Midwestern fans made the trek to the sun-drenched valley.

I remember a lot of what shows up in the highlights. First, it was definitely the era of exposed midriffs and towels hanging from the players’ pants. McCathorn Clayton started the game at QB, but was replaced later by freshman Steve Taylor, who wore #11. Michigan RB Jamie Morris ran all over us as our linebackers lumbered aimlessly. And Jim Harbaugh was quarterbacking Michigan in the days before he was busy talking shit about Pete Carroll.

Nebraska went 9-3 in 1985 (just like every other year in the 80s it seemed). We started the season 0-1 after a loss at home to FSU. We then rattled off nine straight wins and were ranked second as we headed to Norman to take on #5 ranked Oklahoma. Oklahoma was led by Jamelle Holieway, who took over for Troy Aikman (broken ankle), four games into the season. Aikman had been injured in OU’s only regular season loss, a 27–14 beating at Miami. The Sooners absolutely crushed us with Holieway at the helm, 27-7. They outgained us 423 yards to 161 and would have had the shut out, were it not for a Chris Spachman 76-yard interception return with 26 seconds remaining in the game.

After the OU loss, Nebraska dropped to #7 and would then meet fifth ranked Michigan in that Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead behind a 5-yard TD pass to Doug DuBose and a 3-yard TD run, also by DuBose. Everything fell apart for the Huskers, however, in the 3rd quarter. Sparked by two lost fumbles, a blocked punt and a short punt in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter Michigan’turned the 11-point deficit into a 27-14 lead. In the fourth quarter Nebraska scored on a 1-yard run by Taylor, but later his pass with under a minute remaining the game was intercepted.

Oklahoma would go on to win the National title in 1985. They met #1 Penn State in the Orange Bowl and came away with a convincing 25-10 win. Miami had gone to the Sugar Bowl ranked second hoping for a convincing win over SEC champ Tennessee to keep its title hopes alive should Penn State lose. Instead, the Hurricanes suffered their worst defeat of the year, 35–7.

Bo Jackson beat out Iowa QB Chuck Long for the 1985 Heisman.

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