It’s impossible to deny that as a Nebraska fan your most vivid and invigorating memories of modern day Husker football likely feature the ‘original’ Orange Bowl. Today, it was announced that the Miami Hurricanes will move to Pro Player Stadium, located on Dan Marino Blvd., in fall 2008. But I’ll touch on that in a bit.
Although the ‘Orange Bowl’ has been played at Pro Player since 1996, it’s sad to think, that once the Hurricanes relocate, we will no longer be able to watch a football game in Coral Gables, near the U. of Miami, and have random memories of Husker triumphs and sorrows course through our minds.
From 1953 to 1963 and then 1975 to 1994, the Orange Bowl has hosted the Big 8 champion vs. an at-large opponent. In 1994, the inaugural Bowl Alliance matched Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, Warrick Dunn, and Derrick Brooks against the #1 ranked and 17 point underdog Nebraska Cornhuskers, who boasted the likes of Tommie Frazier, Lawrence Phillips, and Trev Alberts. It is fair to say that this game bolstered Nebraska over the next decade back to the college football elite.
Here is a great recap of that game from an FSU perspective. Although they fail to touch on the phantom flag and the obvious fumble, after the 80s and early 90s of being humiliated against big foes, it still brings chills.
Finally, one year later, the ’95 Orange Bowl brought us back on top…
Back to the issue at hand Mayor Diaz offered the University $206 million for upgrades and renovations for the Orange Bowl. Unfortunately, University of Miami president Donna Shallala turned it down, stating:
“Mayor Diaz and the commissioners of the City of Miami made an extraordinary effort to identify funds and design a renovation. But in the end it wasn’t enough.”
Wow, I guess 70 years as one of college football’s grandest stages just isn’t enough. Athletic Director, Paul Dee’s thoughts were even more disturbing:
“We are committed to providing the best facilities for our student-athletes and fans. The decision to move to Dolphin Stadium was made for that reason. Our student-athletes will be playing in one of the best facilities in the country and the ‘fan experience’ will be first-class.”
HEY, Dolphin Stadium is 20 YEARS OLD! But, enough about that.
Since 1955, Nebraska has played in 16 Orange Bowls. Bob Devaney won his first championship there in 1970 after beating LSU 17-12. The following year, to the dismay of Kirk Herbstreit, the best team ever, the 1971 Huskers, dismantled Alabama and Bear Bryant 38-6 (the Bear’s worst defeat in his career at U. of Alabama). Whether it was Nebraska losing to Clemson in 1982 costing Osborne his first championship or Oklahoma exacting revenge on us in the 1979 Bowl (only ever Big 8 rematch in a Bowl), the memories are engraved in our heads whether you like it or not. The thick, humid air, the Orange Bowl patches on Big Red sleeves, and scores of Husker fans seeking a victorious beginning to another New Year, all fading before our eyes.
In closing, I pose a question for you. What is the one Orange Bowl moment that overtakes you with emotion unparalled by anything else? Well, this is mine…
Can you name the year of Nebraska’s first Orange Bowl visit, who they played, and the outcome of that game?
…still thinking? (I would challenge any of your friends for a free beer to answer just one of these – no way anyone under 60 gets this right).
The Answer – 1955. Duke 34 – Nebraska 7.