Eric Crouch (7) turns the corner for the winning touchdown in overtime, just beating Notre Dame's Tony Driver to the pylon in South Bend, Ind.

LJS file photo

The distance: 7 yards

The star: Eric Crouch

The date: Sept. 9, 2000

The outcome: Huskers 27, Notre Dame 24, OT

The story: It is a game remembered as much for Husker fans as anything.

“Notre Dame might feel a little bit like they’re in a road game,” said NBC play-by-play man Craig Minervini, the cameras showing venerable Notre Dame Stadium colored in red. “A very unusual thing to say right here at their own stadium. Nebraska had only 4,000 tickets allotted but obviously they picked up a few others.”

“Yeah, some Notre Dame fans sold their tickets,” chimed in Pat Haden, then the NBC color analyst for Notre Dame football, now the USC athletic director. “It’s incredible. More red than green.”

Skip Bayless, then a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote: “This will be remembered as the Saturday when the only green that mattered to many Notre Dame ticket-holders was the color of money. On Sept. 9, 2000, a priceless tradition finally had a price — up to 500 bucks a ticket.”

“I am embarrassed,” Notre Dame legend Paul Hornung said on the Nebraska radio network, surveying the scene from the press box.

As for the actual game? Well, that wasn't half bad itself.

Nebraska entered the contest No. 1 in the country, a far superior team in most aspects. But porous special-teams play almost did the Huskers in.

Despite holding a 377-224 advantage in total yards, Nebraska found itself tied at 21 after back-to-back returns by Notre Dame — the first a 100-yard kickoff  return by Julius Jones, the second an 83-yard punt return by Joey Getherall.

Suddenly, Nebraska was the team that risked being embarrassed under the shadow of Touchdown Jesus.

"I wasn't worried about Notre Dame mystique or legends," Nebraska running back Dan Alexander said after the game. "I was worried about their players."

The game went to overtime. Notre Dame got the ball first and put up a field goal.

The biggest play of the day would come on Nebraska’s possession — a third-and-9 play from the 24-yard line. Eric Crouch whistled a pass into tight coverage. Tracey Wistrom caught it at the stick. First down.

Two plays later, the ball at the 7, Crouch faked the give to fullback Willie Miller, and raced around left end, just inside the pylon.

“That is kind of a bread-and-butter play for us,” Crouch said in the postgame interviews. “There is no other option on that play but for me to run it."

Running through the end zone, Crouch spun the ball on the ground as teammates ran to mob him.

All and all, not a bad day for old Nebraska football: A win and a picture good enough for a frame. Notre Dame’s grand stadium awash in red.

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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