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Oh, the wait.

The wait to get home. The wait for an answer: Who's No. 1?

After playing 12 games, winning 11 of them and with another ending in a tie, the 1970 Nebraska football team had to play the waiting game in the hours — actually days — following a 17-12 win against No. 5 LSU in the Orange Bowl.

Was the Cornhuskers' come-from-behind win good enough to propel them to No. 1 and the program's first national championship in the eyes of the voters?

On Monday, Alabama and Ohio State will play for a national championship. We'll know by the end of the fourth quarter who will be crowned national champion.

But in 1971, the No. 3 Huskers had to wait four days to see where they landed after No. 1 Texas lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl and No. 2 Ohio State lost to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

The Orange Bowl was the scene to Nebraska's first national championship. The Cornhuskers, however, had to wait four days for the official Associated Press poll release. Journal Star Library

Those losses cleared the way for Bob Devaney's crew, but there was some buzz that Notre Dame might leapfrog NU after knocking off the mighty Longhorns.

Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers were stuck in Miami (though, is that really a bad thing?) where it was 80 degrees. They were originally scheduled to take off from the airport at 2:03 p.m. Saturday, less than 18 hours after winning the Orange Bowl.

However, a weekend blizzard in Nebraska, where it was nearly zero degrees, stranded the team for two extra days in Florida, where the Huskers packed and unpacked multiple times.

The two greatest topics in Nebraska — Cornhusker football and the weather — had converged.

There was a lot of downtime at the hotel in Miami. Running back Jeff Kinney said he and several teammates talked at great length that Monday night about the AP poll.

"I was pretty confident," he said.

Creating more anxiety for the players and fans back home was Ara Parseghian.

The Notre Dame football coach pleaded his case for his Irish to be national champions. He pointed to Notre Dame's tough schedule and "greater challenge" in the bowl game.

"The automatic assumption that (Nebraska) should be No. 1 disturbs me," Parseghian said two days before the AP poll release.

Devaney fired back.

Nebraska football coach Bob Devaney (left) accepts the UPI's No. 1 trophy during a team banquet. Journal Star Library

"He's full of B.S. to make statements like that," Devaney said. "Notre Dame was only able to score a field goal against LSU on their own field. And I don't think Notre Dame would like to have another go-round with LSU.

"Parseghian is overlooking the two most important facts. We did better against our two common opponents, LSU and Southern Cal, and we are undefeated. They are not. It's as simple as that."

Still, some Husker players and coaches wondered.

"Yes, I was worried about the rating," Nebraska offensive assistant coach Mike Corgan said. "I was a little afraid that since Notre Dame was from a more heavily populated area it would make a difference. Our area didn't have many votes in the poll."

Conditions in Lincoln had improved for the team to get airborne Tuesday morning, and before taking off, the Associated Press made it official: Nebraska was No. 1.

Nebraska finished with 39 first-place votes. Notre Dame had eight.

"It's probably the greatest thing ever to happen to University of Nebraska athletics," Devaney told reporters.

When the team arrived in Lincoln — Devaney stayed in Florida to coach in an all-star game — about 250 fans were waiting at the snow-covered airport. Quarterback Terry Tagge and defensive lineman Willie Harper descended a ramp from the plane with the Orange Bowl trophy.

The Lincoln Journal packed a lot on the front page of its Sports section in the Jan. 6 paper. Dallas was a 2½-point Super Bowl favorite against Baltimore. The San Francisco Giants traded veteran infielder Ron Hunt to the Montreal Expos.

Splashed at the top was the headline, "Elation Starts as Waiting Ends."

"I was afraid Ara's comments might influence the voters," laughed Devaney. "I guess the writers are too smart to take some coach's word. The writers knew who was best."

The Jan. 11 edition of Sports Illustrated had a picture of Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theismann on the cover with the headline, "Notre Dame Stops Texas."

The final lines in Dan Jenkins' story, though, sat a little better with Big Red followers.

"As he (Tagge) held the ball up (after a touchdown against LSU) there in that heap, Nebraska considered itself No. 1, and on the basis of the won-lost evidence among the major contenders, it is hard to disagree.

"People will. Oh, will they. Texas … Ohio State … Notre Dame … even Stanford will say that on those given days football minds refer to — and on quite a number of them — they were the best team in the country. But on the given day which mattered the most, Nebraska, the forgotten team, taking advantage of some quaint circumstances, can say it last. And loudest."

Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.