We’ve heard a lot this season about 1962, the year Bob Devaney arrived in Lincoln, and the year Nebraska’s remarkable home sellout streak began.
How about some love for 1959?
Yes, it’s been 50 years since that, um, 4-6 season under Bill Jennings.
But one game that fall stands out.
Nebraska 25, Oklahoma 21.
That stunning victory in Lincoln ended big, bad Oklahoma’s 74-game conference unbeaten streak, an NCAA record. It ended the Sooners’ 16-game winning streak against Nebraska.
“It was just a great game start to finish, pretty much,” said Don Fricke, a Nebraska captain who played fullback and linebacker that day.
“One of the things that I look back on now, really, the foundation that day was laid for the 300 games and all of that. Devaney got here and the barn was full, so it really worked out great.”
Thirty-three members of that Nebraska team celebrated the anniversary of their upset with a reunion and dinner Friday night. They were introduced before Saturday night’s game at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s fantastic,” Fricke said, crediting Harry Tolly, quarterback of the ’59 team, for organizing the reunion.
Ron Meade intercepted a pass in the end zone that sealed Nebraska’s victory. Fans stormed the field and tore down the goal posts. Classes were even canceled the following Monday to celebrate.
“But we had practice and stuff like that,” Fricke said, “so it wasn’t like it was a big vacation, but it was a fun time.”
Did Nebraska players that day feel they had a realistic shot of beating the Sooners?
“Oh, I don’t know as we did,” Fricke said. “But that was one of those seasons where we were beating the big guys and losing to the guys we shouldn’t lose to.”
It should be noted that Fricke played another interesting role in Nebraska football history. The Hastings native introduced Tom Osborne to his future wife, Nancy. Fricke was a sophomore on the Hastings High football team the year Osborne was a senior on the team.
“When Tom had returned to town from his pro exploits and going to graduate school, we just went out on a double date one night,” Fricke said.
How’s that for history?
* Loved how some fans let go of their balloons after Alex Henery’s 66-yard punt in the first quarter. Hey, the change in field position was as much of a score at the time as anything.
* Always great to see Barry Switzer in the house. He received a loud ovation when introduced before the Memorial Stadium crowd. Who in 1987 thought that would’ve ever happened?
Reach Brian Rosenthal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 473-7436.