Kansas 1993

Nebraska's history with the two-point conversion is a lot like the two-point conversion itself — kind of wild, full of drama and usually memorable for all parties involved.

The Huskers were on the wrong side of maybe the most famous two-point conversion in the game's history. They've also been on the right side of their share; conversions that led to program-defining wins and the start of memorable eras.

With only one season under Scott Frost and his staff as an example, it's difficult to draw many conclusions as to how the Huskers will use the two-point conversion going forward. But if Nebraska's future with the play is anything like it was under Frost's mentor, Tom Osborne, NU could be in for some memorable games.

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1984 Orange Bowl vs. Miami

Instead of kicking an extra point for a tie that would have all but ensured Nebraska winning the national championship, Osborne went for two against upstart Miami. Quarterback Turner Gill took the snap and rolled right, but had his pass intended for Jeff Smith was tipped away by the Hurricanes’ Ken Calhoun. Miami’s dynasty was born. And Osborne and the Huskers would have to wait 11 years for their revenge.

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For all the flash in Nebraska's offensive scheme, offensive coordinator Troy Walters said during fall camp that the Huskers' library of two-point conversion plays largely come from NU's base sets.

That makes sense, in several ways. When your quarterback is Adrian Martinez, there probably isn't a big need to get fancy. And when you need two points, you better be able to execute.

"This fall camp we really want to emphasize situational football — third downs, coming out in goal line, red zone — so that's a point of emphasis," Walters said. "So we'll have our packages of two-point plays and work on them during the fall."

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1995 Orange Bowl vs. Miami

Revenge for NU was sweet. Near the same spot in the same end zone as 1984, Tommy Frazier rolled right and threw a dart that stuck in the chest of tight end Eric Alford and tied the game at 17. Cory Schlesinger scored his second touchdown about 5 minutes later, and the rest is history.

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Nebraska went for two four times in 2018, converting three of them. All three conversions involved Martinez — two passes and one run. The quarterback ran one in against Northwestern in the fourth quarter to give NU a 28-14 lead after Barret Pickering had missed an extra point earlier in the game.

He completed a pass to Stanley Morgan as part of the Huskers' 53-28 blasting of Minnesota.

And his most impressive conversion was a scrambling completion to Kade Warner to tie Iowa at 28 with 3:22 left in the regular-season finale.

Most, if not all of those attempts, came by the book. Like most teams, Walters said, Nebraska has a chart that tells the coaching staff when to go for two and when to kick based on time and score.

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Nov. 6, 1993, at Kansas

After June Henley scored a touchdown with 52 seconds left to pull the underdog Jayhawks to 21-20, KU coach Glenn Mason parked the freshman running back, who had 148 yards rushing, on the sideline and called for a pass that missed the mark. Nebraska went on to finish the regular season undefeated before losing to Florida State in the 1994 Orange Bowl (a game that featured a failed two-point try by each team), setting the stage for one of the great runs in college football history.

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Nebraska will also, on occasion, take a look at going for two when it isn't needed. Even when the kicking team is on the field. The Huskers have exotic formations for the kicking unit to line up in, just to see how the opponent reacts.

"And if the opposing defense doesn't line up the way they should," Walters said, "we'll run a play and try to get two out of it. So there's times we're going to be aggressive."

As much as the chart helps, if Nebraska's coaches get a notion, they won't be afraid to go off the script.

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Oct. 8, 1994, vs. Oklahoma State

Nebraska’s second two-point conversion in a 32-3 win was the result of a botched PAT kick that ended with holder Jon Vedral throwing the ball to kicker Darin Erstad. Vedral fumbled the snap, chased it down, and as he was being tackled, threw the ball up for Erstad, who caught it at the goal line. Then-play-by-play man Kent Pavelka’s reaction helped make this one memorable, as he yelled “Double extra point! Double extra point!” after Erstad crossed the goal line.

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Frost, of course, cut his teeth in Eugene, Oregon, which became the unofficial home for the two-point conversion as the Ducks rose to prominence. But through his first three seasons as a head coach, Frost has been much less liberal in going for two.

During Central Florida's undefeated 2017 season, the Knights went for two just three times. Their only conversion came on their first touchdown of the season. In 2016, Frost's Knights converted three two-point conversions. If the head man was influenced by his time at Oregon, he hasn't shown it yet.

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Sept. 17, 2016, vs. Oregon

In front of a rabid Memorial Stadium crowd, Oregon scored five touchdowns, went for two after all five, and failed to convert four of them as the Huskers won 35-32. Pretty easily the high point of the Mike Riley era.

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As Nebraska's offense evolves, and becomes more familiar to the players running it, aggressive play-calling only figures to increase. This is, of course, the same program that executed a fake punt on its 9-yard line at Iowa last season. 

If the situation calls for it, and sometimes because the coaches want to spark a fire, Nebraska will keeps its foot on the gas after scoring a touchdown.

"We're going to play to win. And (Frost) is aggressive in his play-calling, aggressive when we're going to go for it," Walters said. "If they give us the look we want, we're going to take advantage of it."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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