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  1. 2010 Jul 13

    Ranking NU Teams Since 1980: No. 20

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    By HuskerLocker

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    In July, we’ll be ranking all 30 of Nebraska teams since 1980, worst to first. Be sure to keep track and argue along the way. Remember, too, to visit our 30 best games and 30 best players series since 1980, as well. Enjoy!

    1985 Nebraska

    Overall Record (Big 8/12): 9-3/6-1
    Titles won: None
    All-Americans: Center Bill Lewis and Defensive tackle Jim Skow, 1st-team All Americans

    Summary: Here was a team in a bit of a transition from the first truly great run of the Tom Osborne era (1982-1984) to the shorter one that would follow (1987-88). It took NU nearly the entire season to locate a suitable quarterback, as Osborne finally settled on Steve Taylor - in the second half of the bowl game! Before then, he vacillated between McCathorn Clayton, Travis Turner and Taylor, never quite finding the right signal caller to execute his option attack. Fortunately, Osborne had a fleet of excellent running backs - led by I-backs Doug DuBose and Paul Miles and fullback Tom Rathman - to help him out. NU’s passing game was odd, to say the least; the Huskers only completed 55 passes the whole season, but did so for 1,080 yards, a nearly 20-yard average per completion.

    NU started the season on a smoldering hot day - 133 degrees on the Memorial Stadium floor - with a 17-13 loss to Florida State. The Huskers lost two fumbles and Clayton threw an interception as FSU - as it often did vs. Nebraska - capitalized on the errors and squeezed out a small win. From there, NU coasted over three relatively average non-conference opponents - Illinois, Oregon and New Mexico - before beating No. 5 Oklahoma State in Stillwater 34-24. The difference? Clayton had his best passing performance of the season (161 yards, no picks) and OSU committed four turnovers.

    The following week in Columbia, kicker Dale Klein tied a NCAA record hitting seven field goals in a 28-20 win over Missouri. DuBose rushed for 199 yards. NU nipped Colorado on Homecoming 17-7 thanks to Rathman’s 84-yard touchdown in the third quarter, the longest ever for a Husker fullback.

    Nebraska handled the weak trio of Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State and arrived in Norman ranked No. 2 to play No. 5 Oklahoma. The Sooners scored off an Keith Jackson tight end reverse to take a 7-0 lead en route to a 27-7 pounding that arguably wasn’t as close as the score. OU won the national title that season while the Huskers headed to the Fiesta Bowl for the first time in a decade.

    And despite outgaining Michigan by more than 100 yards, Nebraska lost 27-23 thanks to four turnovers and a handful of bonehead plays. NU led 14-3 at halftime then trailed 27-14 after the third quarter before Osborne inserted Taylor and mounted a late comeback that fell short when Taylor overthrew his receiver by 30 yards, and the Wolverines intercepted it in the end zone.

    For the year, the Huskers’ strength was the backfield and the defense, which gave up just 279 yards per game. Skow had 15 sacks, while Danny Noonan pitched in 11. The Blackshirts forced 38 turnovers, nullified to some extent by NU’s offense losing 20 fumbles and throwing one interception per 14 attempts.

    The Huskers’ schedule in 1985 - at least the teams NU beat - was not remarkable; the best of the foes was Oklahoma State, which finished 8-4. Mizzou and Kansas State combined for two wins.

    Highlight: The win in Stillwater. It was the Huskers’ most complete performance.

    Lowlight: In the loss to OU, Nebraska had a first-and-goal inside the Sooners’ 5-yard line. And scored nothing.

    Check out the rest of the list!

    No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22, No. 21

    Tags: 30 best teams since 1980, tom rathman, doug dubose, jim skow, danny noonan

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