Sept. 7, 1996
Nebraska Routs Michigan State 55-14
Top-ranked Nebraska began its quest for a historic third straight national championship by intercepting three passes and returning two for scores in a 55-14 rout of Michigan State.
Mike Minter picked off two of the passes and took one 84 yards into the end zone for the Cornhuskers, who extended their winning streak to 26 games.
"Overall a great start against what I thought was a pretty good football team coming in," said head coach Tom Osborne, who team plays Arizona State on September 21st. "We'll take these next two weeks to try to get better."
Nebraska, which has won 37 of its last 38 games overall and 37 straight regular season contests, can become the first team in college football to win three straight national titles.
"I don't remember a game where we scored as many times defensively and the kicking game," Osborne added. Naturally that led to a little bit of some lack of offensive production."
Stanford transer Scott Frost ran for one touchdown and threw for another in his debut as Nebraska's quarterback. He completed 5 of 12 passes for 74 yards and was not intercepted and rushed 10 times for 58 yards.
Frost, who replaces the departed Tommie Frazier, scored on an 11-yard option run to put Nebraska up, 7-0, after one quarter. Minter intercepted Todd Schultz at the Spartan 22 and the Cornhuskers capitalized with consecutive 11-yard runs by Ahman Green and Frost. Green carried 15 times for 71 yards.
"I felt in the flow of the game from the first snap on," said Frost. "With the fans and everything, we really get excited and sometimes ou almost get too emotional."
Mike Fullman had a dazzling 62-yard punt return for a touchdown to increase the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter. Fullman broke numerous tackles and nearly stumbled while racing up the left sideline for a score.
The Cornhuskers scored six defensive touchdowns in 1995 and added their first this year when Minter intercepted a pass by Gus Ornstein and raced past the goal line with 3:06 left in the second quarter for a 24-0 lead.
Ornstein had replaced Schultz, who suffered a sprained left knee in the first quarter. Ornstein completed 11 of 18 passes for 133 yards and was picked off twice.
Kris Brown added field goals of 35 and 24 yards to help the Huskers build a 27-0 halftime lead.
Green's one-yard touchdown run 2:36 into the second half added to the lead before Michigan State got on the board with a one-yard touchdown pass from Ornstein to Josh Keur.
Late in the third quarter, rush end Grant Wistrom picked off a screen pass from Ornstein and romped nine yards for a score as Nebraska built a 48-7 lead.
"The first thing (I thought) was I better not drop it," Wistrom said. "Then I was praying I wouldn't get caught from behind."
Backup Matt Turman threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Cheatam for a 55-14 yard cushion.
Sedric Irvin, who carried 15 times for 51 yards, scored on a one-yard run for the Spartans with 2:11 left. Irvin had rushed for four touchdowns last week in a 52-14 season-opening win over Purdue.
Nebraska won by a lopsided score despite outgaining the Spartans by a mere 306-246 margin.
The Cornhuskers have won 11 straight season openers since a 17-13 loss to Florida State in 1985.
Michigan State was trounced by Nebraska for the second straight year. The Cornhuskers won, 50-10, last September.
"Their defense is at least as good as or better than it was last year, and they're special teams played awfully good today," Spartans coach Nick Saban said. "I'm sure they'll have a run at another national championship and we wish them the best."
NCAAF FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- MICHIGAN ST 0 0 7 7 14 NEBRASKA (1) 7 20 21 7 55 FINAL SCORING SUMMARY 1ST QTR: NEBR - TD, SCOTT FROST 11 YD RUN (KRIS BROWN KICK), 6:55 2ND QTR: NEBR - FG, KRIS BROWN 35 YD, 3:01 NEBR - TD, MIKE FULLMAN 62 YD PUNT RETURN (KRIS BROWN KICK), 4:18 NEBR - TD, MIKE MINTER 84 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (KRIS BROWN KICK), 11:54 NEBR - FG, KRIS BROWN 24 YD, 14:09 3RD QTR: NEBR - TD, AHMAN GREEN 1 YD RUN (KRIS BROWN KICK), 2:36 MICS - TD, JOSH KEUR 1 YD PASS FROM GUS ORNSTEIN (CHRIS GARDNER KICK), 6:17 NEBR - TD, BRANDON HOLBEIN 35 YD PASS FROM SCOTT FROST (KRIS BROWN KICK), 13:28 NEBR - TD, GRANT WISTROM 9 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (KRIS BROWN KICK), 14:15 4TH QTR: NEBR - TD, KENNY CHEATHAM 30 YD PASS FROM MATT TURMAN (TED RETZLAFF KICK), 3:31 MICS - TD, SEDRICK IRVIN 1 YD RUN (CHRIS GARDNER KICK), 12:49 NCAAF 1 2 3 4 F - - - - -- Michigan St 0 0 7 7 14 Nebraska (1) 7 20 21 7 55 FINAL NEBR Frost 11 run (K Brown kick) NEBR FG K Brown 35 NEBR Fullman 62 punt return (K Brown kick) NEBR Minter 84 interception return (K Brown kick) NEBR FG K Brown 24 NEBR Green 1 run (K Brown kick) MICS Keur 1 pass from Ornstein (Gardner kick) NEBR Holbein 35 pass from Frost (K Brown kick) NEBR Wistrom 9 interception return (K Brown kick) NEBR Cheatham 30 pass from Turman (Retzlaff kick) MICS Irvin 1 run (Gardner kick) A 00000 MICS NEBR First downs 11 18 Rushed-yards 49-83 46-184 Passing yards 163 114 Sacked-yards lost 7-47 1-11 Return yards 44 255 Passes 14-27-3 7-14-0 Punts 11-38.8 6-43.8 Fumbles-lost 4-1 3-2 Penalties-yards 4-29 2-10 Time of possession 34:28 25:32
RUSHING Michigan St-Goulbourne 17-58, Irvin 15-51, Crenshaw 2-10, Hackenbracht 1-7, Reece 2-4, Gould 1-4, D Carter 1-minus 3, Burke 4-minus 10, Ornstein 6-minus 38. Nebraska-Green 16-71, Frost 10-58, Benning 8-35, Makovicka 3-19, Schuster 4-13, Sims 2-5, Evans 1-2, Turman 1-minus 3, Cheatham 1-minus 16.
PASSING Michigan St-Ornstein 11-18-2-133, Irvin 1-1-0-31, Burke 1-5-0-minus 1, Schultz 1-3-1-0. Nebraska-Frost 5-11-0-74, Turman 2-2-0-40, Perino 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING Michigan St-D Carter 3-45, Irvin 3-26, Long 2-61, D Mason 2-25, Keur 2-7, Goulbourne 1-0, Crenshaw 1-minus 1. Nebraska-Vedral 2-20, Holbein 1-35, Cheatham 1-30, Schuster 1-16, Edwards 1-10, Makovicka 1-3.