(Tempe, Arizona - September 21, 1996) - To quote a popular song "Isn't it ironic?"
The same field that the Nebraska Cornhuskers found euphoria on early in January also hosted one of the most stunning defeats the team has experienced in many years.
The Arizona Sun Devils controlled nearly every facet of Saturday's game en route to a 19-0 shutout of the Huskers. ASU quarterback Jake Plummer passed for 292 yards and one touchdown, but Husker miscues had a major impact on the outcome.
Arizona State opened the game and the scoring on their opening drive, capped by a 25 yard pass from Plummer to Keith Poole only 3:22 seconds into the game. The Huskers misfired on their drive when a pitch from quarterback Scott Frost, intended for Ahman Green went bad. The ball was fumbled out of the side of the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 Sun Devil lead.
Arizona State scored again in the second period when Kicker Robert Nycz connected on a 27 yard field goal. The 12-0 lead brought the 50,000 plus Sun Devil fans to their feet. The crowd may have played a part in the next score.
Six minutes into the second stanza, Husker quarterback Scott Frost set up in a shotgun position. The crowd noise lead to some possible miscommunication between Frost and center Aaron Taylor. The ball was snapped before Frost was ready and sailed by him into the end zone. Frost fell on the ball leading to the second safety of the night.
A 44 yard field goal by Nycz with thirty seconds left in the half gave the Sun Devils a 17-0 lead.
The Huskers continued to struggle in the second half, while the Sun Devils also found themselves out of the end zone as far as the offense was concerned. A fourth quarter punt pinned the Huskers inside their own one yard line. Quarterback Scott Frost was sacked in the end zone for the third safety of the game and the final scoring of the game.
Husker backup quarterback Matt Turman entered the game with just over four minutes remaining and engineered one of the Huskers' better drives of the night. The drive ended, however, inside the ASU five yard line when Ahman Green fumbled and the Sun Devils recovered. Plummer ran out the remainder of the clock and the upset was done.
The game marked the first time the Huskers had been shutout in a regular season game since the 1973 Oklahoma game and ended the nations longest winning streak at 26.
Nebraska's defense had their moments in the game. Husker rover Mike Minter picked off his third interception of the year in the first quarter, and the blackshirts recorded six sacks in the game.
Sophomore I-Back Ahman Green led all rushers in the game with 87 yards on 20 carries, while Damon Benning added another 52 yards on 20 carries. In all the Huskers logged 130 rushing yards to ASU's 109.
The real statistical separation in the teams comes in the passing and turnover categories.
Sun Devil quarterback Plummer connected on 20 of 36 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown, while his Husker counterpart completed only 6 of 20 attempts for 66 yards. The Huskers dropped six fumbles in the game, losing three of them. The three safeties the Huskers were victim too was the worst number ever given up by a Nebraska team. In fact Nebraska had never given up more than two safeties in a season before Saturday's game.