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Published Monday, January 3, 2000

Huskers take no Volunteers
Nebraska wins Fiesta Bowl


Last modified at 1:17 a.m. on Monday, January 3, 2000
 

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photo: HuskersHQ
The Associated Press
Nebraska defenders (from the left) Mike Brown, Dion Booker and Julius Jackson tackle Tennessee running back Travis Henry in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl Sunday night.
By Terry Douglass
The Independent

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Thanks to Sunday night's victory over Tennessee in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Nebraska is now a 50-50 proposition in bowl games.

The No. 3-ranked Cornhuskers put the finishing touches on a 12-1 season with a 31-21 win over the Volunteers. It marked Nebraska's fifth win in it's last six bowl games and makes NU 19-19 in bowls overall and sent defensive coordinator Charlie McBride out a winner.

Following the game, McBride announced his retirement after 23 years at Nebraska -- 18 as the school's defensive coordinator.

It wasn't easy for the Huskers, who had to overcome Tennessee's second-half attempt to rally. Nebraska used drives of 96 and 99 yards to secure the victory.

"That is what Nebraska is known for," Nebraska coach Frank Solich said of the two long marches. "That is what this program has been known for for years and that's what we would like to continue to do."

photo: HuskersHQ
Associated Press Photo
Nebraska head coach Frank Solich holds up the Fiesta Bowl trophy.
The way Nebraska dominated the game in the second half earned the respect of Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer.

"I have to give a lot of credit to Nebraska because they're a very, very fine football team," said Fulmer, whose team trailed 17-0 in the first half. "And against a very fine football team like that, you can't spot them a 17-point lead and expect to win."

The Huskers won four straight postseason games prior to losing 23-20 to Arizona last year in the Holiday Bowl that left NU 9-4 in Solich's first season.

Nebraska's best Fiesta Bowl memories come from the 1996 game when the No. 1 Huskers captured the 1995 national championship with a 62-24 bashing of second-ranked Florida. The 38-point margin was the second largest ever in a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup and gave Nebraska back-to-back national titles.

NU trailed 10-6 after the first quarter against Florida, but scored 29 unanswered points and rolled on for the victory. The Huskers rushed for a NCAA bowl-record 524 yards in that contest, including 199 yards rushing by quarterback Tommie Frazier, who won most valuable player honors.

Defensively, the Blackshirts dominated the Gators' famed "Fun 'N' Gun" offense. The Huskers recorded seven sacks, forced four turnovers, had a safety and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Nebraska's first four trips to the Fiesta Bowl weren't as festive. The Huskers lost to Arizona State (17-14) in 1975, Michigan (27-23) in 1986, Florida State (31-28) in 1988 and again to Florida State (41-17) in 1990.

Sun Devil Stadium -- the home field for Arizona State -- has historically been a difficult place for Nebraska to win. Besides the bowl losses, the Huskers had a 26-game winning streak snapped with a 19-0 loss to ASU in 1996.

The 2000 Fiesta Bowl featured a rematch of the 1998 Orange Bowl, which Nebraska won 42-17. It was the only previous meeting between the two teams prior to Sunday's game. That win capped a 13-0 season and gave the Cornhuskers a share of the 1997 national championship.

Tennessee rebounded to win the national title last season in the Fiesta Bowl against Florida State.

Nebraska was playing in its NCAA best 31st consecutive bowl game Sunday night. The Huskers have played in 38 bowl games overall, which ranks fifth all-time behind Alabama (50), Tennessee (40), USC (39) and Texas (39).



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