1994 Penn State/Nebraska

Its unfortunate that there is no playoff system. Had PSU not joined the Big 10, or had the Big 10 not stuck with their champion only going to the Rose Bowl, Penn State probably would have played Nebraska that year in the Orange Bowl. No PSU or NU fan will ever change their mind on who was the best, but here are a few points supporting NU for people who are neutral in their views. Nebraska was voted National Champion by the AP and Coaches Polls, by a fairly wide margin in both.

PSU was 12-0 vs opponents that finished with an overall record of 70-65-4 .51799%   PSU Link  for the next 9 stat comparisons
NU was 13-0 vs teams with an overall record of 78-71-3 .52303%                                   NU Link  for the next 9 stat comparisons

PSU had 8 teams it defeated, win at least half their games
NU had 9

PSU had no teams it defeated win more than 9 games
NU had 2

PSU played 4 teams during the regular season that went to bowls
NU played 5

PSU was 4-0 against ranked teams, #5,12, 14, 21  ( AP game time )
NU was 5-0 against ranked teams, at #2,  3, 13, 16, 24  ( AP game time )

PSU defeated 4 teams that finished the season ranked, one in the top 10 ( coaches only )   #11, 12, 13, 14( AP)  9,11,12,15 (C)
NU defeated 3 teams in the final polls, 2 in the top 6, at #3, 6, 19 (AP) 3, 6, 16  ( Coach)
PSU gave up 20 or more points in 8 games
NU gave up more than 17 points only 3 times, two of those being 21 points totals for the opponents in blowout wins for NU.

PSU average victory margin was 47-21,  26 points per game
NUs was 35-12,  23 points per game

PSU had 3 games it won by 7 or fewer points
NU had only one game it won by less than 10 points and that was vs Miami in the "neutral" Orange Bowl

Tougher conference?         
Big 8s record vs the Big 10 that year - 4-2, including wins vs Michigan and Wisconsin     Link
PSU was #1 in total offense, #1 in scoring offense  -- Link  for NCAA FBS teams in 1994 season, PSU and Nebraska - next 4 comparison
NU was # 5 in total offense, #6 in scoring offense, #1 rushing offense 
PSU played no team with an offense ranked in the top 15 in the country - D!A
NU played 3 offenses in the top 15 - D!A
PSU was # 70 in total defense
NU was # 4 in total defense, #2 in scoring defense, held 10 opponents to 17 points or less.
PSU played 3 teams with a defense ranked in the top 50 in the country - D1A
NU played 6 teams with a defense ranked in the top 50 in the country - D1A
PSU average time of possession was 27.22 - page 152, 1995 PSU football media guide
NUs was 33.59 - page 178, 1995 NU media guide

PSU lettered 63 players in 1994 - page 44, 1995 PSU football media guide
NU had 77, so don't let anyone tell you Penn State had some close games because of playing more players than  NU - page 77, 1995 NU FB Guide

PSU scored the winning points in one game with 57 seconds left, and another with just under 3 minutes - 1995 PSU media guide, game reviews
NU trailed in the 4th quarter only one game - Miami in the Orange Bowl, and only one other game in second half the entire season and that was for less than 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter, in 9 of 13 games they would not have needed to score in the second half to win  -  Link

PSU was ranked #1 for 2 weeks of the season and even those 2 weeks NU got more first place votes .(AP Poll)  - See below for the next 3 stats
NU was ranked #1 that year before PSU and was actually dropped to #2 behind Florida after winning a game 42-16.

PSU went ahead of NU in the AP poll after NU again won a game, but dropped in the poll for the second time after a win
NU and Colorado were splitting the votes in the polls, when NU beat undefeated #2 Colorado 24-7 they went back to #1

PSU was voted #1 for two straight weeks in Oct. 1994, with 19 first place votes each week
NU received 25 & 24 first place votes those 2 weeks and Colorado got 15 and 16. After NUs victory over CU, the Huskers got 33 1st place votes and PSU 28. Nebraska was already ranked #1 and ahead of PSU before PSU had 2 close games in early Nov.  Penn State fans try to say it was those 2 close games that dropped them to #2.  In reality they were #2 before those close games. By seasons end NU led 38-24 in first place votes, and after the bowl games 51.5 - 10.5.(AP) 
ditto  -->  http://articles.latimes.com/1994-10-31/sports/sp-56853_1_penn-state

Penn state decided to join the Big 10 and the Big 10 Conference, choose not to join the Bowl Coaliton, ( and later the Bowl Alliance) so they have no one to blame but themsleves for 1994 PSU and 1997 Michigan for not having the chance to play Nebraka in a Bowl / NC game.

NU had Tommie Frazier or Brook Berringer at QB (Berringer started 7 games and made second team All Conference, when Frazier was unable to play due to blood clots in his leg,  Frazier was back for the bowl game) and Lawrence Phillips at I back, along with 9 offensive linemen on the squad that would eventually make NFL rosters and win 2 Outlands (NU routinely played 2 complete offensive lines). Twenty four players from the 94 team, would make the NFL for at least one season. That does not include Frazier who had to give up football due to blood clots in his leg, Berringer who would have been drafted had he not been killed in a private plane crash, or several others who played in NFL Europe and the CFL. IMO, that offense with that talent going against the # 70 defense would control the clock and be able to easily score enough points to stay ahead of what ever points PSU would get against the # 4 defense in the country.

Nebraska that year played 10-1 Miami in the “neutral” Orange Bowl in Miami, with players like Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis, and scored 24 points on the #3 ranked Hurricanes who had the #1 total and #1 scoring defense in the D1A that year. NUs time of possession was 32:32 vs that #1 defense. Against a much weaker defense on true neutral field Nebraska would have been able control the clock, eat up huge chunks of time and score much more.

As far as Nebraska being one dimensional or not being fast enough - they had little trouble keeping up with Miami or anyone else they played. Also while its true NU was predominately a running team, it only ran the option about 25% of the time. While NU did not throw a large # of passes, due to being a running team and usually being comfortably ahead early in games, it did as a team complete over 57% of its passes, for 1,760 yards and 16 tds.

Someone gave an example in support of Penn State, of it being so hard to beat Michigan at home. But that happened 3 times that season, including Colorado who Nebraska beat by 17. Some of the teams that Nebraskas opponents beat that year were, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Wisconsin, Syracuse, So Cal, Stanford, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan St., Florida State, Virginia Tech, Arizona St., Boston College.

Finally here is a link to a story on 1994 Penn State Nebraska by Ivan Maisel in the Sporting News.

Nebraska is Better Link, (article below)

 > Article  Jan 16 1995 Sporting News

Penn State may be No. 1, but Nebraska is better

Ivan Maisel

Any argument designed to prove Penn State should not be national champion is destined for failure. The Nittany Lions went 12-0 and were the first Big Ten Conference team to finish the season unblemished in 26 years. But the issue isn't to discuss how many angels can dance on the pinheads who drew up the system. It's the only system there is. College football has reduced determining a national champion to opinions. And this one is that Nebraska would beat Penn State.

Not exactly on the cutting edge of football analysis. The CNN/USA Today board of coaches favored the Cornhuskers, 54-8. The Associated Press voters, of which I am one, displayed a slightly less tilted equilibrium, favoring Nebraska 51 1/2 to 10 1/2. Ten coaches and 13 AP voters switched from Penn State to Nebraska after the bowls (The votesplitter is Donnie Webb of the Syracuse Post-Standard).

So the conventional wisdom is the same, which means nothing except that it provides a little comfort to the Nebraska voters. The opinion here is based on a simple axiom of sport that is proved season after season, no matter the sport, no matter the size of the ball. Defense beats offense. Good pitching beats good hitting.

Over the last seven games of the season, Nebraska shut down every offense it faced. The Cornhuskers limited No. 3 Colorado to seven points and 314 yards. On New Year's Night, after giving up 10 first-quarter points, the Nebraska defense became a vise, slowly squeezing the life out of Miami. The Hurricanes finished with 277 yards, only 134 in the final three quarters.

No question the Penn State offense is the best in the sport since the 1983 Nebraska team. The Nittany Lions never scored fewer than 31 points. But the Penn State defense is no better than average. Just as Nebraska's performance captured the essence of the Cornhuskers, so, too, did Penn State's 38-20 defeat of Oregon in the Rose Bowl give an accurate reflection of the Nittany Lions.

Eight teams scored 20 points or more against Penn State. In the Rose Bowl, Oregon quarterback Danny O'Neil set Rose Bowl passing records for attempts (61), completions (41) and yards (456).

But this issue shouldn't degenerate into throwing statistics against the newsprint and seeing what sticks. The argument can never be decided. Some believe the post-season debate over Who's No. 1 is the essence of college football, the jewel cleverly disguised as flaw. Pish and tosh, as my elders used to say. It is simply another excuse.

"My preference was to play Penn State," Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne says. "Our players were committed to the idea of playing Miami in Miami. To them, that was the ultimate challenge. That was the most difficult road we could have taken. If there was any way around it, I would have taken it."

Actually, the most difficult road, the one that would have led Nebraska and Penn State to the same stadium, hasn't been built. There is a way for the bowls to stage the ultimate game. They will get close to doing so over the next three seasons, when most conference champions no longer will be tethered to one site -- most but not all. Until the Rose Bowl, Pacific 10 and Big Ten agree to open the Pasadena game to the rest of the country, the potential for injustices will remain.

"Joe Paterno and I both have been in this long enough to realize life isn't always fair and things happen," Osborne says. Someone brought up 1982, when Penn State won the national championship with an 11-1 record. Nebraska went 12-1, the lone loss being at Penn State, 27-24. In that game, the Nittany Lions made a catch well out of bounds, but it was ruled legal by the official and set up the winning touchdown. But Osborne doesn't appear interested in the retributive theories of fate. The Cornhuskers had records equal to or better than the national champion three times -- 1982, 1983 and 1993. Each of those years, Nebraska lost the wrong game.

Now it turns out the answer isn't as simple as not losing. Once again, Penn State achieves membership in a club to which Paterno has an unfailing key. The Nittany Lions have finished seasons undefeated four times without a national championship (1968, 1969, 1973 and 1994).

Osborne wanted to play Penn State. Paterno wished for the same. That game won't take place outside the realm of Sega. It will remain a pipe dream, as opposed to the $50,000 bonus Osborne will receive for winning the national championship. As if he didn't have enough reasons for a Happy New Year.

COPYRIGHT 1995 Sporting News Publishing Co.

1982 Penn State/Nebraska Out of Bounds Catch


Newspaper article = Out Of Bounds

That was Nebraska’s only loss that season, and there are folks in the Husker camp who feel they were robbed in the game by the officials. It turns out they may be right.

Penn State tight end Mike McCloskey made a 15-yard catch down to the 2 to set up the game-winning TD, but there was controversy over whether McCloskey was out of bounds when he made the grab.

Even McCloskey has admitted he was indeed out of bounds.

In 1998, McCloskey attended a Nebraska function in Omaha and introduced Gill, then the Huskers’ quarterbacks coach. McCloskey owned up to being out of bounds on the controversial catch.

‘‘That’s the first time I’ve ever said I was out,’’ McCloskey told The Associated Press that night.

‘‘Maybe it was a good thing I was out of bounds because it kind of made me famous.’’
From Joe Paterno's autobiography - By The Book
Writing about the 1982 Nebraska - Penn State game, and the catch by McCloskey, Joe said this -
Page 223 - "Sure enough, without question, Mike's foot had come down outside the boundary".
Page 123 - "Sure enough, films later confirmed that Mike's foot came down an inch or so out of bounds"          (should have said foot or so)

                                                                                       1983 Kickoff Classic -  NU 44 Penn State 6