1981 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
1981 Nebraska Cornhuskers football
Nebraska Cornhuskers logo.svg
Big Eight champion
Orange Bowl, L 15–22 vs. Clemson
Conference Big Eight Conference
Coaches No. 9
AP No. 11
1981 record 9–3 (7–0 Big 8)
Head coach Tom Osborne (9th season)
Offensive coordinator Tom Osborne (12th season)
Offensive scheme I formation
Defensive coordinator Charlie McBride (1st season)
Home stadium Memorial Stadium
← 1980
1982 →
1981 Big 8 football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 11 Nebraska $ 7 0 0     9 3 0
No. 20 Oklahoma 4 2 1     7 4 1
Kansas 4 3 0     7 5 0
Oklahoma State 4 3 0     7 5 0
No. 19 Missouri 3 4 0     8 4 0
Iowa State 2 4 1     5 5 1
Colorado 2 5 0     3 8 0
Kansas State 1 6 0     2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1981 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team represented the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the 1981 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team was coached by Tom Osborne and played their home games in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.



Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 12 1:05 PM at Iowa* No. 7 Kinnick StadiumIowa City, Iowa L 7-10   60,160
September 19 1:30 PM No. 19 Florida State* No. 17 Memorial StadiumLincoln, Nebraska W 34-14   76,289
September 26 1:30 PM No. 3 Penn State* No. 15 Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska L 24-30   76,308
October 3 1:30 PM Auburn* Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska W 17-3   76,423
October 10 1:30 PM Colorado Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska W 59-0   76,169
October 17 1:30 PM at Kansas State No. 19 KSU StadiumManhattan, Kansas W 49-3   45,915
October 24 11:50 AM at No. 19 Missouri No. 15 Faurot FieldColumbia, Missouri ABC W 6-0   72,001
October 31 1:30 PM Kansasdagger No. 12 Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska W 31-15   76,208
November 7 11:30 AM at Oklahoma State No. 11 Lewis FieldStillwater, Oklahoma ABC W 54-7   48,500
November 14 1:30 PM Iowa State No. 7 Memorial Stadium • Lincoln, Nebraska W 31-7   76,258
November 21 1:30 PM at Oklahoma No. 5 Oklahoma Memorial StadiumNorman, Oklahoma ABC W 37-14   74,807
January 1 7:00 PM vs. No. 1 Clemson* No. 4 Miami Orange BowlMiami (Orange Bowl) NBC L 15-22   72,748
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game. All times are in Central Time.



Abbott, Todd (So.) DE
Alberico, Tim (So.) SE
Bachman, Ron (So.) DT
Barnes, Ed #57 (So.) LB
Bates, Phil #43 (Sr.) FB
Bauer, Steve #94 (So.) MON
Behning, Mark (So.) OT
Bess, Donnie #44 (Jr.) LB
Bourn, Don (So.) TE
Brandl, Matt #58 (Sr.) OG
Brown, Steve #95 (So.) DE
Brown, Todd #29 (Jr.) SE
Brungardt, Tim #32 (So.) IB
Buchanan, Eric (So.) DE
Campbell, Grant #24 (Jr.) P
Carlstrom, Tom #78 (Sr.) OG
Chandler, Rick #39 (So.) LB
Clark, Bret #10 (So.) S
Corbeil, Jim #92 (So.) LB
Craig, Roger #21 (Jr.) IB
Curry, Tom #1 (So.) WB
Damkroger, Steve #35 (Jr.) LB
Daum, Mark (So.) LB
DeBus, Robert (So.) LB
Dhein, Doug (So.) OT
Engebritson, Monte #83 (So.) TE
Evans, Brent #48 (Jr.) LB
Felici, Tony #46 (Jr.) DE
Fischer, Dan #26 (Jr.) S
Fryar, Irving #27 (So.) WB
Gdowski, Tom #93 (Jr.) DT
Gill, Turner #12 (So.) QB
Glathar, Kurt #69 (Jr.) OG
Graeber, Ken (So.) MG
Greene, Ricky (So.) IB
Grimminger, Harry (So.) OG
Haase, David #4 (So.) S
Hagerman, Mark #9 (Jr.) PK
Hansman, Bob #98 (So.) LB
Harris, Neil #11 (So.) CB
Haywood, Calvin (So.) MON
Heath, John #52 (So.) LB
Herrmann, Doug #63 (So.) DT
Hill, Dan #84 (Jr.) TE
Hill, Pete #41 (Fr.) FB
Hinds, Tom (Jr.) OG


Hineline, Curt #59 (Sr.) MG
Hoback, Rob (Jr.) LB
Holbrook, Tim #23 (Jr.) MON
Huebert, Randy #31 (Sr.) WB
Hurley, Dan #73 (Sr.) OT
Iodence, Brian #14 (Sr.) CB
Jeffries, Jim (So.) MON
Johnson, Brad #55 (Jr.) C
Kammerer, Kyle (So.) OG
Keeler, Mike #61 (So.) DT
Kimball, Scott (So.) SE
Knox, Mike #44 (Fr.) LB
Kramer, Brian (So.) OG
Krejci, Jeff #2 (Sr.) S
Krenk, Mitch #89 (Jr.) TE
Kwapick, Jeff #70 (Jr.) OT
Larsen, Pat #3 (Jr.) CB
Lewis, Rodney #5 (Sr.) CB
Lindquist, Ric #15 (Sr.) CB
Lindstrom, Scott #56 (Jr.) MG
Lonowski, Jack #67 (Sr.) DT
Lyday, Allen #18 (Jr.) CB
Mandelko, Mike #68 (Jr.) OG
Mann, Ricky #16 (So.) S
Mason, Nate #8 (Jr.) QB
Mathison, Bruce #19 (Jr.) QB
Mauer, Mark #17 (Sr.) QB
McCashland, Mike (So.) MON
McCowan, Randy #37 (Jr.) IB
McElroy, Mike #54 (Sr.) C
McLaughlin, Scott (So.) C
McWhirter, Steve #45 (Jr.) LB
Merrell, Jeff #74 (Jr.) MG
Moravec, Mark #40 (Jr.) FB
Muehling, Brad #53 (So.) C
Murphy, Jim (So.) DB
Neil, Eddie #13 (Jr.) PK
Nelson, Randy (So.) OT
Orton, Greg (So.) OG
Patterson, Bill (So.) IB
Petersen, Tim (So.) CB
Praeuner, Wade #85 (So.) DE
Raridon, Scott #72 (So.) OT
Reinhardt, John (So.) MG
Ridder, Dave #86 (So.) DE
Rimington, Dave #50 (Jr.) C


Ripa, Dan (So.) FB
Rogan, Dennis #42 (So.) IB
Rozier, Mike #30 (So.) IB
Santin, John #36 (Jr.) LB
Schaffer, Scott (So.) WB
Schmuecker, Dan #77 (So.) OT
Schoening, Lynn #91 (Jr.) PK
Sculley, Mike #51 (Sr.) MG
Seibel, Kevin #49 (Jr.) PK
Schark, Doug (So.) TE
Sherlock, John #66 (So.) OT
Simmons, Ricky #7 (Jr.) WB
Sims, Sammy #6 (Sr.) MON
Smail, Bob (Unk) MG
Smith, Jeff #28 (So.) IB
Smith, Paul #25 (Jr.) FB
Sorenson, John (So.) SE
Spratte, Todd #81 (So.) DE
Steels, Anthony #33 (Sr.) WB
Steinkuhler, Dean #71 (So.) OG
Stephens, Greg #82 (Jr.) TE
Stromath, Dave #99 (Sr.) DT
Stuckey, Rob (So.) DT
Sundberg, Craig (So.) QB
Theiss, Randy #65 (Jr.) OT
Thomas, Anthony (So.) OG
Thompson, Jim (So.) WB
Tramner, Mike #64 (So.) MG
Traynowicz, Mark (So.) OT
Valla, Ronald (So.) PK
Van Lent, Bill #90 (Jr.) DT
Van Norman, Kris #38 (Jr.) MON
Vergith, Tom #22 (Jr.) SE
Waechter, Henry #75 (Sr.) DT
Waechter, Kevin #76 (Jr.) DT
Walton, Jerry (So.) S
Weber, Bill #87 (So.) DE
Weed, Dan (So.) C
Wees, Dennis #62 (Jr.) MG
Wehrle, Craig #47 (Jr.) TE
Wilkening, Doug #34 (So.) FB
Williams, Jamie #80 (Jr.) TE
Williams, Jimmy #96 (Sr.) DE
Williams, Toby #97 (Jr.) DT
Woodard, Scott #88 (Sr.) SE
Zierke, Mike (So.) DT


Coaching staff[edit]

Name Title First year
in this position
Years at Nebraska Alma Mater
Tom Osborne Head Coach
Offensive Coordinator
1973 1964–1997 Hastings College
Charlie McBride Defensive Coordinator 1981 1977–1999 Colorado
Cletus Fischer Offensive Line 1960–1985 Nebraska
John Melton Tight Ends
1973 1962–1988 Wyoming
Mike Corgan Running Backs 1962 1962–1982 Notre Dame
Boyd Epley Head Strength Coach 1969 1969–2003 Nebraska
George Darlington Defensive Backs 1973–2002 Rutgers
Milt Tenopir Offensive Line 1974 1974–2002 Sterling
Gene Huey Receivers 1977 1977–1986 Wyoming
Frank Solich Head Freshman Coach 1979 1979–2003 Nebraska
Jack Pierce 1979–1991
Jerry Pettibone Recruiting Coordinator 1980 1980–1981 Oregon State
Bob Thornton Secondary 1981 1981–1985 Nebraska

Game summaries[edit]


#7 Nebraska at Iowa [box score]
1 234Total
#7 Nebraska 0 007 7
Iowa 7 300 10

Unranked Iowa jumped out to 10-0 lead by halftime on their way to paying back the 0-57 defeat handed to them by the Cornhuskers last year, and Nebraska was unable to answer in kind. Three 4th quarter Nebraska forays into Hawkeye territory produced no points, and an Iowa interception with 39 seconds remaining closed the book on the upset. Iowa went on to play in the Rose Bowl.

Florida State[edit]

#19 Florida State at #17 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
#19 Florida State 0 707 14
#17 Nebraska 10 01410 34

Nebraska held a close 10-7 lead at halftime, but the momentum quickly turned in favor of the Cornhuskers when WB Irving Fryar scored on an 82-yard punt return, followed up six game clock seconds later when DE Tony Felici's off-the-bench opportunity allowed him to recover a Florida State fumble on the kickoff and return it 13 yards for another touchdown. Nebraska sealed the deal on a 94-yard touchdown run by IB Roger Craig, tying the standing Nebraska record. Felici's defensive performance earned him the starting position.

Penn State[edit]

#3 Penn State at #15 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
#3 Penn State 3 14310 30
#15 Nebraska 0 10140 24

No major records fell on this day, as each team fought to overcome the other and the scoring lead was exchanged five times. Penn State running back and future NFL star Curt Warner rolled up 238 yards, nearly matching the entire Nebraska team ground production. Penn State pulled ahead on an early 4th-quarter touchdown and added a field goal with 4:54 remaining to extend their lead to 6 points, and the Cornhuskers were unable to muster a response before time expired. Nebraska fell out of the rankings for the first time since a one-week absence early in the 1977 season.


Auburn at Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Auburn 3 000 3
Nebraska 0 0107 17

Auburn put up a 1st-quarter field goal to take the lead, and the score remained 3-0 at halftime. Through the course of the game, however, Auburn coughed up 10 fumbles, losing half of them, and never scored again. Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill took over after halftime, and with help from the turnovers, Nebraska overcome the weight of their worst season start since 1960 and put up 17 points in the second half to even up their season record at 2-2.


Colorado at Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Colorado 0 000 0
Nebraska 14 24210 59

This game marked the first start for Nebraska QB Turner Gill and IB Mike Rozier, and the Cornhuskers finally came to life. Gill tied an existing Nebraska record by passing for four touchdowns, as Nebraska piled up 719 offensive yards and set a new NCAA record with 42 first downs while racking up all 59 points before the start of the 4th quarter, while the Blackshirts posted their first shutout of the season.

Kansas State[edit]

#19 Nebraska at Kansas State [box score]
1 234Total
#19 Nebraska 14 14021 49
Kansas State 0 030 3

For the third straight game, the Nebraska defense prevented a touchdown, as the Cornhuskers rolled up 674 offensive yards and handled Kansas State with ease, showing that the return of Nebraska to the rankings at #19 was appropriate. Despite recovering three of eight Nebraska fumbles and the opportunity to capitalize accordingly, the Wildcats still managed only 8 first downs, and they barely avoided the shutout with a single 3rd-quarter field goal.


#15 Nebraska at #19 Missouri [box score]
1 234Total
#15 Nebraska 0 006 6
#19 Missouri 0 000 0

This slugfest of two nearly evenly ranked teams contained plenty of action if not points, as the stalemate dragged on until time nearly ran out. Finally, with just 23 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Nebraska FB Phil Bates punched a three-yard run into the end zone. Like all the other scoring attempts preceding the eventual touchdown, even the PAT failed, and Nebraska departed Columbia with the 6–0 win.


Kansas at #12 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Kansas 3 633 15
#12 Nebraska 0 31414 31

The Blackshirts extended their touchdown-prevention streak to five games, yet Nebraska was still behind 9-3 at halftime due to the prolific field goal production from Kansas PK Bruce Kallmeyer. Adjustments made during the break had an immediate effect, however, and despite Kallmeyer putting two more kicks between the uprights, the Cornhusker offense ran off four touchdowns with the help of IB Mike Rozier's career-best 179 yards to pull away.

Oklahoma State[edit]

#11 Nebraska at Oklahoma State [box score]
1 234Total
#11 Nebraska 17 0289 54
Oklahoma State 0 070 7

The high-flying Oklahoma State defense, ranked #1 in the nation when the Cornhuskers rolled into town, were obliterated by Nebraska's 546 yards of offense. Nebraska QB Turner Gill led his squad to scores on their first three possessions, and handed over the controls shortly after halftime, but the Cornhuskers continued to score with ease. The Nebraska defense allowed just one score, a 3rd-quarter touchdown, which ended their touchdown-free streak at 22 quarters.

Iowa State[edit]

Iowa State at #7 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Iowa State 0 700 7
#7 Nebraska 0 7024 31

The Cornhuskers struggled to put Iowa State behind them, catching up with them to enter halftime tied at 7, and it wasn't until the 4th quarter that the worn-down Cyclones allowed a 63-yard punt return touchdown by WB Irving Fryar as they gave up 24 unanswered points to decide the outcome. However, Nebraska QB Turner Gill suffered a leg injury that eventually became serious enough to cause nerve damage, putting him out for the rest of the season and also casting a shadow over his athletic future.


#5 Nebraska at Oklahoma [box score]
1 234Total
#5 Nebraska 10 14103 37
Oklahoma 7 070 14

Oklahoma started out strong but failed to produce points to match their ability to march down the field, hampered by losing 3 of 5 fumbles over the course of the game. Despite the early concern, the Sooners went to the locker room at the half trailing 24-7 after a successful campaign by backup Nebraska QB Mark Mauer, and Oklahoma was never able to recover. Nebraska finished with an unbeaten conference slate and headed to Miami as conference champions.


#4 Nebraska vs #1 Clemson [box score]
1 234Total
#4 Nebraska 7 008 15
#1 Clemson 6 6100 22

Nebraska failed to capitalize on the opportunity for a national championship, coming in as #4 to attempt a takedown of the #1 Tigers as both the #2 and #3 teams dropped their own bowl games, but in a hard fought game that showed a near match of squads statistically, Clemson simply outplayed the Cornhuskers and took advantage of Nebraska mistakes to hold on to their 7-point lead for the final nine minutes to keep their claim on the #1 ranking, departing Miami with the 1981 national title.


Ranking Movement
Poll Pre Wk 1 Wk 2 Wk 3 Wk 4 Wk 5 Wk 6 Wk 7 Wk 8 Wk 9 Wk 10 Wk 11 Wk 12 Wk 13 Final
AP 6 7 17 15 NR NR 19 15 12 11 7 5 5 4 11
Coaches 9



Award Name(s)
Outland Trophy Dave Rimington
All-America 1st team Dave Rimington, Jimmy Williams
All-America honorable mention Dan Hurley, Jeff Krejci, Mike Rozier, Jamie Williams, Turner Gill
Big 8 Player of the Year Dave Rimington
Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year Jimmy Williams
Big 8 Offensive Newcomer of the Year Mike Rozier
All-Big 8 1st team Roger Craig, Tony Felici, Turner Gill, Dan Hurley, Jeff Krejci, Ric Lindquist, Dave Rimington, Mike Rozier, Sammy Sims, Jamie Williams, Jimmy Williams
All-Big 8 2nd team Steve Damkroger, Roger Craig, Grant Campbell, Phil Bates, Mike Mandelko, Randy Theiss, Henry Waechter
All-Big 8 honorable mention Phil Bates, Tom Carlstrom, Jeff Merrell

NFL and pro players[edit]

The following Nebraska players who participated in the 1981 season later moved on to the next level and joined a professional or semi-pro team as draftees or free agents.[5]

Name Team
Mark Behning Pittsburgh Steelers
Todd Brown Montreal Concordes
Bret Clark Tampa Bay Bandits
Roger Craig San Francisco 49ers
Irving Fryar New England Patriots
Turner Gill Montreal Concordes
Dan Hurley Boston Breakers
Brad Johnson Boston Breakers
Mike Knox Denver Broncos
Mitch Krenk Chicago Bears
Rodney Lewis New Orleans Saints
Allen Lyday Houston Oilers
Bruce Mathison San Diego Chargers
Jeff Merrell Boston Breakers
Greg Orton Detroit Lions
Dave Rimington Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Rozier Pittsburgh Maulers
Kevin Seibel Chicago Blitz
Ricky Simmons Washington Federals
Jeff Smith Kansas City Chiefs
Anthony Steels Boston Breakers
Dean Steinkuhler Houston Oilers
Mark Traynowicz Buffalo Bills
Henry Waechter Chicago Bears
Jamie Williams St. Louis Cardinals
Jimmy Williams Detroit Lions
Toby Williams New England Patriots


  1. ^ "Football - 1981 Schedule/Results". University of Nebraska–Lincoln Athletics Department. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  2. ^ Nebraska 1981 Roster
  3. ^ Nebraska 1981 Commitments
  4. ^ 1981 Husker Honors
  5. ^ All Time NFL Huskers