Asmussen: Red alert for Illini fans

National titles since the last meeting
Three, though the folks in Michigan will say 21/2. Nebraska won it all in 1994, 1995 and 1997. The last of the three was split with the Wolverines.

Hero: Quarterback Tommie Frazier
The leader of the 1994 and ‘95 teams. Ask Ron Zook about Frazier. His Florida defense still is trying to tackle Frazier in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. When Frazier blasted current coach Bo Pelini recently, it was statewide news. Foolishly, Pelini tried to fight back.

Coaching legend: Tom Osborne
He was only getting started the last time Nebraska played Illinois. After taking over in 1973, Osborne needed two decades to win a national title. He got close in 1983, his undefeated team losing to Miami in the Orange Bowl. Osborne retired after the 1997 season but later came back as athletic director.

They brag about ...
Johnny Rodgers, who won the program’s first Heisman Trophy in 1972. “The Jet” dazzled as a returner, receiver and runner. He once finished a punt-return touchdown by going the last 10 yards backward. He went nuts in his final college game, dominating Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.

They don’t brag about ...
Rodgers’ felony conviction. He was nailed for a gas station robbery early in his career. Osborne became Rodgers’ mentor/probation officer and was given a ton of credit for his successful return to society.

Crowded house
Sellout streak at Illinois: Zero. Sellout streak at Nebraska: 1962 to present. Huskers tickets are prized possessions, passed down from generation to generation like Packers tickets. The place will be full again Saturday, and the plans are to continue adding seats. But it is a nice crowd. There is a tradition of applauding the opponent as it leaves the field.

Revolving door
Nebraska is on its third coach since Osborne stepped aside. And there are rumblings about another change. Longtime Nebraska assistant Frank Solich replaced Osborne in 1998 and had a decent run, including an appearance in the title game after the 2001 season. But the administration wasn’t happy. Enough. So, Solich was let go and replaced by former Illinois assistant Bill Callahan. Oil and water. Callahan made fun of Osborne, not in a nice way. After two losing seasons in four years, he was dumped and replaced by Pelini.

Program goat
Easy, former AD Steve Pederson, who decided Solich had to go and who hired Callahan. Most Nebraska fans consider Pederson an enemy of the state.

When in Lincoln, don’t mention ...
Texas and AD DeLoss Dodds. Nebraskans blame Texas for its decision to bolt the Big 12. They always were annoyed by the way Texas seemed to control the league and looked to the Big Ten as a way out.

They miss ...
Yearly games against Oklahoma and to a lesser extent Colorado. They also miss the annual beatdowns they put on Kansas and Iowa State.  

Heisman winners
Two in the last 30 years and three overall. Mike Rozier won the statue after a spectacular 1983 season. He was a solid pro who wears funny hats at each year’s Heisman presentation. Eric Crouch grabbed the statue in 2001. Most of his good work was done as a runner. He didn’t make it as a pro after moving from quarterback. Today, you can hear him each week doing games on BTN.

If you go ...
Drive. It isn’t easy to get to Lincoln by plane. Just ask Loren Tate. Door to door from Champaign to Lincoln is about 550 miles, give or take a few. Heck, it’s closer than Penn State.

When you get there ...
Try Misty’s, the premier steakhouse in Lincoln. Not in the mood for beef? Try Valentino’s, the best pizza in Lincoln. And don’t forget to sample a Runza, a breaded beef concoction sold at the games.

Out with the old
Devaney Center was a hopping place back in the day. But the basketball building has been replaced by Pinnacle Bank Arena. Fancy beyond belief. The question is if the program is worthy of such a place. Nebraska never has won an NCAA tournament game. Ever.
 

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