#17 Arizona State 19
#1 Nebraska 0

Sept. 21, 1996 • Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona

1 2 3 4 T
Nebraska 0 0 0 0 0
Arizona State 9 8 0 2 19

NU Machine Finally Gives Out

Nebraska's Ahman Green fumbles during the Huskers' 19-0 loss at Arizona State. JEFFREY Z. CARNEY/THE WORLD-HERALD

TEMPE Ariz. — For the first time in almost 1,000 days, Nebraska went home from a football game a loser.

And it wasn't a fluke.

The two-time defending national champions fumbled six times, got burned for an unheard of three safeties, watched shotgun snaps whiz through the air, wasted timeouts and gave up 401 yards in a 19-0 loss Saturday night to Arizona State before a crowd of 74,089 at Sun Devil Stadium. Fans swarmed the field and tore down the goal posts after the game ended.

The shutout was just the third against NU Coach Tom Osborne in 283 games over 24 years. The others were 27-0 to Oklahoma in 1973 and 22-0 to Miami in the Orange Bowl after the 1991 season.

About 25,000 fans in Saturday's crowd were dressed in red and yelling loudly before the game, but they left in stunned silence as the top-ranked Huskers lost for the first time since Jan. 1, 1994 — 18-16 to Florida State.

Even more stunning was Nebraska's inability to move the ball on a team the Huskers beat in Lincoln last year 77-28. NU gained just 216 yards (120 rushing, 96 passing) and had to punt eight times. The offensive disorganization extended into the kicking game when Huskers wasted two timeouts when they had only 10 men on the field while attempting to punt.

The setback ended Nebraska's school-record 26-game overall winning streak and 37-game streak in the regular season. The Huskers are 1-1 to start a season for the first time since 1985.

Arizona State, 3-0 and ranked 17th and 22nd, scored on the game's first possession, led 17-0 at halftime and was never challenged in the second half.

The Sun Devils' victory came on the night that the field was officially named for ex-ASU Coach Frank Kush. In 1975, Kush's Sun Devils beat Nebraska on that field 17-14 in the Fiesta Bowl, a victory that gave Arizona State national respectability.

Saturday's win could boost ASU into the Top 10 and lead to another revival for a program that hasn't won more than six games since 1987.

Nebraska, down 17-0 at halftime, never threatened to close the gap in the second half. The Huskers got into ASU territory only once after halftime until the final two minutes. With 1:39 to go, backup quarterback Matt Turman hit I-back Ahman Green with a 23-yard swing pass. But at the ASU 3-yard line, Green lost a fumble and his wind on a crushing hit.

ASU's Jake Plummer was the star among quarterbacks. The senior completed 20 of 36 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown.

NU junior quarterback Scott Frost completed 6 of 21 passes for 66 yards. On his final play of the night, Frost was sacked for a safety with 6:43 left in the game. While seated in the end zone, Frost heaved the ball at the goal post in disgust.

Arizona State wasted no time getting started, taking the opening kickoff and roaring 80 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown.

Plummer completed passes of 11 and 31 yards early in the drive to overcome a personal foul penalty and tailback Michael Martin added runs of 14, 7 and 7 yards.

After a 3-yard sack, Plummer scrambled left on second-and-13 and found wide receiver Keith Poole wide open in the middle of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Robert Nycz's extra-point kick put ASU ahead 7-0 with 11:38 to go in the first quarter.

A minute later, Arizona State's defense contributed to the cause.

After a 12-yard penalty for an illegal block pushed Nebraska into a second -and-18 at the 6, Frost and Green missed connections on an option pitch. Green batted the ball in the end zone for two steps, then watched it roll out of bounds for a safety. That put ASU up 9-0.

The teams swapped turnovers on their next possessions.

NU roverback Mike Minter intercepted a pass from Plummer to stop an Arizona State drive at the Husker 21.

Nebraska drove to the Arizona State 5-yard line. But Frost pitched wildly behind I -back Damon Benning and ASU linebacker Scott Von der Ahe recovered at the Sun Devil 22.

While Nebraska continued to sputter offensively, going three downs and out on two straight possessions, Arizona State put together another scoring drive of more than 10 plays.

Plummer completed passes of 20 yards to wide receiver Lenzie Jackson and 24 yards to wide receiver Kenny Mitchell to get to the NU 17. A personal foul penalty and a sack forced the Sun Devils to settle for Nycz's 27-yard field goal and a 12-0 lead with 8:59 to go in the half.

Nebraska's only first down the remainder of the half came on Benning's 19-yard run on a fake reverse. That drive ended with a punt four plays later, then the next possession ended in disaster.

With Frost in shotgun formation at NU's 20, the snap whizzed by his head and into the end zone where Frost fell on it for a safety, giving ASU a 14-0 lead with 2:19 to go in the half.

The Sun Devils weren't done. After returning the free kick to their 38, they drove to the NU 27 to set up Nycz's 44-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead with 30 seconds to go.

Benning returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards from the end zone. Frost ran for 11 yards and Benning for 7 to the ASU 37. Nebraska tried to call time after Benning's run to set up a field-goal try, but the officials ruled the request came after time expired.

The last time Nebraska was shut out at halftime was 13-0 to Miami in the Orange Bowl after the 1991 season. Miami won that game 22-0.


More coverage

World-Herald post-game coverage (PDF)

Game stats

Opp NU
Penalties-Yards 5-32
Rush yards 109 130
Rush attempts 52 44
Yards per carry 2.1 3.0
Pass yards 292 96
Comp.-Att.-Int. 20-36-1 8-25-0
Yards/Att. 8.1 3.8
Yards/Comp. 14.6 12.0
Fumbles 0 3

Series history

Nebraska is 6-2 all-time against Arizona State.

See all games »

1996 season (11-2)

Michigan State Sept. 7
Arizona State Sept. 21
Colorado State Sept. 28
Kansas State Oct. 5
Baylor Oct. 12
Texas Tech Oct. 19
Kansas Oct. 26
Oklahoma Nov. 2
Missouri Nov. 9
Iowa State Nov. 16
Colorado Nov. 29
Texas Dec. 7
Virginia Tech Dec. 31

This day in history

Nebraska has played 10 games on Sept. 21. See them all »

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