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Trev Alberts could have picked any number of memories from that cold, rainy, raucous night at Memorial Stadium.
But among them, one curious moment stood out for the former Nebraska linebacker when he recalled the Huskers' 52-7 rout of ranked rival Colorado on Oct. 31, 1992.
“I remember eating a hot dog because I was already done at the start of the fourth quarter,” Alberts joked. “And it was Colorado!”
The team NU hadn't beat since 1988. The team that had a 25-game Big Eight unbeaten streak. The team whose fans threw snowballs at Husker kicker Byron Bennett in 1991 as he had a game-winning field goal attempt blocked. The team that, through a quirk in the polls, had the same No. 8 ranking as the Huskers heading into the 1992 game.
Nebraska hadn't beaten a top 10 team since 1988. Until that Halloween night, when 76,287 — some dressed in costumes — poured into Memorial Stadium, ready for some element of revenge.
“It was kind of a wild scene,” said Athletic Director Tom Osborne, who coached Nebraska at the time. “Very noisy.”
It only got noisier after kickoff when Travis Hill intercepted Colorado quarterback Koy Detmer, who was filling in for an injured Kordell Stewart, on the Buffaloes' opening drive. Husker I-back Calvin Jones scored on a 3-yard touchdown less than one minute into the game.
“Colorado was on its heels and we were the aggressor,” said Alberts, now athletic director at UNO.
Nebraska's defense would force five more turnovers and notch five sacks. Alberts said the linebacker corps, including himself and his roommate Hill, wanted to make a statement that night since Colorado's trio of linebackers — Greg Biekert, Ted Johnson and Chad Brown — had earned so much praise and hype.
And because the Buffaloes used a spread passing offense to accommodate Detmer's talents, Alberts said defensive coordinator Charlie McBride simplified the scheme for the game, using a nickel look that McBride eventually incorporated into the dominating defenses of the mid-'90s. Colorado gained just 144 yards.
“You could just pin your ears back,” Alberts said. “Maybe this doesn't say much about me, but you didn't have to think too much. You could just play.”
The Huskers' offense took advantage of the turnovers, eventually wearing down CU's vaunted defense. True freshman Tommie Frazier got his second career start, rushing for 86 yards and throwing for 55. More importantly, he had zero turnovers.
“We wouldn't have put him out there if we didn't think he could do it,” Osborne said.
Also notable, it was the last time Osborne called the fumblerooski in a game. Will Shields got the carry, which set up a touchdown. The NCAA banned the play, Osborne said Tuesday, because officials “got fooled so much they just said you couldn't run it anymore.”
“That play was good to us,” Osborne said.
So was Halloween night.
Spartan coach praises Nebraska's offense
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio heaped praise on Nebraska's offense during the Big Ten teleconference, and said his Spartans are bracing to see “as good a skill group as we've played against” on Saturday.
“They're a tough football team to defend,” Dantonio said. “No. 1 in scoring offense and rushing offense and total offense (in the Big Ten), and I don't think you get there by accident.”
The Huskers head to East Lansing averaging 39.2 points, 489.1 total yards and 264.1 rushing yards per game. The Spartans will counter with a defense that paces the Big Ten in scoring defense (15.0), as well as total defense (267.4) and rushing defense (91.2).
Dantonio called NU receiver Kenny Bell a “dynamic player” and tight end Kyler Reed a “mismatch player.” The Husker receiving corps overall, he said, creates problems for the Spartans.
“Some of those other guys that they've got are big, physical guys that catch the ball very efficiently and can go down the field with it,” Dantonio said.
MSU cornerbacks will provide challenge
Among the key matchups Saturday will be Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Turner and the rest of the Nebraska wideouts going against Michigan State cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard, considered one of the best tandems in the Big Ten.
Husker coach Bo Pelini said Adams and Dennard — the cousin of former NU cornerback Alfonzo Dennard — play with good technique and compete for the ball. Adams is a third-year starter who was a first-team All-Big Ten pick last year by the coaches.
“I like our receivers,” Pelini said. “I think they're really good players, and they're going to be challenged. Those guys get up in your face and play hard. Like a lot of other matchups, it's going to be one of the ones we want to win.”
Jackson will back up Jean-Baptiste
Freshman Charles Jackson has moved from nickel corner, where he backed up starter Ciante Evans, to a regular corner spot behind Stanley Jean-Baptiste.
“We're trying to find a way to make sure we're as evenly balanced across the whole secondary with guys that we feel good about,” defensive coordinator John Papuchis said.
Papuchis said Jackson is “on the cusp” of playing a significant role, with more to come in 2013.
“Here in the near future, we're going to see him being a lock-down cover corner for us,” Papuchis said.
Jackson, who's played mostly on special teams this year, was the last Husker off the field Tuesday night as he worked on his ball skills.