Strange Word Enters Nebraska Vocabulary: Defeat
Sep. 22, 1996
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ In a state where college football fans had forgotten what it's like to lose, the unthinkable happened.
Nebraska was not just beaten, but blanked 19-0 by Arizona State on Saturday night, leaving Cornhusker fans to wonder what in the world had gone wrong.
``Come on folks. It really did happen, but the sun is still going to rise. ... At least, that's what I've been told,'' said disk jockey Rick Setchell of KEZO in Omaha as he tried to console Sunday morning listeners.
Nebraska had won 26 straight games and lost only once in the last three years. It had been more than 2 1/2 years since the team lost, almost four years since it happened during the regular season.
``It was like a bad dream. It was definitely a shock,'' said Robert Swartz, 20, of Dewitt. ``I didn't really believe it when it was happening. Now it's starting to sink in.''
Fans at The ScoreCard bar watched the game on television, yelling ``Keep the faith!'' But by the start of the fourth quarter many lost it and went home to begin grieving the end of Nebraska's reign of No. 1 in the college football polls.
The morning after in the Panhandle village of Dalton, fans were in poor spirits at the Keller's Sportsmen's Lounge.
``The football team didn't show up,'' said Liz Adams, 35. ``You can't stay No. 1 forever. I saw this day coming but I didn't expect it to happen last night.''
Even at Sunday church services, the loss was mentioned at the pulpit. The Rev. Patrick McCaslin, priest at St. Leo's Catholic Church in Omaha, told his congregation that many prayers for a Nebraska win must have went up in the game's final quarter.
``They don't have to win for us to be supportive,'' McCaslin said during Mass.
Husker linebacker Jamel Williams appeared stunned and tired Sunday morning on ``The Tom Osborne Show'' televised by Omaha station KMTV. The Butkus Award candidate led Nebraska with 15 tackles.
``We're all kind of down right now because nobody likes what happened,'' Williams said. ``Nobody likes a loss. This is kind of a wake-up call for us.''
Traditionally solemn, coach Tom Osborne said on the show he was upset.
``I can't explain what happened,'' he said. ``I'm certainly embarrassed and hurt by it.''