Nebraska knows well that soggy feeling of ending season at bottom of a bowl ORANGE BOWL -- Nebraska vs.Florida State -- Tomorrow, (( 8:00 p.m., Channel 2

December 31, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

MIAMI -- Nebraska's reputation as perennial Big Eight kingpin is preceded this week by its reputation as a bowl-game dud.

Kingpins? The Cornhuskers have earned a bowl bid in each of coach Tom Osborne's 20 seasons, nine as Big Eight champs.

Duds? They have lost five straight bowl games in unbecoming fashion. Only one of those losses was by less than three touchdowns.

That is the extra baggage the 11th-ranked Cornhuskers bring to the 59th Orange Bowl tomorrow night against third-ranked Florida State.

And that is part of the reason why Florida State (10-1) has been installed as a 10-point favorite to extend Nebraska's losing streak to six.

The Cornhuskers (9-2) can take the hint.

"No one," Nebraska free safety Tyrone Byrd said yesterday, "is giving us a chance."

If that's the case, it's not hard to see why. In their five-game bowl losing streak, the Cornhuskers have lost twice to Miami in the Orange Bowl and twice to Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. Their last bowl victory was over LSU, 30-15, in the 1987 Sugar Bowl.

The last time Nebraska played Florida State, the Seminoles' Peter Tom Willis (now with the Chicago Bears) passed for 422 yards in a 41-17 romp in the 1990 Fiesta Bowl. Byrd remembers it well.

"It was close at first, then they made a lot of great catches," he said. "We got their quarterback into the NFL with that game. Our defensive backs made a lot of bad mistakes, and we were screaming at one another because of the mistakes we made."

Byrd said he thinks a lot has changed since then. Team harmony, for one thing.

Osborne instituted a unity council last year for the purpose of resolving grievances players might have.

Said linebacker Trev Alberts: "A lot of times, people were not comfortable going to Coach Osborne [with complaints]. We voted team leaders at each position, and the younger guys go to the older guys if there's a complaint."

The unity council got new traveling gear for the Cornhuskers. It also got a Friday night film session abolished before games. Those were minor changes. The Cornhuskers also have achieved a major change in attitude.

"We're a lot closer group," said Byrd. "We're in it for one another.

"A lot of people got tired of the big heads that came out of here. The big heads went into the pros, thinking they were too good for the team. I don't feel that this year."

-! Alberts said the Cornhuskers

have adopted a more businesslike approach on their return trip to the Orange Bowl. They lost to Miami, 22-0, in the 1992 Orange Bowl.

"We've cut out a lot of things to help keep us focused," he said. "We're here to win the game, not for having a fun experience. Last year, we were more free-spirited. This year, guys are saying, 'Let's stay in tonight.' We toned it down."

Respect would be a healthy byproduct of a Nebraska upset. It's been missing, Alberts said.

"To be honest, we don't feel a lot of people respect us," he said. "Judging from the comments Florida State is making, they don't respect us either."

And Nebraska's seniors are trying to avoid the ignominy of being 0-for-the-bowls. Byrd is one of them, and he's 0-for-3 so far.

"It is frustrating," Byrd said. "I don't want to leave Nebraska FTC without winning a bowl game. We would be remembered for that."

Bowled over


Nebraska's recent bowl record:

Year.. .. .. Bowl.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Result

1992.. .. .. Orange L,.. ... .. ... ..Miami, 22-0

1991 .. .. ..Citrus L, Ga.. .. .. .. .Tech, 45-21

1990 .. .. ..Fiesta L, Fla... .. .. ..State, 41-17

1989 . .. .. Orange L, .. ... .. .. ..Miami, 23-3

1988 .. ... .Fiesta L, Fla. State,... 31-28

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