1978 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

The 1978 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team represented the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team was coached by Tom Osborne and played their home games in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.

1978 Nebraska Cornhuskers football
Big Eight co-champion
Orange Bowl, L 24–31 vs. Oklahoma
ConferenceBig Eight Conference
CoachesNo. 8
APNo. 8
Record9–3 (6–1 Big 8)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorJerry Moore (1st season)
Offensive schemeI formation
Defensive coordinatorLance Van Zandt (2nd season)
Base defense5–2
Home stadiumMemorial Stadium
← 1977
1979 →
1978 Big Eight Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 3 Oklahoma + 6 1 0 11 1 0
No. 8 Nebraska + 6 1 0 9 3 0
No. 15 Missouri 4 3 0 8 4 0
Iowa State 4 3 0 8 4 0
Kansas State 3 4 0 4 7 0
Oklahoma State 3 4 0 3 8 0
Colorado 2 5 0 6 5 0
Kansas 0 7 0 1 10 0
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll


September 28:05 pmat No. 1 Alabama*No. 10ABCL 3–2077,023[1]
September 91:30 pmCalifornia*No. 10W 36–2675,780
September 161:30 pmHawaii*No. 12
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE
W 56–1075,615
September 3012:50 pmat Indiana*No. 12ABCW 69–1742,738
October 71:30 pmat No. 15 Iowa StateNo. 10W 23–051,450
October 141:30 pmKansas State No. 8
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
W 48–1475,818
October 212:30 pmColoradoNo. 5W 52–1453,262
October 281:30 pmOklahoma StateNo. 4
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE
W 22–1475,786
November 41:30 pmat KansasNo. 4W 63–2150,463
November 1111:30 amNo. 1 OklahomaNo. 4
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
ABCW 17–1474,657
November 181:30 pmMissouriNo. 2
  • Memorial Stadium
  • Lincoln, NE (rivalry)
L 31–3575,850
January 1, 19797:00 pmvs. No. 4 OklahomaNo. 6NBCL 24–3166,365
  • *Non-conference game
  •  Homecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Central time




Adams, Joe #2 (So.) LB
Andrews, George #96 (Sr.) DE
Baker, Kim #41 (So.) LB
Barnett, Bill #97 (Jr.) DT
Bergkamp, Tim #36 (So.) PK
Berns, Richard #35 (Sr.) IB
Bloom, Jeff #50 (Jr.) C
Branch, Anthony #4 (So.) WB
Brown, Kenny #22 (Sr.) WB
Bruce, Mike #76 (So.) OT
Bryant, Bill #95 (Sr.) DT
Carlstrom, Tom #78 (So.) OG
Clark, David #63 (So.) DT
Clark, Kelvin #73 (Sr.) OT
Cole, Andy #56 (So.) MG
Cole, Lawrence #81 (Jr.) DE
Cooley, Lawrence #67 (Sr.) OG
Cotton, Barney #54 (Sr.) C
Davies, Steve #82 (So.) TE
DeLoach, Trey #52 (So.) C
Dunning, Bruce #40 (Jr.) LB
England, Gary #70 (Jr.) LB
Finn, Jeff #63 (So.) OG
Fischer, Tim #16 (Sr.) DB
Franklin, Andra #39 (So.) FB
Gary, Russell #9 (So.) DB
Gemar, Scott #1 (So.) PK
Glenn, Steve #71 (Sr.) OT
Goodspeed, Mark #72 (Jr.) OT
Hager, Gary #87 (So.) SE
Hager, Tim #10 (Jr.) QB
Hansen, Jeff #48 (Sr.) DB


Havekost, John #69 (Jr.) OG
Hedrick, Brian #43 (So.) DT
Hineline, Curt #59 (So.) MG
Hipp, I.M. #32 (Jr.) IB
Holmes, Daryl #94 (So.) DE
Horn, Rod #55 (Jr.) DT
Johnson, Craig #30 (So.) IB
Juehring, Chris #45 (So.) FB
Keith, Percy #21 (So.) IB
Kelly, Jim #49 (So.) FB
Kotera, Jim #44 (So.) FB
Krejci, Jeff #2 (So.) LB
Kunz, Lee #38 (Sr.) LB
LaFever, Dan #37 (So.) LB
Lee, Jeff #26 (Sr.) SE
Lee, Oudious #65 (Jr.) MG
LeRoy, Mark #23 (Jr.) DB
Letcher, Paul #8 (Jr.) DB
Lewis, Rodney #5 (So.) DB
Liegl, David #28 (Jr.) DB
Lindquist, Ric #15 (So.) DB
Lindquist, Steve #68 (Sr.) OG
Lindstrom, Dan #98 (So.) DE
Lockett, Frank #80 (Sr.) SE
Matthies, Tom #77 (So.) OT
Mauer, Mark #17 (So.) QB
McCloney, Maurice #31 (Fr.) WB
McCrady, Tim #24 (So.) WB
Means, Andy #34 (So.) DB
Michaelson, Steve #18 (So.) QB
Miller, Junior #89 (Jr.) TE
Minor, John #86 (Jr.) DE


Nelson, Derrie #92 (So.) DE
Ohrt, Tom #74 (Sr.) OT
Payne, Dennis #13 (Sr.) DB
Pensick, Dan #93 (Jr.) DT
Pillen, Jim #29 (Sr.) DB
Phillips, Patrick #94 (So.) DE
Poeschl, Randy #75 (Sr.) DT
Porter, G.M. (Budge) (Sr.) CB
Potadle, Paul #61 (Jr.) OG
Quinn, Jeff #11 (So.) QB
Rabas, Greg #85 (So.) TE
Ruud, John #46 (Jr.) LB
Ruzich, Mike #99 (So.) DT
Saalfeld, Kelly #57 (Jr.) C
Schleusener, Randy #53 (So.) C
Searcey, L.G. #42 (So.) DB
Selko, John #83 (Jr.) TE
Sherry, Scott #91 (So.) DE
Sims, Sammy #6 (So.) DB
Smith, Tim #84 (Jr.) SE
Sorley, Tom #12 (Sr.) QB
Steels, Anthony #33 (So.) WB
Steiner, Dan #58 (Jr.) OG
Stewart, Eric #19 (Jr.) DB
Swanigan, Raymond #53 (So.) LB
Sukup, Dean #3 (Jr.) PK
Theissen, Gordon #90 (Jr.) DE
Todd, Billy #14 (Sr.) PK
Vering, Tom #47 (Jr.) LB
Walton, Darrell #7 (Sr.) DB
Weinmaster, Kerry #51 (Jr.) MG
Williams, Brent #66 (So.) LB
Woodard, Scott #88 (So.) SE
Wurth, Tim #25 (Jr.) IB


Depth chart


Coaching staff

Name Title First year
in this position
Years at Nebraska Alma mater
Tom Osborne Head coach/offensive coordinator 1973 1964–1997 Hastings College
Jerry Moore Receivers 1978 1973–1978 Baylor
Lance Van Zandt Defensive coordinator
Defensive backs
1977 1977–1980 Lamar
Cletus Fischer Offensive line 1960–1985 Nebraska
John Melton Linebackers 1973 1962–1988 Wyoming
Mike Corgan Running backs 1962 1962–1982 Notre Dame
Boyd Epley Head strength coach 1969 1969–2003 Nebraska
George Darlington Defensive ends 1973–2002 Rutgers
Milt Tenopir Offensive line 1974 1974–2002 Sterling
Guy Ingles Freshman Head Coach 1976–1978 Nebraska
Gene Huey Receivers 1977 1977–1986 Wyoming
Charlie McBride Defensive line 1977 1977–1999 Colorado

Game summaries



#10 Nebraska at #1 Alabama [box score]
1 234Total
#10 Nebraska 3 000 3
#1 Alabama 0 767 20

Tom Osborne brought his Nebraska Cornhuskers into Birmingham to face Bear Bryant's top-ranked Crimson Tide to start the 1978 season. The game was nationally televised. Bear Bryant felt his team was not prepared enough for the game and did not feel his team deserved their #1 rating.[4] Nebraska put the first points on the board with a field goal halfway through the 1st quarter. However, the game belonged to Alabama for the rest of the day with no further answer from Nebraska. Alabama suffered no fumbles and rolled up twice as many ground yards as Nebraska.


California at #10 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
California 7 0712 26
#10 Nebraska 0 7722 36

The Golden Bears were on the scoreboard first, but the Cornhuskers came back to tie midway through the 2nd quarter with help from a tricky two-handoff pass play to set up a score. The score was still tied at 14 through the 3rd quarter, before a surge of scoring opened up in the 4th as both teams combined for 34 points. Nebraska led on the ground 302-76, while California owned the air 271-190, but the Cornhuskers had more points at the final whistle.


Hawaii at #12 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Hawaii 0 0100 10
#12 Nebraska 7 28714 56

Nebraska rolled to a dominating 35-0 1st half lead, and eight Cornhusker players scored during the course of the game as Hawaii allowed 599 yards of offense in their futile attempts to slow the onslaught. Hawaii's only touchdown came on the heels of a Nebraska fumble, and the spread was by then far too great for the Warriors to pose a threat to the Cornhuskers.


#12 Nebraska at Indiana [box score]
1 234Total
#12 Nebraska 28 71420 69
Indiana 0 1007 17

Nebraska scored on all of their first four possessions and jumped to a 28-lead in the 1st quarter, scoring more points than Indiana would muster on the entire day. Five Cornhusker runners found the end zone, as well as a Blackshirt who recovered a fumble, as Nebraska rolled up 613 yards of offense for the day.

Iowa State

#10 Nebraska at #15 Iowa State [box score]
1 234Total
#10 Nebraska 6 3014 23
#15 Iowa State 0 000 0

Nebraska was the first on the board and never allowed Iowa State to join them afterwards, as they led 9-0 at halftime and tacked on 14 more before the final whistle, while capitalizing on two interceptions thrown by the Cyclones and holding Iowa State to just 82 yards of total offense at their own home field.

Kansas State

#8 Nebraska at Kansas State [box score]
1 234Total
#8 Nebraska 0 142113 48
Kansas State 0 707 14

Kansas State made an effort to be competitive for a bit, but Nebraska kept going after obtaining a 14-7 halftime lead. The Wildcats were trailing by 28 before they put up their final 4th-quarter touchdown, which the Cornhuskers further marginalized with 13 additional points while posting their second consecutive 600+ yard game.


Colorado at #5 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Colorado 14 000 14
#5 Nebraska 3 111721 52

Colorado jumped out to an 11-point lead in the 1st quarter, helped in part by a 100-yard kickoff return, but there would be no further Colorado points allowed as Nebraska tallied 49 straight unanswered points for a win, while recording their third consecutive game with over 600 yards of offense.

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State at #4 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Oklahoma State 7 070 14
#4 Nebraska 0 1930 22

Oklahoma State held Nebraska to around half of the total offensive yards the Cornhuskers had accumulated in each of the last three games. Statistically it was close, as the Cowboys barely led in the air 110-99, while the Cornhuskers barely led on the ground 217-213, and the Cowboys also held the edge in 1st downs 17-15. But Nebraska scored a 42-yard field goal with 15 seconds left to play, going ahead by 8 and holding on for the win.


#4 Nebraska at Kansas [box score]
1 234Total
#4 Nebraska 7 35147 63
Kansas 0 786 21

Nebraska started slow, only leading by 7 after the 1st quarter, but then the game blew open when the Cornhuskers put up four unanswered touchdowns in the 2nd and five overall, leading 42-7 at the half. The Jayhawks gamely put up 14 more points before the day was over, but not nearly enough to catch up, let alone overcome the additional 21 posted by the Cornhuskers before the final whistle. Nebraska's 799 total yards of offense set a new Big 8 record.


#1 Oklahoma at #4 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
#1 Oklahoma 7 070 14
#4 Nebraska 0 773 17

The game was the biggest since the original Nebraska-Oklahoma Game of the Century in 1971, as the top-ranked and undefeated Oklahoma Sooners arrived in Lincoln to defend their ranking and possibly settle the 1978 Big 8 title with Nebraska. Oklahoma put up the first score, which was matched by Nebraska by halftime, and the game was still tied at 14 at the start of the 4th quarter. Nebraska put up the go-ahead field goal just minutes into the 4th, and the ensuing battle pitted the vaunted Oklahoma offense against the stalwart Blackshirts, who held until the end, finally forcing Oklahoma RB Billy Sims to fumble on the Nebraska 3 with 3:27 remaining to play and sealing the first Cornhusker victory over the Sooners since the famous 1971 contest.


Missouri at #2 Nebraska [box score]
1 234Total
Missouri 7 7147 35
#2 Nebraska 14 3140 31

The Cornhuskers were riding high from their win over #1 Oklahoma, but the Missouri Tigers downed the Cornhuskers in Lincoln 35-31. Nebraska RB Rick Berns, soon to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, started the day by tearing off an 82-yard run to set the tone. Nebraska was able to cling to a slim 3-point halftime lead through the 3rd quarter, but failed to answer Missouri's final touchdown with 3:42 remaining to play, which subsequently and unexpectedly sent both Oklahoma and Nebraska to the Orange Bowl to once again face each other.


#6 Nebraska vs #4 Oklahoma [box score]
1 234Total
#4 Oklahoma 7 7170 31
#6 Nebraska 7 0314 24

Just six weeks prior, Oklahoma and Nebraska met for the 1978 revisit of the "Game of the Century." Yet circumstances dictated that they would meet again for a rematch. Nebraska led the first down battle 27-17 and led Oklahoma in the air 220-47 as well as in total offense, but was hurt by two lost interceptions. Although behind by 7 at the half and falling to 31-10 by the end of the 3rd, the Cornhuskers rallied back and had a chance until IB Craig Johnson was stopped on a 4th-and-1 for no gain on the Sooners 7 with 8:07 left. Nebraska got the ball back and put it into the end zone again with :03 left on the clock to come within 7 points for the final score.


Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking ██ Decrease in ranking




Award Name(s)
National Coach of the Year Tom Osborne
All-America 1st team George Andrews, Kelvin Clark
All-America 2nd team Steve Lindquist
All-America 3rd team Junior Miller
All-America honorable mention Rick Berns, I. M. Hipp, Rod Horn, Lee Kunz
Big 8 Coach of the Year Tom Osborne
All-Big 8 1st team George Andrews, Rick Berns, Kelvin Clark, Steve Lindquist, Junior Miller, Jim Pillen
All-Big 8 2nd team Kenny Brown, Barney Cotton, I. M. Hipp, Rod Horn, Lee Kunz, Tim Smith, Billy Todd, Kerry Weinmaster
All-Big 8 honorable mention Andra Franklin, Jeff Hansen, Andy Means, Derrie Nelson, Tom Ohrt, Kelly Saalfeld, Tom Sorley

NFL and pro players


The following Nebraska players who participated in the 1978 season later moved on to the next level and joined a professional or semi-pro team as draftees or free agents.[6]

Name Team
Bill Barnett Miami Dolphins
Rick Berns Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kelvin Clark Denver Broncos
Barney Cotton Cincinnati Bengals
Andra Franklin Miami Dolphins
Russell Gary New Orleans Saints
Mark Goodspeed St. Louis Cardinals
Rod Horn Cincinnati Bengals
Lee Kunz Chicago Bears
Jeff Lee St. Louis Cardinals
Oudious Lee St. Louis Cardinals
Rodney Lewis New Orleans Saints
Frank Lockett Boston Breakers
Junior Miller Atlanta Falcons
Derrie Nelson San Diego Chargers
Jeff Quinn Pittsburgh Steelers
Anthony Steels Boston Breakers


  1. ^ "Huskers drop 20–3 battle". The Sioux City Sunday Journal. September 3, 1978. Retrieved October 29, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Nebraska 1978 Roster
  3. ^ "Nebraska 1978 Commitments". Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
  4. ^ Bryant:Tide Not No. 1 after Spring's Discontent, web: The Sacramento Bee, 1978, retrieved March 13, 2023
  5. ^ 1978 Husker Honors
  6. ^ "All Time NFL Huskers". Archived from the original on August 15, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009.